Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mika (2002 - 2013)

Earlier this week on Monday, which was my wife's birthday, Mika began to abdomen-breathe. Our daughter Rachel noticed it that morning. This was not a good sign, so she took Mika to the animal hospital where she works to consult with the vets there. First an ultrasound was taken, and then an x-ray showed almost nothing visible in her chest but her lungs, and nothing in her abdomen. It was evident that her belly was filling with fluid as her liver failed and a low albumin level was causing her blood vessels to leak. Sure, we could remove fluid as needed but it was a temporary measure and much too stressful for her. Her little body was shutting down.

Rachel brought her back home and sadly spent what few hours remained for them together. Mika jumped off Rachel's bed and walked down the hallway like she had for the past few days when you could not tell that anything was truly wrong. She would step into the kitchen and pause -- and sometimes sit -- and I would ask her in a voice feigning annoyance, "Where are you going, Mika-Mika?" And she would respond with a stare and a gentle to-and-fro swish-swish with the tip of her tail. I became accustomed to seeing this as she seemed to feel better during the past two weeks. And then she would move on with a purpose, as if she was on some mission to take in and explore all the sights and smells that had been denied her for the past two years.

"Seemed" to feel better. It was all fool's-gold.

Late that afternoon, for one last time, she walked into the kitchen and sat, looking at me with her once-green-but-now-sparkling blue eyes. I had my camera in hand, and as I took a few snaps, Sadie walked in to see what we were doing. She gave Mika a thorough, once-over sniff, touching noses in the process:

Mika and Sadie

After a few minutes in the kitchen she walked back to Rachel's room, jumped onto her bed and laid down on her comforter. She didn't curl up as she had in the past, but laid more-or-less straight out. I wonder if that made it easier for her to breathe as it became more difficult for her to do so. As it was dark in the room I turned on a light so I could get a few more photos:

Mika rests on the bed

This is my final picture of her:

Mika's last picture

We drove her back to the vet's a couple of hours later. After Gayle joined us from work, we spent some minutes with Mika after Rachel conferred with the vet that releasing her from her tired body was the best thing to do.

And then it was time to let go. She went quickly and quietly, her eyes still sparkling and blue.

This morning Rachel and I took her to the local pet cemetery where she was to be cremated. After a few hours I brought her home from the crematorium. She's back now, and -- more specifically -- back home with Rachel. This is as it should be.

But it was an all-too-short three weeks. When I wrote in Mika's photo gallery description that it didn't matter whether her days with us were many or few, I said that in the brave spirit that one does when it's easy to say or write the words. But reality often does not play nice nor does it feel the need to oblige the spirit in which those brave and defiant words are uttered. I hate that we got just three weeks.

And I've caught myself looking at one of her food bowls -- the one festooned with paw prints and fish and mice...and a cat with the words that say, "I'm hungry." It's just a food bowl -- and I miss her.


  1. Steve, Gayle & Rachel...My heart breaks for you all at the loss of Mika. This tribute to her is truly beautiful as are your photos of her. It's never long enough...never. Rest in peace, Mika.

  2. I'm so very sorry! There's no good way to lose them, and there's never enough time together. Mika was beautiful!

  3. She appreciated every day of the last three weeks with you. I was hoping to see much more of Mika. Three weeks is way too dang short!!!

  4. Those were probably the best three weeks of her life. Bless her heart. Monday was not a good day. I lost my Tom as well.