It all happened with one decision.
Our beloved family pet, Bootsie, has been going down hill for awhile. We've been wondering just how much longer she could last. Though the vet said she was basically doing fine, it was obvious to us that her days were numbered.
Then, last night, I noticed that she was having trouble walking. She couldn't make it across the room without stopping to rest, and she seemed to be in pain. Walking up the stairs was impossible. Bootsie was miserable. Her condition had deteriorated rapidly.
I knew what had to be done.
And I knew who had to do it.
This morning I called the veterinarian to schedule the appointment, breaking down repeatedly through the brief conversation. We made it for later in the afternoon, to give time to say goodbye. That time was well spent, treasuring the precious blessing of our furry friend. We were able to capture a couple of paw prints in modeling clay, and attempted to add her paw prints to a canvas; the shape doesn't really resemble a cat's paw, but we know what it is.
And then came the decision that has forever changed me.
It was time to go.
Tears stained the faces of everyone in the car, because of my decision. It was one that had to be made. But it was still agonizing to be the one to make it. I could hardly read the consent through my tears.
The tech who walked us through the process was so gentle and kind. She affirmed my decision, explained our options, helped us decide what to do, and asked if we needed more time.
Again, the details were up to me.
As I type this, everyone is in bed. Bootsie has been laid to rest on my parents' farm, surrounded by treasures from those who will miss her most. The day is over. The carefree days of my youth have been completely laid aside. Innocence, without the weight of deciding life or death, is gone forever. In it's place is a resolve, a strength I didn't know I possessed. And I will never be the same. I wasn't ready, but I have completely grown up.