Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sheeba's Life

I moved to California from Georgia in 2005 with the idea of fulfilling a dream of mine to live in California for at least a year of my life.  Here I am eleven years later!  California has served me well. I have grown in more ways than I ever imagined, have done things on my own that have made me feel more independent, and I have challenged myself to keep going no matter what life throws at you.

Two years into me living in California, I decided to get my very first pet.  I had grown up with dogs my entire life (along with hamsters, snakes, ducks, caterpillars, etc), but never a cat.  While working at the hospital down in Orange County, one of the hospice nurses said that she had a patient who was dearly worried about her cat and was adamant that the nurse find her a home before she would pass.  The patient had Alzheimer's, and I'm partial to those who suffer from it because my grandmother passed away from the disease.  The nurse casually mentioned this to us, and I said I would take her.  I had no idea what to do with a cat, and the first few days, I kept trying to find her in my apartment.  (Unlike dogs who are easy to find, cats like to hide!)  For about a week, we both kind of gave each other space as we got used to each other, but it was quickly that I fell in love with her.  I kept the name she was given - Sheeba - by her original owner.

Eventually, Sheeba became a certified support animal for me.  She has helped me in more ways than I can count - emotionally and mentally.  For her to be my very first responsibility was a huge blessing as she has honestly been the best cat anyone could ask for.  Since she is a support animal, I can bring her onboard the airplane if I travel.  Once up in the air, I would take her out of her cage and she would lay in my lap and in my arms for the entire 5 hour flight back home to Georgia without a problem.  She's an amazing traveler - both by car or plane, - loves to lay in the sun or by the fireplace, and the love she emits along with her sweet disposition is one that I don't think will ever be replicated.

I got Sheeba when she was about 3 or 4 years old (not sure), and she is now approximately 14 years old.  A year ago, I had blood work done on her as she had been throwing up her food, drinking more than the usual amount of water, and her weight was declining.  She was in the early stages of kidney failure, however the vet said that she was still healthy enough to not be put down.  Unfortunately, she has gotten worse.  I still see the sweet girl in her, but I know her body is tired and wearing down.  It hurts my heart to see her age and slow down so quickly.

A year ago, I went through the emotional concern that I may have to put her down.  But now, I know it's time.  Selfishly, I am keeping her around as I never want to let her go.  She has seen me through so much of my growing up in life and helped me through some very tough times.  My eyes swell with tears just writing this knowing that her days here on earth and in my arms are coming to an end.  At night, she lays right up by my head and shoulder and I nuzzle my face in her fur to savor as much of her as I can.  Pets are more than pets.  Sheeba has loved me when I didn't feel loved, been a shoulder to cry on, a "person" to vent to, and most of all, she knows when I'm hurting or have gotten hurt and stayed by my side.  She goes above and beyond what a support animal does and truly knows me.

I'm not sure when this will take place, but I know it will be sooner than later, and I will not bring her into a vet's office.  I will have her put down in my arms at home.  It's hard for me to think about because my heart sinks to my stomach and it feels like there is a thousand pound rock in there.  I feel I will be very lost without her, but I don't want her in pain.

Sheeba will forever be the best pet and cat I've ever known or will ever have.  In these next few days, I will cherish every moment with her knowing she had a good life as I rescued her, loved her, and in return, she loved me unconditionally.

My Angel.....

UPDATE:  Sheeba passed away on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 4:28PM.  My life was made tremendously better by having her in it all these years.  That's not to say, however, that there is a huge hole in my home and heart without her here.  The silence of her absence is deafening.  I must say that I'm am forever grateful for the veterinarian that helped her pass over the Rainbow Bridge.  He and his entire team showed so much dignity, respect, and empathy towards Sheeba and me.  Below is one of the last pictures I took of her at home that morning ..... and then the raw despair and pain as she slowly passed away in my arms.  

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