RIP my sweet Nicholas

“The hour of our departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die and you to live.
Which of these is better, God only knows.”


I am very sorry to share that my sweet, 17-year-old baby boy, Nicholas, passed away Tuesday, April 26th.

I should have mentioned it before now, but truthfully I’ve been too sad—heartbroken, really—to talk about it.  It was easier to let a few pre-scheduled posts go up to fill the space while I cried & grieved & spent some quality time with my head under the covers.

Nicholas had a bad time of it the week before, so much so that I held him for almost 48 hours straight & even cancelled some appointments because I wasn’t willing to leave him.  I thought perhaps that was going to be the end.  But next thing I knew, he was up & around again, eating (though not a lot) & acting much more normal.  I was so relieved.

But that only lasted about a week before he started to go downhill again.  He was so thin, every little bone jutting out; & he seemed to grow more confused by the day, getting stuck in corners, walking into walls, & not quite knowing where the food dishes were anymore.  When I tried to hold him, he would only rest for a short while when he used to sleep for hours, & I wondered if it was maybe because he simply couldn’t get comfortable; that’s one of the reasons I thought he might be pacing around so much, too.  And even though I made a habit of filling a bowl with his favorite foods straight from the can, then shutting him into a room by himself so none of the other kittehs tried to steal it from him, I just couldn’t get him to eat very much at all.  And this is a boy who used to have a really healthy appetite.

He had a very hard time of it Monday night, & I was up with him most of the time, just trying to guide him, make him comfortable, comfort him.  But I knew then that if he didn’t “bounce back” once again by morning, I should call the doctor & make the horrible but necessary decision to help him pass peacefully.  I hated it—hate, hate, HATED it.  And it was as awful, if not worse, than you can imagine.  But I couldn’t live with myself if I made him suffer a minute longer than he had to, just because I wasn’t ready to be without him.  I love him so much & didn’t want to let go…& I would NEVER do it if I thought it was anything other than selfish to make him hang on just because his poor little body hadn’t given out yet.

I had one hour, only one short hour, from the time I called the vet’s office to the time they told me to be there to come to terms with what was about to happen & to try to help him understand.  I held him & cried over him & explained what was going on.  And I truly believe he understood.  At one point, he lifted a paw & placed it against my lips as though to say, “It’s okay, Mom, I’m ready.”

But in the car, he sat up, wanting to feel the sun on his face & look out the window.  Even though he was technically blind, he always loved car rides & knew that’s what was going on. Then when we got to the veterinarian’s office, he wanted to walk around. Just walk & walk & walk around the waiting room at a pace no one would ever expect from a kitty we were getting ready to…you-know-what.  I had so many misgivings at that point & wanted so badly to turn around rather than go through with it. But I just kept thinking of what he was like at home—the pacing & confusion, not eating, not resting—& I knew it wasn’t going to get any better for him, only worse. But Oh. My. God. So hard. :raincat:

Because of all the wandering around the house & getting stuck, the doctor thought he might have been suffering from a neurological issue, such as dementia or—I doubt it, but she mentioned the possibility of—a brain tumor.  And she agreed that he was thin & dehydrated.  But she was amazed that he was 17-years-old, & that other than age, there wasn’t (& had never been) anything wrong with him.

Nicholas was so good. He just laid there, even when they gave him the first shot, which burns. The vet said she can always tell when a pet is truly ready to go because they don’t react to that shot, & Nicholas didn’t. Then I held him & sang to him while the drug took effect & he fell asleep before the second shot.  I held him then, too, until the doctor said his heart had stopped.  They offered a box to take him home in, but I simply wrapped him up in his blanket, as usual, & carried him out.  He was my baby; I carried him in there like my baby, & I was sure as hell going to carry him out the same way.

He never looked any different.  Even in death, he looked exactly the way he always had any time he slept in my arms.  And I held him for a very long time after that.  Just held him & cried.

Later in the afternoon, when I thought I could keep it together for at least a short time, Mr. Handyman was kind enough to come out & dig up a big, half-dead rhododendron right in front of my bedroom window.  I’d been thinking about it for a while, & it’s exactly where I wanted Nicholas to be buried…so I can look out & “see” him any time I want. I want to get one of those really pretty pet memorial stones or statuettes to mark the spot; something that speaks to me & reminds me of him when I look at it. The landscaping here at the New House is awful, but we’re going to beautify it little by little, & my sweet little Nicholas is the first step. :flowers:


16 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Kathleen O says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am glad for you, that you had the time to spend with him in those last hours. I know saying he is as peace and free from any pain sounds trite, but it does help with humans and with pets.
    I will keep you in my thoughts. hugs. :raincat:

    • Heidi Betts says:

      Thank you, Kathleen. As hard as it was at the end, those were truly precious moments that I got to spend with him. I’ll never be sorry about that. :alice:

  2. Dee says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of Nicholas. Big hugs to you and the kittehs. Just think that Nicholas is in the sun over the rainbow bridge.

    • Heidi Betts says:

      Thanks, Dee. The one shining spot to it all is knowing he’s free of pain now, young again & running around in Heaven. I’m sure he’s happy, even if I’m not so much. :raincat:

  3. jay says:

    :flowers: I’m so very sorry, Heidi. I’m sure that you did the right thing for Nicholas. It’s one of the bravest things we can do for our furry loved ones because it is the hardest one of all. And the day we stop hating having to do this is the day we should stop taking them into our hearts. (((BIG HUGS)))

  4. Hollie R says:

    and once again I’m crying with you.. not just a gentle sniffle, but the ugly cry. I’m so sorry for your loss!!

    • Heidi Betts says:

      I’m sorry to make you cry, Hollie! That’s supposed to be reserved just for me. :windy: But I appreciate your sympathy & compassion…we’re there for each other during these hard times, aren’t we? :fairie:

  5. Crystal B. says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you during your time of grief. (((HUGS)))

  6. Teresa Alexander says:


    So so sorry. I know your story well as I went through this two years ago with my 17 year old Stubby, holding her throughout the night as well. I like to think that Nicholas has found Stubby and they are playing and snuggling and rubbing noses.

    Hugs to you

    Teresa A

    • Heidi says:

      I love that thought, Teresa! I’m sure Nicholas is young & spry again, playing like a kitten. And I know he’s with my dad & other pets up there…but he was always a friendly guy, so I know he’d love another playmate to spend time with up there until we can be with them. :butterfly:

  7. Ruth C says:

    😥 So sorry for your loss. It’s never easy to let go and it’s never an easy decision. I’ve had all of mine cremated and kept there ashes. So glad that I have pictures of everyone of them.

    • Heidi says:

      Never, ever easy. :raincat: I’ve toyed with the idea of cremating my babies, but I like to hold them for a while after & know where they are…right outside the house, nearby. Ashes are the same, I know, but I guess I just don’t want anyone else handling my kiddos, even if they mean well. :gum:

  8. Mary Kirkland says:

    I’m so sorry. I know losing a pet you’ve had for so long isn’t easy at all.

    • Heidi Betts says:

      Thank you, Mary. You know what this is like. But honestly, I love all of my babies so much, I don’t know that it would be any better if I lost one I hadn’t had very long. It’s all the same—you wonder if there’s anything else you could have done & don’t know what the heck to do without them for a while. :dizzy:

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