When Your Pet Dies

This is Buster. Like most cats, he spent the better part of his days ignoring me and the rest of our family. He ate, slept and periodically swatted at phantom objects. He had a cozy basket and only once did he make it through the front door to the yard. That outdoorsy excursion lasted all of a minute. He spotted a neighborhood cat and flew back into the house, paws spread, ready to scratch the nearest swath of upholstered fabric. I think he had his eye on my fancy living couch, but of course, he was declawed – the quintessential house cat.

Buster was a well-loved pet. Part of our family.

Twenty years into his idyllic life, he fell ill. On my way to teach a morning class, I brought him to the vet. After scolding me for not keeping up with Buster’s shots (did I mention this was a cat who’d only left the house once?), the vet informed me that Buster was simply too old to go on.  I called my husband and we decided it was time.

I left the vet with an empty pet carrying case sporting a pair of over-sized, black sunglasses to mask my puffy eyes. Frazzled and weepy, the vet made me exit through the back door so I wouldn’t upset the pet owners in the waiting room.  Then I drove to school and taught my class. I told my students I had allergies. A week later, I picked up Buster’s remains.

This is life. I’ve been there and unfortunately, you’re going to have to roll with it.

If your parents welcomed a pet into your family when you were a child, there is almost a 100% chance your pet will pass when you’re in college. It’s inevitable.  And sadly, it’s not an excuse. I don’t know how to say this without receiving more negative comments than cats have lives, but you’re still going to have to take the final exam. These are the things we learn as we become adults –  how to manage, how to cope and how to fake it.