I've been asked three times in the past couple days how Yoda died, if he couldn't have been saved.
Yoda was 23 years old, almost 24. This is many many years longer than average for a cat. I'm sure another year or two might have been squeezed out of him if I had begged a vet to drug him up, but I wasn't going to do that. I wasn't going to have him be miserable and worn down from age, but yet medically forced to stay alive for my sake. He had a long life, a very long one, and he made my life better, and I know I made his good too. Cody and I decided that, as long as he wasn't exhibiting a lot pain or discomfort, and still have a smile on his kitty face, then we were going to let him decide when it was his time to go.
We could sense it coming for a couple weeks. The dogs too could tell, and were being even more gentle with him than usual. Then it just came to be time. We don't know where he went nor how he got out, considering he moved at a snail's pace. But he did. We knew right away that he went off to do to forever-sleep. It's what cats do sometimes. We did spend a lot of time searching for him, several hours at a time many days over the remaining time before we moved. We didn't expect to find him alive, but had hoped to cremate him and bring him with us. Posters were put up, you name it. But wherever he went, he just wasn't going to be found.
I know he just wasn't going to die as long as he was kept by my side. He was going to fight for life and cling to it for my sake. I knew the only way he was going to be able to die was by himself. He fought for my sake until he couldn't anymore.
I've been asked over the past few months how I haven't broken down crying. It's because I'm happy for him. He deserves this eternal sleep. It had to have been exhausting getting through the day. I'm sad for myself not getting to hold him and pet him and kiss him, but more than sad for myself, but I'm happy for his sake. It's like going to sleep after years of being awake. His body was wearing out, and he was tired. He deserves to finally sleep and not have to go through another day of waking up, eating a bit, just trying to get to the next day.
When he did die, he didn't have to go alone. He chose to, and I'm not going to feel like I did something wrong by not finding him the second he did and drag him back inside and force him to see another day for me. He wasn't a stupid cat. And I'm not going to feel like a bad person because he chose to die alone. I must have done something right that he fought to stay alive as long as he did. He knew his time, and the one time this last year he went off the porch on his own was to die, and I sensed it coming.
When we cry about death, we cry for ourselves. We miss the deceased and wish for them back so we can have them, even when death is what will relieve their pain. We wish for the impossible, for time to turn back years, and then hurt because we can't have it. I know my wish for his time to turn back is impossible. I've been through enough death to accept that. He needed to get to die more than I needed him to be so incredibly tired and be alive one more day for my sake. I love him enough to wish he had dragged on another day, another week, for me. I'm not going to cry for not getting what is impossible. I'm going to be glad for what was.
I have moments of incredible sadness where my heart feels heavy, and then I remember that, if he were still with us, while he would be emotionally happy, physically he'd just be worn down and achy and tired, fighting for me despite what he wanted for himself. He died with love in his heart, and I still have it in mine.
It was his time, and in the way he chose, and I'm not going to feel bad nor blame myself for that. It's what he needed, and what he ultimately wanted. He got his way, he deserves to have had it, and that he finally took the chance and got it makes me happy for him. I wouldn't change a thing.