Dexter Was Here 04.02.08 - 10.28.20
I have some very difficult and sad news to share with you, and I am deeply sorry to do so. Dexter, our sweet tabby boy, whom my husband and I loved with all our hearts, has left this Earth. He had been feeling poorly for a week or two, and we took him to the vet last week. They prescribed antibiotics because his white blood cell count was high, so they believed there was an infection. But the antibiotics didn't help.
Dexter started having labored breathing on this morning, and we immediately took him to the vet. The vet did an X-ray and discovered his abdomen was full of fluid, and at least two masses that she believed to be cancer. Given his condition, he was not a good candidate for anesthesia or any procedures, and the vet didn't think any of the options available would help anyway. So we made the difficult decision not to let him suffer any further; Dexter died in my arms just before noon on this day. He was 12 and a half.
The vet told us that cats are very good at hiding their illnesses from us, and that it was likely he had been developing the cancer for a while. My husband, who used to work in the medical field, observed that every disease process has a range of outcomes, from poor to not as poor, depending on a multitude of factors. Given the excellent care that Dexter received with us, we believe he probably maxed out his possibilities, and we are grateful for every second of the time he spent with us.
The morning actually had started out pretty well. The cat seemed energetic, and ran and jumped atop the brand new box my husband brought him from town. He had used his litterbox overnight (a thing he was 100% at - never a single mistake), and he had a little breakfast and then second breakfast. He was following my husband around the kitchen, asking for a little bowl of cream, which he did not drink. He sat in his box by the deck doors, that he loved so much, and I took this picture of him looking out, a scene that we saw so often.
Things took a turn for the worse around 9:30, when he began exhibiting difficulty breathing, and he let out a single, loud, distressed MEOW. "Call the vet," I said to my husband. "This cat needs to be seen THIS MORNING." And then we took Dexter to the vet, and the news was bad, and we had to make a decision, standing there in the drizzle, in the parking lot. But we got to go in with Dexter in the end, and I was holding him as he got his shots and drifted off to sleep, as my husband and I wept and wailed, and the vet reassured us that there was nothing we had done to cause the problem, and nothing we could have done to fix it.
We settled the bill, and I carried the cat in my arms to the car. My husband brought the empty carrier and put it in the backseat. He started the car. "Do you want to go straight home?" he asked. I didn't know what I wanted. Actually, I wanted the one thing that had been denied: I wanted Dexter to LIVE!!! So he drove around on a few backroads, as the music played on the radio, and we talked, and we looked at the foliage colors in the rain. And I said to the world, out loud, as I held his warm, soft body in my arms: "Dexter was here."
And then we went home to our empty house, and we cried and cried. I did the work meetings I had to do in the afternoon, and then we went outside and dug Dexter's grave in the meadow. (It is pouring down rain as I type this sad update, but if there is a break in the rain today, we will bury Dexter there.) And then we had a little wake for Dexter. We put his body in his room, on display, with candles lit, and Tiny Tiger keeping careful vigil over his friend. And we listened to music and told stories about Dexter, and took turns bawling our eyes out. For we loved him a lot, and all of this was thoroughly unexpected, and we will miss him something fierce.
My big sister Barb is the one who gave me Dexter, back in 2008, and he was the best gift I ever could have asked for. I remember meeting him for the first time. My sister and I were sitting on her kitchen floor, and the three kittens (all tabby boys with white paws) were racing around us and playing. My sister picked up Dexter and held him, and I took a picture of him looking absolutely beatific, fast asleep in her arms. My sister went to be with Jesus last summer. And so it was a happy thought for me to think that Dexter, on this day, made his way back into her sweet and loving arms, where she will hold him safe for me, and they will wait for me in the Next Place.
I have been absolutely astounded by the outpouring of love and care from all corners of the globe. I posted Dexter's pictures on Facebook and Blipfoto all the time, and I know there are many who love him, and us. And we thank you for every kind word, every prayer (even those who never prayed before, prayed for Dexter), every warm wish, every tear (for we know you are crying along with us).
I would tell you that we loved Dexter well, but if you follow me on Facebook or Blipfoto, you already know that. He was adored. He was cherished. He had his own room. He had so many daily rituals that we managed the clock by at our house: first breakfast, sitting on the front porch together, second breakfast, a little milk or cream, lunchies, suppertime, sitting in the Mazda with me, running for treats up and down the stairs (with both my husband and me) after supper, and then more running for treats before bedtime and a bedtime snack, and a few last treats left in various spots around his room, before I closed the door for the night. I spent my days trying to make Dexter happy, trying to adore him, trying to love him every second he was here. I was happy to do that. I am lost without him.
This is not the ending that we hoped for, but we feel we made the right decision, and we will now try to learn to live with it. If you have a beloved pet, please give it a hug and a kiss from us, and say your love out loud. We always did.
Dexter, my beautiful, beloved boy, go well.
We will meet up with you again in the Next Place.
We will always love you.
The soundtrack song is Dolly Parton, with I Will Always Love You.
I'm including links to a few of the Dexter blips for you to enjoy. If you go back through my Blips, you will find many, many more.
Meet Dexter the Tabby! (Dexter's first blip!)
My Office-Mate Snores . . . and Purrs
Dexter and Me
Top Drawer Tabby
The Look of Love
My Two Loves
Let's Just Stay Under the Covers and Be Cats
Draw Me Like One of Your French Girls
Dexter and Me
The Very Special Gift: A Portrait of Dexter
Spring Cleaning: Dexter and Me Under the Bed
The Sultan of Swing
In Which Dexter's Room Gets Cleaned
Caturday: Dexter Looking Out the Window
With Dexter as My Co-Pilot