Saturday was a sad day at our house. We lost Butter. She had been losing weight, which we discovered was a kidney problem. We gave her fluids and she seemed to rally a bit, but she was not improving. And on Saturday, her little body showed us just how tired she was, so we released her. It was a hard, hard thing. I have moments when I wonder if maybe she might have been able to turn things around if we had given her another couple of days, but the reality was that we probably had already held on to her for too long. Our cats owe us nothing, but they give us everything. And Butter certainly gave us all she had.
That morning, I told her every way I knew how that we love her and that she gave us the best life. I held her and kissed her and talked to her until I could work up the nerve to take her to the vet. Then I held her and kissed her and talked to her some more. When I put her down on the counter for the exam, she could not hold herself up. Our vet (who is amazing) confirmed that she was not feeling well at all and that the merciful thing to do would be to let her go. Which is what I had suspected. Which is why I had lingered at home a bit, unwilling to make the trip to the vet.
I got to hold her and love on her while the first injection did its thing. During the second, we put her down on a towel so that our vet could inject her as he needed to. And in seconds, she was gone. I stayed with her even then, talking to her and kissing her beautiful little body some more. I kissed her head and her paws. She was so pretty. Her fur was soft, and her eyes were beautiful. Again and again, I just wanted her to hear what a great friend she had been to us and to her brother. I am confident she took that knowledge with her.
When I got home with the empty carrier, poor Bread was confused. He walked around looking for her and looking more than a little unsettled. I canceled all my plans for the day and just stayed home with him. I loved on him, but he did not purr for me at all. He knew the world was not right, and he was not happy. So I worried. They had been together their entire lives. Would he be okay without her? I needed him to be okay without her. I still do.
Bread and Butter are only fifteen years old. My first cat lived to be eighteen, and our deal had been that Bread and Butter would live to be twenty-five. Okay, maybe twenty. Whatever the number, it was more than fifteen. So we are not angry at Butter for leaving early, but we are using her departure to argue to Bread that he has to stick around even longer to make up for her absence. The world cannot be without both of them. Not my world anyway.
On Sunday, I printed an 8×10 photo of Butter and put in on a little side table in our living room. It was hard to choose the photo because we have so many pictures of Butter, but I love the one we chose. In it, she is proper and perfect, and you can see just how soft she was. And the minute I put the picture in the frame and set it on the table, Bread jumped up and sat next to her. No one will ever be able to tell me that cats do not love. They absolutely do. They love us, and they love each other. This photo is just one proof of that from my experience with Bread and Butter.
Since then, Bread seems to have settled more into the life we have without his sister. He’s sleeping with me again and purring when I pet him. He is asking for pets and welcomes any amount of cuddling we can manage. I have so much to do right now that it is hard to just sit and just pet him, but I am doing it anyway because Bread is all I have left, and I need that little guy to know just how necessary he is to the world. He is all we have left. And we could not love him more.
Butter, we could not love you more either. You are so missed. Thank you for the best life. I wish we could have kept you with us longer both for us and for your brother. What I would give to see your sweet little face and to be able to say just one more time, “Butter, where’s your brother?” That was always my favorite thing to ask you. You would look at me with a look the feline equivalent of the eye roll, and I would smile knowing that you and I almost always knew the answer to that question. He was never far from you.
Butter, we miss your sweet face and your single eyebrow and the way you would gently wake us with a single claw in the lip when you wanted food. We miss your bow-legged walk and how, in your later years, you used stools to get on beds. I especially miss you sleeping on my pillow or my head or my neck at night. I haven’t had a great night’s sleep since you left us, and I suspect that will take a while. When I get in bed, I’m always hopeful that Bread will quickly follow. And when he doesn’t, I ask myself quietly, “Butter, where’s your brother?” because I know you know, and it is my hope that you will signal to him that he needs to come to me and stay with me for years and years to come.
We miss you, Butter. You were our precious girl, and we could not love you more.