The Last Ride

My daughter found CJ in a dumpster. As often happens to stray animals, some jerk threw her away like trash. This time, this kitten lucked out– my kid was willing to dumpster dive to save her.

A few weeks after her rescue the real CJ emerged. I’d like to be able to tell you that she was a sweet loving cat, but I can’t lie. Sometimes she deigned to allow one of us to pet her–if she felt like it. But most of the time she didn’t want anyone bugging her. No purring lap feline was she.

But still, her antics brought a smile.

CJ shared her life with us for thirteen years. Then one day I noticed a lump under her jaw-a later biopsy confirmed cancer. Sometimes veterinarian medicine can work miracles. But not this time. Although we tried a course of steroids, her disease advanced rapidly.

The time had come to let her go, but still I agonized over the decision. Of all the God-like powers mere mortals can assume in abstentia, this life or death decision thing is the one I dread the most. As a pet parent I accept responsibility for making that end of life call, but I hated picking up the phone.

The following morning, I folded the fluffiest towel in the closet and placed it in the cat carrier. CJ loved  sunshiny spots-they were her favorite snoozing places. True to form she lay on the dining room table, the light from a nearby window warming her fur. Gently, I lifted CJ and placed her in the carrier. Then we walked to the car and prepared to take our last ride together.

I whispered to CJ and petted her as our compassionate vet eased her journey across the Rainbow Bridge. I thought of all the smiles and laughter thirteen years had brought.

And I cried.

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