Sunday, May 10, 2009


Yesterday was one of the worst days of my life.

It strikes me as somewhat strange that one of these horrible moments comes around almost every ten years on the nose.

Essentially the decision to put Manhattan to sleep was made on Thursday night. When we brought her into see her doctor that evening, there were three separate pieces of bad news.

The first was that her kidney values had increased once again, suggesting further deterioration of the kidney's ability to filter out toxin. Even more disturbing was her continued weight loss. In just four short days she had lost another 6 ounces breaking the six pound mark. Had she not been eating, this might have made some sense, but her appetite was more than just okay.

The final straw came from her veterinarian, Dr. Smith. She told us that upon physical inspection of Manhattan's belly her intestines felt swollen like rigid garden hoses. This suggested, at best, a violent inflammation of the intestinal tract. More likely, it suggested intestinal cancer. This certainly would explain the violent and unexpected weight loss.

Saturday morning started early, as I drove the rented Ford Escape into midtown over the 59th Street Bridge. The first thing I noticed was a heavy fog that completely obscured the island of Manhattan. I knew that in just a few short hours my Manhattan would be gone as well.

Forty five minutes before our appointment, I picked up my beautiful friend. She was awake, laying on her favorite robe, but with a tired look in her eyes. The painkillers, given to her on Thursday, had now almost completely worn off and the returning discomfort had most likely kept her up most of the night. That made two of us.

Before I placed her in the carrier for the last time, I spent fifteen minutes saying my last goodbye. I tried desperately to look directly into her sunken eyes, and eventually rested my head gently against her furry belly. I remember how warm she felt against my cheek and how incredibly cold I felt inside.

On the way to the car I held her mesh carrier up to every pigeon I could find. I wanted to squeeze out every last drop of her life before it was taken away from her. What I really wanted to do was to stop time completely. At that moment, I would have happily given up every single one of my possessions just to buy her another few years.

If you are interested, the details of what goes on during a feline euthanasia are available on the Internet. Frankly, I do not want to go into them, but I can tell you that you will never experience ten minutes that go by more slowly. The only remarkable thing about this visit, was the woman that performed the procedure. Her name is Dr. Smith and she works at the Astoria Veterinary Group.

For starters, she opened the office early for us so that we would not be rushed. Every step was handled with sensitivity and dignity. At each stage she asked us if we were okay, and then proceeded only when she knew we were ready.

After Manhattan slipped away peacefully, Dr. Smith gently kissed her on the nose. Together, we wrapped her body in a soft piece of of navy blue fleece. In actuality, it was the cover of the L.L. Bean bed that I had bought for her right after I adopted her. It was boldly embroidered with her name. After that, we placed her in the makeshift casket that I was able to find the day before and around that we carefully wrapped white ribbon.

The drive out to Shelter Island was long, the traffic was bad, and I was already exhausted with sorrow. However, as you head further out on Long Island the cars thin off into nothing and the road becomes a single lane.

Off of route 25, we pulled into a small nursery and picked out a very nice dwarf blue spruce tree. It barely fit into the small rented SUV.

Once out on the island, I dropped into a small florist to buy my mom a Mother's Day orchid.

I added to the order one single peach colored rose.

The purpose of driving Manhattan out all this way was to bury her alongside my family home. By the time we arrived, the day was quickly fading, but with the help of my step-father we dug a deep grave and carefully placed her tiny casket in a fortified cavity at the bottom. We filled in the displaced soil and then directly above that planted the blue spruce. In front of that, we carefully placed Manhattan's rose.

This little tree now sits prominently in the sun next to our front porch.

My hope is that this baby blue spruce, with some help, will one day reach itself up to the top deck where my bedroom now sits.

If so, I can once again sleep with my best buddy Manhattan by my side.

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Blogger The Lone Beader said...

Peter, this is so beautiful. What lovely way to honor Manhattan! There will probably be a few birds in the tree as well, to keep her company! :D

12:18 AM  
Blogger Tanya Kristine said...

Peter, I'm so sorry. i know all too well the intense and seemingly endless grief that comes from a friend passing. wehn i lost Bear, it felt like i had died too...i just had to know that what i got from him during life was well worth the pain of losing him. i'm all watery.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Lisa Chelle said...


How touching, what a lovely memorial to Manhattan. I think your piece broke my heart a little bit.

Ill be thinking of you in Manhattan on my kitten hunt this weekend.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day said...

I'm so sorry for your loss...

5:35 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

breaks my heart...sorry Peter

10:54 AM  

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