I really do!
I love all the hustle and bustle, the Christmas cooking and baking...heck, even the shopping! I love the lights, the sparkle, the Christmas music, even the Salvation Army bell ringers. I love the wrapping paper and bows, the people who put antlers and a big Rudolph nose on their minivans, and the candy cane Joe-Joes. I love the Elf on the Shelf, the kids Christmas specials on TV, the fun (and sometimes, the stress) of being around so much family. And let me tell you, this year was the top of the top. Everything went smoothly from Thanksgiving to New Years, there was no family drama at any of the gatherings, everyone loved their gifts, and there was plenty of downtime to enjoy each other's company for the rest of the Christmas break.
There was only one thing that kept our holidays this year from being absolutely perfect...
Haley, our sweet cat of 17 1/2 years, had to be put to sleep two days before Christmas. We knew she had been struggling for the past 6-8 months, as she had dropped down to 5.5 lbs and had quit eating this past spring. I had taken her to the vet then, expecting the worst. But he was happy to tell me that she was actually very healthy for her age, albeit in the very beginning stages of renal failure...we just needed her to gain some weight. So we put her on a special type of food, hoping she would bulk up a bit and feel better. She did, for a while...and then we started to notice in November that she was all skin and bones again. We decided to baby her, entice her to eat, and try to make it through the holidays before making any decisions.
Well, two days before Christmas, I was in the kitchen doing some baking, and I heard this thump behind me on the floor. I turned around and there was Haley, trying to stand up. She had just been sitting there a few moments before, and had just fallen over. I panicked and ran over to her, but it was obvious that she couldn't get up...so I helped her. As I watched her, I realized she was swaying from side to side and not putting any weight on her right hind leg. This was not a good sign, and I knew it deep in the pit of my stomach. She had barely eaten at all that week...and I knew all of these things together did not bode well.
Barry called the vet immediately, and they scheduled for her to come in in just an hour and a half. We sat the kids down and gently brought them up to speed on the situation, explaining how Haley was definitely in pain and how she had had such a good, long life with us. They were both extremely upset, but most especially Kendall. She spent the next 60 minutes holding her sweet kitty...snuggling her, giving her treats, and telling her she loved her.
And then she insisted on going to the vet with Barry. I have to be honest with you...I did NOT think that was a good idea at all, given how sensitive and dramatic and emotional Kendall is. But she insisted, and Barry sided with her, so I agreed. We packed a wicker laundry basket with a soft towel and placed Haley delicately inside...and they were off. I sat here with Noah and worried. And worried some more.
Of course, as you know by now, the news was not good. She was in full renal failure, and there was little that could be done except to keep her comfortable. Barry and I had already decided that if the news was bad, we would not let her suffer, so the decision was made. Barry took Kendall for hot cocoa afterward and they had a long chat...and I must say that she was doing really well when they got home. We buried Haley out by our garden, where we are planning to plant a special tree or bush in her memory. Kendall is sure that whatever grows there will be beautiful...and I tend to agree.
Rest in peace, Haley...you were our very first baby, and we were so very blessed to have had you in our lives for so long...