As I sit at my desk, two kittens play with a piece of fuzz on the carpet.
The fact that there are two kittens is purposeful. Our last cat, Scooter, unexpectedly died at only two years old. And our hearts broke when we lost her. Two kittens means twice the fun—and twice the chance of having many years to enjoy them being part of our family.
The kittens start to wrestle and I smile, but a part of me is still mourning the loss of the cat we had before them. My 15-year-old was holding Scooter as we drove to the emergency vet on that stunning summer day. She lay in his arms on the pink towel that had accompanied her from the rescue organization only a couple years earlier.
Scooter had always liked riding in the car. We were so lucky, we thought, to have a cat that liked the car. She slept on our laps and went for walks on a leash. She was a talker, with a shiny calico coat of white, black and orange. She was breathtaking, one vet said.
But now her legs were too weak for her to stand and her coat was dull.
When we learned Scooter’s diagnosis—severe kidney disease—was terminal, my husband promised he would be there with me for her last day. I had been alone with my first cat, who lived to age 18, when he was euthanized. I swore never to endure that by myself again. But on the day Scooter’s body failed, my husband had mandatory job training.
Thus, it was my teenage son who accompanied me to the vet. I was grateful for his presence as well as my 11-year-old daughter’s honesty. She knew she could not endure the events about to unfold. She said her goodbye to Scooter at home, carrying her through every room in the house so Scooter would remember what they looked like.
I had called the vet before we arrived and we were ushered into a room. My son stayed with me until he could bear it no more, excusing himself to the waiting room while I filled out paperwork and paid in advance for the euthanization and cremation.
In a moment of levity, as I waited for them to bring my cat back with the catheter through which they would administer the final injection, my son knocked on the door and asked for a dollar for the vending machine in the lobby. He closed the door, and I heard the thunk-thunk of a can of soda as it fell down into my son’s waiting hands.
The vet was kind and professional as she administered the injection while I held Scooter. I said words of love to my sweet cat and tried to hide my tears so she wasn’t afraid. I held her facing me, a change from how I had held my first cat to say goodbye. I was not good at this, but I had learned how to do it better this time.
When it was over, my son hugged me, we cried, and we left. Until we didn’t. My car failed to start in the parking lot. I knew immediately it was a dead battery.
I knew, too, that this was an unbelievable day, that this day, like Scooter’s death, was out of my control.
When the tow truck came, the driver was sympathetic. He had been at this emergency vet two years ago to say goodbye to his dog. He understood my state and was gentle when he told me my battery was too far gone for a jump. I needed a new one.
I paid for the new battery with the same credit card I had paid for my cat’s cremation. I had no idea why both unexpected expenses would occur on the same day, why an inanimate object could be fixed while no amount of money would fix my sweet, young cat.
“I’m sorry,” the driver said as we finished. Then my teen and I got into our car to drive home and mourn.
Months later, my car is sustained by its fresh battery and there is new life in our home as the kittens run, play, and eat like they have never seen food. Our family is in love again, but we are not healed from losing our beloved Scooter. She was too young to die, too sweet to leave us, and we miss her.