Reaching The Point Where Life Stops Giving You Things And Starts Taking Them AwayI had to put my cat Rufus to sleep yesterday. His health had been declining for some time and even though I could have prolonged his life for a few more months, I believe that that would have been selfish. I'm ashamed that I wasn't able to stay with him when he was given the injection. I did it with another beloved cat years ago, and the thought of those glazed over, unseeing eyes that had been so full of love and life was more than I could bear.
Now I know that in the grand scheme of things some people don't think that the death of an animal matters much. His presence in my life symbolized the last connection with my dead father, who had known Rufus when he first came to live with me. After my parents' death, he was the closest thing to a companion I had. I have never been a real extrovert, and tend to shy away from social situations because of the awkwardness I feel. He was my pal, he greeted me when I came home, would sleep on me, nuzzle up against me and look at me with the biggest, roundest loving eyes. He followed me around like a dog, would come when I called. He was a sweet little soul.
The building I live in has six units, and I have been here for nearly ten years. In that time, I have seen a revolving door of owners, the vast majority of whom I have been able to live alongside, if not actively like. The most recent crop, however, are horrible. One is a lecher who, five days after he moved in, dropped by a Christmas open house I gave and proceeded to make two of my female guests feel uncomfortable to the point that I had to escort them to their cars. Another is a self-centered, cold cow who believes that any unoccupied common space is hers to claim, either for her possessions or her son or boyfriend's vehicle. She will not speak to me because I had the nerve to point these things out calmly and politely. I now feel that I have to avoid her in the hall. The last remaining long-standing tenant has been a godsend because he is very proficient with construction and repair, and has been the building's unofficial custodian. I'm thinking about moving because I don't know what I would do if he weren't here and also there are a lot of stairs up to my apartment and at 51 I have to think about the time in my life when I might not be able to manage them.
I recently came back from a trip to Europe during which I saw some friends I've had for thirty years. I hadn't seen them in about 18 months and I finally realized how aged they looked (they're 69). It dawned on me that they may not be around forever, despite the fact that people in their families are incredibly long-lived, sometimes up into their late 90s.
My parents are gone, I don't have any really close family. I've recently started attending a very inclusive church, and I'm trying to capitalize on the social confidence I gained during my Europe trip, when I met the family and friends of a recently-met Scottish friend. For once, I didn't let my anxiety get the best of me. I know that it is right not to be too self-centered and that one should give to others, something I haven't always been too good at. I do want to try. I want to give back the love I got from a small, gentle, affectionate animal.