June 22, 2016: GRAYSON

~by Susi Pittman

It was January 2010, that Grayson and I became acquainted. He was one of the several “cast-off” cats that roamed the apartment complex where I was living at the time. He had belonged to a person at one time, but they had left him behind when they moved out.

His demeanor was extremely docile and he was very careful to stay hidden from some of the more aggressive tom cats that prowled about. He was trusting too, which over time did not serve him well. I witnessed his abuse by another tenant whereupon I came to his rescue. But, not before he was kicked in his little face.

I took Grayson in, along with five other cats in the apartment complex before I moved to a new home. He was the low guy on the totem pole when it came to the kitty pecking order in my home. Over time his best friends emerged. Shadow, Hemingway and Longfellow had decided he could be one of the gang. He spent many days on one of my sunny window sills with them, sleeping or grooming their warm fur.

He knew trust once again and never had to experience a harsh back-hand or thrusting foot. He had me and he was safe. At night, his resting spot of choice was to the right of my head at the top of the bed. It always entertained me to see where each cat would designate their choice in a perfect sleeping spot.

Grayson was always a little different than the rest of the cats. Not to say he was dumb, but, there were just behaviors that spoke to his uniqueness. He never ate or drank with the other cats at dinnertime. He would sometimes go under my bed and would not come out until I pulled him out. He would not relieve himself in the same places as the other cats. He would just fold-up if any one of the other cats acted like they had an issue with him. He let his tongue hang from his mouth…a lot. He slinked about more than he walked upright. He also had the habit of flipping his tail all the time, unless he was asleep. I never heard him meow once during his entire life, but he did have a loud purr-box.

In his last weeks with me, he seemed to lose all fear of anything…man and beast. He stayed by my side constantly when I was in the house. He ate with the other cats, he used the same litter box and he stood his ground when challenged to move from a resting spot. His posture was upright, no more slinking. It was like he had nothing to lose and he knew it.

Two weeks ago, I took Grayson to my veterinarian. He was not eating and was getting dehydrated and I knew we could perhaps get him pumped back up to fight on for a little while longer. But, it became evident that he was ready to go. He ate very little and then there was “the look” that came last Friday night that said, please let me go.

It always amazes me how my pet family members who have passed, all looked death fearlessly in the face and were at peace to leave. “The look” is an undeniable gaze of love and suffering that says it is time. It is so important for pet owners to honor it and do what is necessary.

Euthanizing a suffering animal is a loving gift that we as pet parents can give our pet family members who have reached the end of their days. We as humans, created in the image of God (with intellect and knowledge) are given to redemptive suffering to our last breath as a necessity in our passing from this life into the next. It is a deeply holy time and one that each Christian is called to embrace, just as Our Lord did. However, animals given the souls of “a particular good” ** unlike our elevated human souls, have no need of personal redemptive suffering. They are what they are and are imbued with their natural characteristics according to the way God has created them. They act as a reflection of God’s love in this realm. Their exit can be natural or humane euthanasia.

Friday night Grayson was lying beside my chair on the ottoman while my daughter was visiting. His breathing was getting more congested and his movements were definitively staggered. I remarked to her how it had been nearly three weeks since Grayson had slept on the bed with me. I attributed it to his weakening condition. I told her that I would be taking Grayson in to the veterinarian’s office to return him back to Jesus.

It was close to midnight as I lay in somewhat of a twilight sleep when I felt a tug and a pull on the comforter. Up the side of the bed came Grayson, eyes filled with suffering as I am sure he was using every ounce of his strength to get upon the bed. I just could not believe it! I truly believe that it was his last gift to me, he was already responding to the Lord.

I hardly slept, taking the hours to love him and stroke him, speaking his name and telling him wonderful he had been. These were sacred moments. There was no fear, just an all-consuming love and peace. Heaven indeed was close to Earth!

I left the house at 7:00AM Saturday morning and we met the veterinarian at his office. I held Grayson’s head in my hands as the needle was inserted into his leg. He purred so loudly and I prayed, Jesus, bring Grayson home. You were his first love. I thank You for his presence in my life. Go in peace Grayson.

Grayson did go in peace, he purred right up to the very end when Jesus took him in His hands and Grayson was safely home.

It never gets any easier to lose my pet family members. I have been down this road more times than most people would ever be able to tolerate. The bittersweet heartbreak, coupled with the sacredness of acknowledging a loving Creator who has provided for His creation both in this life and the next causes a duality in emotions.

The love of God’s beautiful creatures in my life far outweighs the loss. They have caused me to contemplate more and more the mercy and love of a Creator Who wishes to lose not one thing He has created.

Thank you Grayson, I will miss you being at my fingertips.

Thank you Jesus, yet another family member safely home.

**Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, English translation 1994, paragraphs 339, 342:

Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection…Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator…

The hierarchy of creatures is expressed by the order of the “six days,” from the less perfect to the more perfect. God loves all his creatures and takes care of each one, even the sparrow. Nevertheless, Jesus said: ‘You are of more value than many sparrows…of how much more value is a man than a sheep!’

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Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; a member of the St. John’ s Catholic Writers Guild;
a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the National Wildlife Federation, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

*** Visit SUSI WEEKLY ARCHIVE ***

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