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Sunday, December 20, 2009


The Year Without A Christmas

It's going to be hard to muster up the usual festive Christmas spirit this year.

On Thursday, we took our cat Milo to the vet after he started showing signs of weight loss and weakness. The diagnosis was kidney failure. The vet told us the end was coming fast and that we should consider having him put to sleep.

This was all too sudden for us, and I held out some hope that the vet might be wrong.

After receiving subcutaneous fluids and a B12 shot, Milo was at least comfortable enough to come back home with us. By Friday night, though, it was clear he was deteriorating. He had no strength in his back legs, was refusing to eat or drink, and could do little except lay in his bed.

Saturday morning brought the first outward signs of pain, as he contorted his back and gasped for breath. None of us wanted to see him suffer, so we said our tearful goodbyes before my wife bravely took him to the vet.

My son is taking it particularly hard. Milo was his sleeping companion for the past four years, always patiently waiting in his room each night while my son brushed his teeth and went through the bedtime rituals.

That cat wouldn't sleep with anybody else. And he always took the same spot at the end of the bed. But as soon as I said goodnight and turned off the lights, Milo would curl up next to my son's head, purring loudly in his ear like a fluffy orange sound machine.

After a few hours, usually around midnight, he would come into my office and jump into my lap, watching me type away on the keyboard and offering an occasional meow as criticism. I always looked forward to these nightly visits, really the only time of the day when he would sit quietly with me for a long period of time.

Milo was just a cat. But for us he was a special part of the family for 13 years. He and his brother were our babies before we had real ones. Milo was a quirky, stubborn, lovable fur ball whose absence is now very clearly felt.

It's going to be awhile before my heart is clear of the Death and Sadness that visited us this weekend. With only five days before Christmas, it looks like this season might be a wash for me.

But for the kids, I'm going to fake it. I'll wear my Santa hat, pour huge mugs of egg nog, put a cheery smile on my face, and sing along with Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Mostly, though, I'll be missing Milo.


Blogger brettdl said...

So sorry to hear it. Hopefully cheer will return by Christmas

4:50 AM  
Blogger GBK Gwyneth said...

I'm so sorry.... Your tribute to your sweet Milo has brought me to tears. My thoughts are with you, Phil.

4:53 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

So sorry about Milo.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Katrina said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of a beloved friend.

8:00 AM  
Blogger James (SeattleDad) said...

Sorry to hear Phil. The loss of a friend and member of the family is always extremely difficult.

Peace be with you all this Christmas.

10:58 AM  
Blogger ImPerceptible said...

So sorry to hear about Milo, Phil.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

So sorry for your family's loss of Milo. Hope you all can remember something special about Milo and maybe that will help get you all thru the Christmas season.

9:16 PM  
Blogger denise said...

It is always so hard to lose a pet and especially around holiday or birthday times.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Eric Herman said...

Christmas is always bittersweet for appreciating those we have and remembering those we've lost. Sorry to hear about Milo, Phil.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

So sorry about your big ol' kitty cat.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"Milo was just a cat."

I'm not even a cat owner and *I* know that's not true. It's easy to see that Milo was a loved and cherished family member and I'm very sorry for your loss.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Ugh what a sucker punch. I hope your many fond memories help brighten the holiday without your furry friend.

8:43 AM  
OpenID claresdad said...

Sorry to hear about the loss to the family. Milo's at peace for Christmas.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Dogwalk said...

Oh Phil, Milo was not "just a cat"! He was your cat; he was Milo. I'm so sorry. It's tough anytime, especially at Christmas though. The memories will remain and they will carry you and your family through.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Idaho Dad said...

When I wrote "Milo was just a cat" it was from the perspective of someone who might not place much importance on a pet. To me, however, he was a very important part of our family and I actually didn't realize how big a part that was until he was gone.

It's amazing to me how lonely a house can feel when a pet dies. Our other cat has been wandering around looking for his brother. He doesn't quite understand.

But the real loneliness has come these past few late nights when the wife and kids are asleep and I sit down to work on the computer and find only one cat waiting to sit with me. It's going to be hard to get used to. They were both my late night buddies.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Flea said...

Sorry and thinking of you all.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Flea said...

This post has been removed by the author.

7:32 PM  
Blogger inlandempiregirl said...

What a touching tribute to Milo. We have a cat that could be Milo's brother or cousin. They really look alike. The pictures and the moving words will help in working through the loss.

7:55 PM  
Blogger some guy who blogs said...

We had a big ol' cat named "Rascal" who was a big ball of fur, just like Milo. Rascal used to lay upside down, just like the picture you posted. We had him for 7 or 8 years. Dysentery got him; he spent as much time by himself as death neared; it was as if he didn't want our family to see him that way. Maybe 'Cats are just cats', but the reason they aren't 'just cats' is because, as pets, we love them. I have a little parrot I'm really attached to. He makes me smile, as few things do. And, perhaps as the grief dissipates, perhaps another little feline will come into your lives one day. I know what it's like to lose pets and I can feel your sorrow. Merry Christmas, anyway...

9:33 PM  
Anonymous tiny house said...

I am so sorry to hear that. I think it is time for Milo to rest. Milo has made you and your family happy. This Christmas, Milo will still be with you all!

12:39 AM  
Blogger MarmiteToasty said...

((((Phil and Family)))

Im so very sorry about your loss, had one back in the year meself, your milo actually looks like our Buff who is also 13 and I know our time with him aint for much longer, nor Ambrose the mum who is 15....

Dont them dam pets just get into ya heart....

Again, Phil, so sorry for you and ya family...


1:23 AM  
Blogger creative-type dad said...

Very sorry to hear that. 13 years is a long time.

12:08 PM  

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