[Unabashed emoting warning.]
The vet in the emergency room yesterday morning said improvement, if there was to be any at all, would be noticable within 48 hours. I accepted that as a sensible plan. Skids, whom I'd started to suspect a while ago was smarter than she liked to let on, knew better than either of us. This morning, her face said it all: no more. Laying still, looking nearly lifeless except for the movement of her chest, her mouth not opening to accept the medicine of the 48 hour plan others were trying to impose on her, it was one final magnificent act of "I'm the cat here, I'm in charge."
It's a curious thing. I'd long feared the day this decision would have to be made. How would I really know when enough was enough when she couldn't tell me what was going on inside? And would she understand in her heart why someone she'd trusted nearly her whole life was now having her injected with the chemicals that would call it a life?
I should have known the answer all along. I wouldn't be making the decision at all. She would. My job was to listen, and to respect her right - everyone's right - to decide when they're tired of fighting. She was not surrendering. She was taking charge.
She gave me no fight lifting her into the box that would serve as her final carrier. At the vet's office, they were properly compassionate and reserved. Again, no fight being lifted from the box to the table. Did I want to stay during the procedure? I didn't want to, but I said yes anyway. I owed her that. The last face she was going to see was going to be mine, not a technician's. The last voice she would hear would be the one she'd heard countless times before, stroking her head, between her eyes just the way she liked it, telling her one last time she's daddy's pretty girl as she drifted off to her eternal sleep. (This time she didn't have to head-butt me to get me to do it.) I assured her God would take good care of her, even better than we were able to, and that she should behave for Him and not wet His couch.
With the second injection I turned my head slightly, and I think the doctor saw it, because she gently told me they don't close their eyes.
Finally the doctor held a stethescope to Skids' chest, and said softly, "she's gone."
She's in heaven now, probably trying to find who in God's household she can tap on the hand with her paw and get something to eat. Whoever it is will surely find it as adorable as I did and give her anything she wants.
Rest in peace, sweet girl. And know, always, that I am really glad you were here.