On the evening of October 7, 2014 our cat Fizzy died peacefully at home.
He’d been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in December, 2013 after we noticed a slow but significant weight loss over the previous year. He enjoyed one more summer basking in the sun and lying underneath the lilac tree. He had a few more kitty fights with his companion Scully. Over the past week, it was becoming clear to us that he was losing more weight, moving more slowly and the loss of muscle started to affect how much he could walk.
On the day he died he spent the afternoon lying in the sun in our backyard. He drank some milk and got lots of cuddles from my husband. While husband put the kids to bed, I went to the basement to see Fizzy and found him in the final stages. I ran up to get my husband. Daughter knew something was wrong but we didn’t tell her what has happening. After spending a few minutes with Fizzy husband went back to the kids’ room to ask them if they wanted to say goodbye. They said no. Meanwhile I stayed with Fizzy. I stroked his fur and told him it was okay to let go. I told him that he had been a wonderful companion to husband and that we all loved him very much. I saw him take his final breath. Husband returned and saw his paw move for the last time. We lay with Fizzy for a few minutes then husband went back up to the kids room. By then our son had fallen asleep but daughter was still awake. She heard her daddy coming up the stairs and said “Don’t tell me!” She obviously knew what had happened. He stood by the side of her bunk as she hugged him and stroked his hair. After a while he said, “I have to go do what needs to be done.” She replied, “Yeah, dirty work.
We buried Fizzy in our backyard under the lilac tree wrapped in husband’s band t-shirt.
The next morning our son asked where Fizzy was and his big sister told him to be quiet, that daddy was sad and not to say anything. Barely 6 years old and she was protecting her dad. She drew a lovely picture of the family and wrote Fizzy’s name (she spelled it Feze) next to his picture and gave it to her dad. She also made sure to give her daddy extra kisses that day because she knew he was sad.
The other night she asked me how exactly Fizzy died and if I was with him. I told her that I was and tried to explain to a 5-year-old the process of death. I told her that his blood was sick and that our blood is important because it carries air for us to breathe and food for our bodies to work. I told her that finally Fizzy’s blood just couldn’t carry enough food or air and his heart couldn’t work anymore. Once his heart couldn’t work, his breath would stop too. She seemed to accept the explanation and then told me “I think I miss Fizzy. I think I loved him more than Scully.”
And then her little brother asked, “Is Fizzy died?
Losing a pet is hard. I lost my first cat when I was 23. It doesn’t get any easier. Now that I’m a parent I’m not just dealing with my loss, but also now having to explain death to my kids. When she asked me to tell her about how he died and why he died I found myself wanting to dodge the question, telling her it was too late and time for bed. I wanted to protect her from knowing too much too soon. She’s not even 6 years old! But she’s so much smarter than me. She knew I think, that I was dodging the questions and she wouldn’t take no for an answer. I worried that my explanation wouldn’t be enough but when I was done she seemed satisfied and we said goodnight.
Ah … Fizzy, we will miss you.