Thursday, August 20, 2015

Jewel's Journey: Her Final Day

Jewel sleeps on her green fleece blanket. Last week, I told you about Jewel's last few weeks here with us.  This post is also going to be difficult for some of you to read, but I appreciate anyone who can or anyone who wants to leave some kind words or hugs.  The anniversary of Jewel's passing is August 28th, and it is starting to make me quite sad.  Today I want to finally tell you about her last day here.

As I mentioned last week, our regular vet was on vacation when Jewel told me it was time for her to go (doesn't it always happen that when the vet goes on vacation, the babies really need them?).  I called another practice where a friend of mine works to schedule with them instead.  They are really out of the way, but I trust my friend, and she had given me some advice about Jewel in the past so knew her case a little.

It ended up working out for the best in the end.  At our vet's office, they weren't going to allow me to hold my baby while she went.  They told me she'd have to be on the metal table and that I could pet her, but it was too hard to get an IV in and allow me to hold her in my lap.  I didn't want Jewel to go that way.  It was too impersonal.  She deserved better.  I had been looking at different options for her passing beforehand just in case, but I never expected to need any of them so soon.

After I called my friend's practice and scheduled Jewel, "end of life" consultation for the next day, I sat on the floor with Jewel by her fountain in the kitchen and cried.  I couldn't imagine life without her.  So much of my life revolved around caring for her - everything from asking my friend D if he had given Jewel her numerous medications to me giving her subcutaneous fluids to me dropping everything to feed her whenever and whatever she wanted to just plain loving on her.

Jewel lays on her former owner's couch.
I couldn't imagine life without Jewel demanding treats from me or popping her head out of a kitty cube to see what I was doing or begging for food at dinnertime or sleeping near me in her pink bed while I worked on the computer.  I couldn't imagine my life without her no-nonsense attitude, her conversations with me, or the love she gave me.

Everyone told me I would "just know" when it was time to let her go because I would "see it in her eyes."  Seeing as I have a severe vision impairment (pun intended), I knew this wasn't going to be possible for me.  I can't read facial expressions.  Sometimes I can't even tell my cats apart if I can't touch them or hear their bells (which have different tones).  So I was really worried about how I'd know when Jewel was ready to go.

But by the grace of God, I was able to listen with my heart.  Believe me, I did not want to hear Jewel say that she was ready to go!  I wanted to hear anything but that.  Jewel began to tell me in little ways that her time was coming through her behavior over the last few weeks of her life.  But it wasn't until the last few days that I heard her loud and clear - it was her time to go to the Rainbow Bridge.  Carmine helped me get the message by beginning to distance himself from Jewel.  Carmine's behavior confirmed the awful truth for me.

On August 27th, 2014, as much as I didn't want to, I made the appointment for Jewel to take her journey to the Bridge.

Jewel relaxes in her green kitty cube.
Cinco, Manna, and Robin from Playful Kitty sent Jewel this card when she wasn't feeling well.

I put a towel on the floor for Jewel by her fountain so she wouldn't have to lay on the cold floor.  She didn't seem to be able to move very far, and I didn't want her to be uncomfortable.  After a bit of sitting there with her, I picked Jewel up and took her in the living room with me.  I sent D to get Jewel some tuna in a can to see if she wanted to drink a bit of the juice.  She didn't want any.

I put Jewel inside her little soft carrier and we took her outside in the little yard area outside my apartment building.  She always loved being outside, but I never let her out once she came to live here as it was too dangerous.  But this was her last night, and I knew she would be safe in her carrier.  I sat in the grass with her, but even the outdoors didn't interest her anymore.  She used to be so curious and happy in the grass.  It made me really sad, but we sat out there for a bit so she could enjoy some fresh air.

Jewel lays in her pink kitty cube, one of her favorite spots to hang out.
We came back in and I placed Jewel in one of her kitty cubes so she would be comfortable.  Those were her favorite places to be.  We decided not to give her any more pills.  We just wanted her to enjoy her last night.  At some point during the day, she urinated inside the pink cube, so we cleaned it out and dried it the best we could so she could go back in it if she wanted.  She ended up staying in one of the green cubes.

That night, D read to us like always.  We were reading the Divergent series, and we were on the final book, toward the end.  I tried hard to stay awake for the rest of the book so Jewel could hear the whole thing with us, but I eventually became too tired.  I took Jewel and sat her by my bed so she would be near me and slept for a few hours.

When I woke up, I spent more time with her before we had to leave for her appointment.  When D went to get something from the store, I had a talk with Jewel.  I told her how much I loved her and that I was only sorry that I didn't have the chance to spoil and love her for more than the two years she lived with me.  I told her I was sorry for the life she had before we met and told her how unfair it was, but that I was so glad she came into my life.  I told her she could come back and visit me any time she wanted (and she does).

Then I went and got Carmine and tried to tell him what was going on.  He already knew, of course.  He didn't want to hear it any more than I did and jumped off my lap and retreated into one of the cubes.

For the last 24 hours of her life, Jewel didn't leave my side.  I took her everywhere I went.  Yes, I even picked her up in her cube and took her to the restroom with me.  I don't mind if that makes me sound a little nuts.

I am friends with a local married couple who took us to the vet.  On the way, Jewel urinated on me.  I knew it was bad that it didn't smell like anything.  We were going to clean her up at the vet, but she didn't get any on herself.

Jewel pops her head up from her soft-sided carrier to get a bite of hamburger at Wendy's.
The vet was very peaceful, thankfully.  There were no dogs around when we arrived with her (our regular vet is a cat-only practice).  D sat Jewel on the scale and she trotted across it.  We think she lost about a pound in her last three weeks - she was down to about 8 pounds, 4 ounces.

I held Jewel in my lap until they called us back.  We all headed back - me, D, our married couple friends, and Jewel.  Yes, Jewel had a whole crowd there!

The room they use for their "end of life" consultations was very nice.  It had a big comfy couch, blankets, pillows, nice carpeting, and of course tissues.  I sat with Jewel in my lap while the vet tech asked us tons of questions and we relayed all that had happened in the past few weeks.  I rattled off her blood test results, which they were impressed by, but I just felt it was my job to know those numbers.

The vet came in and talked with us, too.  She said they could run tests, but it sounded like we already had done everything we could for Jewel.  It was really sweet - she even got all teary and she didn't even know my baby.  Jewel was a special kitty.

I told her that I didn't want Jewel to suffer anymore while Jewel looked at me from the exam table with her huge green eyes.

So they took her away to start her IV line.  When they brought her back, they put her in my lap again and all my friends present gathered around to pet Jewel and we all cried a lot.  They wrapped Jewel's front leg in a colorful gauze to keep her IV in place.  It was really pretty on her.

After a bit, the vet asked if we were ready and I said I was.  She gave her the medications and my Jewel went peacefully surrounded by so many people who loved and cared about her.  The whole room was full of love for my baby.

Jewel lays on the bedroom floor by a pile of books while my friend D reads to us from the Divergent series
Jewel loved to listen to D read to us while I knitted.

After her spirit left, the vet said she was sorry for our loss and left so we could all be alone with Jewel for however long we wanted.  I cried so hard I thought I was going to be sick.  I knew losing Jewel would be the hardest thing I'd have to do, but I had no idea just how much it would hurt.

I cried and cried and got Jewel's fur all wet.  D said something about how my tears would be in her ashes, which in a strange way was comforting.

When I had calmed down enough to be able to leave, the vet tech took my baby, gave us Jewel's plaster paw print and told us how to bake it, and the reciptionist told us she'd call us when Jewel's ashes were ready for pick up.  I just barely had enough money in the kitties' emergency fund to help Jewel get to the Rainbow Bridge and have her ashes returned to me, and I was so thankful that I did.  I wanted my baby to come back and be here at home with us.

An image of Jewel surrounded by colorful hearts. It says, "Jewel Forever" on the image as well.
As I write this, my heart breaks once again remembering her last day with us, but it is important to talk about our grief.

I will always hold on to the good memories I have of Jewel, and I will forever be thankful that with a lot of time and patience, Jewel learned that I was okay to love and trust as her human mom.  I'm blessed to have had Jewel in my life, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to take her out of a bad situation and give her a better life.  I only wish I could have given her more than a mere few years of love and comfort before she had to go.

Jewel: 1999 - August 28, 2014
Forever Loved.


  1. I'm pretty much an emotional mess today anyways because it's Truffles' 2nd Gotcha Day, but this just finished me off. I think tears are a method of healing though, so it's a good thing.

    Your last days with Jewel remind me so much of my last days with Tara...knowing time was running out and cherishing every last moment together. But your moments with Jewel at the very end were like me and Truffles...I cried over her little body so much it felt like my heart was going to break.

    "But by the grace of God, I was able to listen with my heart. " Those words are so incredibly beautiful. It also sounds like you had a wonderful, compassionate vet and dear friends surrounding you both. As hard as this was for you to write, I pray that it brings you comfort and peace.


  2. Oh Sierra... if only I could hug you right now... I know how very difficult it is to share such a personal story and my heart aches with you. As hard as it is to let go, you gave Jewel such a beautiful goodbye - one filled with such peace and love. That will always be your special gift to her. Much love to you - xoxox

  3. I´m crying here.
    Jewel, forever loved really.
    Receive my hugs.

  4. Sierra... Jewel was obviously so very loved. You gave her the best life, and you two got to share so many wonderful memories together. I think it is a testament to Jewel and to you that you had so many loved ones with you as you helped Jewel to take her journey across the Rainbow Bridge. Thank you for sharing this with us, and I hope that it has brought you some comfort and peace.

  5. Sierra this is a beautiful telling of all the love and devotion you have for Jewel in her last hours with you. They do tell us it's time to stop and that they need to go on to the next step in their journey, although we don't want to hear this. We don't want to be apart, I am so glad that you were there for Jewel during this time of her life. She truly needed you and your love & care. I bet she would tell you how grateful she was to you for giving her what she needed. YOU did give her everything she needed. There was kindness and compassion and above all else love. I have always said that Abby went from my loving arms to the arms of the Angels and so did Jewel. Sending you big hugs and purrs from all the kitties.

  6. It is a very hard thing to let your fur friend go, but it is the kindest thing you can do for them. Big hugs to you.

  7. Purrs to you - I know this must have been so hard for you to write. But I'm glad you did.

  8. That made us cry again too, we've so been there and understand the heart ache. Love and hugs from all of us.

  9. Dash would have been 9 this year and I feel his loss every day. He changed my world as Jewel changed yours. Jewel didn't remember hr times before you, only your total love and dedication. Peanut is 19 and may not be here long, again, another profound affect on our lives similar to Jewel on you. You did the best for Jewel every minute of every day and I will remember to take a favourite blanket down if Peanut doesn't pass in a sun puddle - which is my dearest wish in the whole world.

    This isn't coming out eloquently, but it's what I want to stay. Have no fear your conscience is clearer than pure crystal - Jewel had you, and you had her - how lucky you both where.

  10. Sierra, yes this was hard to read, but I'm so glad I did! Jewel gave and received so much love in her short time with you. This you will never forget or want to forget. Thank you for writing from your heart. Big hugs, Caro xxxx

  11. I am in tears reading of Jewel's last day with you. The love you had for her shines out of every word you have written. She knew unconditional love during her time with you, and when it was her time to pass, she went surrounded by love. (((hugs))) to you.

  12. Sierra;

    the first anniversary always seems to be the worst...and the days leading up TO it, seem to be more painful than the actual day itself.

    This post was beautifully written; it is an awesome testament to the love you and Jewel shared.

    As strange as this sounds, this post is one you NEEDED to write for you, and for Jewel ~~~~~~ ♥♥♥

    Thanx for sharing thsi as I know it was heart-wrenching


  13. For Jewel to have known so much love and caring from you and her extended family was a blessing. I know that may not make her loss any easier, but I think it was very important to Jewel. I'm glad she still visits you. My cat is 17 and I see reminders everyday of his age and it makes me sad, but it also reminds me to try to do as much as I can for him as you did for Jewel. Take care.

  14. My heart goes out to you, Sierra. Jewel was so very special and how wonderful that she could start her journey to the Rainbow Bridge surrounded by those who loved her. Anniversaries, first especially, are so hard. This past June 18 was the first anniversary of the passing of Gus, my most special cat ever. He was the biological brother of Timmy, the therapy cat I wrote about in Purr Therapy, and he nurtured and loved several generations of cats as well as my husband and me. He was shy with strangers (so never was a therapy cat in my practice) but with us, he was wonderfully therapeutic. He was 16 when he left for the Rainbow Bridge and we miss him every day. My best wishes and hugs to you as you approach this difficult anniversary. But I have a feeling that Jewel is never far away from you since you invited her to stay close!

  15. Sierra, I'm sending soft purrs and warm hugs to you today. As hard as it was to write and read, this message needs to be out there not only for your own healing but for anyone who has been through pet loss or facing it in the future. Every step of the journey is peppered with questions and every pet lover needs to know their questions, doubts, fears are normal and they aren't alone.

  16. We are sending lots and lots of Noodle hugs to you...
    Sometimes being able to share how you are feeling can be very cathartic, we hope that is the case.

    Noodle and crew

  17. This was such a loving, beautiful tribute to Jewel. I am sending you lots of love and healing energy on this difficult day.

  18. This was such a loving, beautiful tribute to Jewel. I am sending you lots of love and healing energy on this difficult day.

  19. I know this wasn't easy for you to write, Sierra, and I can feel the love you had for Jewel in every word you've written. It's never easy saying goodbye to our furbabies...especially one as special as Jewel was to you. Hugs. ~Island Cat Mom

  20. Thank you for sharing Jewel's last day with us. It's the hardest thing to go through, and I'm glad that it was a peaceful experience for you. I love that you never left her side during her last 24 hours, and that she was surrounded by so much love during her final moments. Sending you love and healing energy as you remember your beautiful girl.

  21. I wept as I read this.My Kalli was born in 1999 and went to The Bridge on July 7,2014.I I was able to hold her as she passed. A little Colorado spruce marks her resting place.

  22. I wept as I read this.My Kalli was born in 1999 and went to The Bridge on July 7,2014.I I was able to hold her as she passed. A little Colorado spruce marks her resting place.

  23. I wept as I read this.My Kalli was born in 1999 and went to The Bridge on July 7,2014.I I was able to hold her as she passed. A little Colorado spruce marks her resting place.

  24. Jewel was so fortunate to have your love.

  25. Poor Jewel, I wish she could have been loved by you and spoiled longer, but the important thing is she knew how loved she was. It is good to talk about grief and share it. I wish I had known about all the caring people in the blogosphere back in 2010 when I lost my KaChoo.

  26. Mum and us are in tears while reading your wonderful tribute to your beloved special Jewel. Hugs and purrs.

  27. Thank you so very much for this post. Yes, it was hard to read but it has brought me huge comfort from when I was with my beloved Stran and had to make a similar decision. The 'knowing' it is time still brings me doubt but your post just confirms what I think we all know at that awful time - that it is time to say farewell. I am so glad you held Jewel and there was so much love there when she passed.
    And again, I really do thank you for this post.

  28. Weez so sowry fur yous loss. Weez know yous luvved hers very much and in those 2 years Jewel sperienced a lifetime of luv. Mommy has lost kitties faw to yung by fings dat she believes kulda been purrvented ifin she had moowe gween papers and knowledge and better VETs. But she sez, no amount of time togedder is ever enuff. Weez sendin' hugs and purrayers.

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Lexi

  29. We know that was hard for you to put down fur all of us to read in your blog...we send lots of big hugs.

    Your words brought back memories of letting our angels go too.....