There had been a hard frost overnight along the shoreline. Dry green leaves fell from the alders in the faint morning breeze. I watched them from the waiting room at the vet clinic, thinking what an apt metaphor for Tiny's life they made.
In my lap, wrapped in a plush blanket, Tiny drifted in and out of consciousness.
Her life had never been easy. There had been joy and love but above all, there had been pain. Crippled at an early age by human abuse, the little cat was stunted; her health was always fragile. She had been on pain medication for several years just so she could move around. Over the last few weeks, her movements had grown more awkward and difficult. For the past five days, she had barely moved at all.
We had known this decision was coming--we anticipated making it for the last two or three years. We knew the day would come when medical treatments would not be enough. We agonized over having to make that decision, but her sudden deterioration made the decision easy.
She was worn out and at the end of her strength. There was grief but no second-guessing our decision. Just sadness. Sadness that the bright and loving little spirit had been trapped in a crippled, painful body. Sadness that her potential had been stunted.
She was only ten years old. Under other circumstances, she could have expected another four or five years of life. Instead, like the frost-burned but still-green leaves falling outside, her life drew to its premature conclusion in the quiet veterinary clinic. All I could think of to tell her as she was released from her painful body was that I loved her and I was sorry.