Pink’s final days as he lost his battle with renal lymphoma
Listen while you read to “Sayonara, Arigatou”, a piece Chi had written many years ago that we started working on right before Pink became ill and dedicated to him when he passed. This video is from Pink’s funeral.
This post in which I discussed various alternative therapies I tried in order to support the conventional chemotherapy treatment Pink was receiving left off with Pink in what appeared to be acute cachexia.
Pink’s eyes got increasingly swollen and irritated-looking day by day, and by Monday, he no longer had the strength to squat when he used the toilet, so he had to crouch down on the surface of the litter to pee. He also was getting more and more distressed at getting his subcutaneous fluids and by Tuesday, he could hardly move on his own anymore. I took Wednesday off from work to take care of him, as the Hydrazine Sulfate I had ordered was supposed to arrive on that day. That was our last-ditch hope to save him.
Somewhat oddly, Pink’s other parameters had stayed well within the normal range while the cancer progressed, right up until the end, i.e., his temperature, blood pressure, liver & kidney function, etc. It appeared that once the cancer had outsmarted the chemo drugs (i.e., mutated in a way that made it impervious to them) and reached his bloodstream, it seemed to grow very rapidly, quickly progressing into acute cachexia, which ultimately killed him.He spent his last night nestled between us in bed. His body temperature was so low that I didn’t think he would make it through the night. I doubled the kitty blanket over him to help keep him warm, and we took turns holding his hands (forepaws) throughout the night. He was still (barely) with us when we woke up, and did his best to purr for us. His eyes were swollen almost completely shut. I emailed in to work letting them know that I would be out for one more day.
I had meant to give him a bath the day before, but didn’t get around to it, so I wanted to make good on my promise to keep him clean since he’d been too weak to groom himself, or even get to the bathroom when he needed to go. We gave him a quick warm bath – just his underside/legs/tail – and his eyes opened very wide and he began kicking his hind leg as if trying to scratch his neck. We took him out of the water and dried him off. We were going to take him out on the front veranda to sit in the sun with him to dry his fur, but there was some construction work going on next door and the loud noise was too distressing, so we brought him back to the bedroom to wait for it to stop. During the previous day and evening, each of the other Panache Cats had individually come to the master bedroom where Pink was lying to check in with him and say goodbye.
I was rummaging around in the linen closet getting a clean, dry towel for Pink when Chi shouted, “Hey, come here now! This may be the last!” I rushed into the room and knelt down beside Pink, whose breathing was getting fainter and fainter. His eyes were still wide-open, and Chi was gently massaging them closed. We held him close as he took his last breath and his brave little heart stopped beating around 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, May 17, about one week short of what would have been his 3rd birthday. His color quickly drained away. His pink ears went white, as did his nose, lips, and his little pink toes.
When the maddening racket next door finally ceased, I gently picked him up, taking care with his head as Chi cautioned me, and we took Pink out front for our last “chotto-soto” together. I held him on my lap out on the veranda where the warm sun gently dried his fur, instead of blow-drying it, which he would have hated. It was a spectacularly beautiful day, and we sat in the sun sipping green tea and tearfully said our final goodbyes to our beautiful, beloved little angel. Our next door neighbors came over to express their condolences.
Chi suggested cutting a few flowers from the garden for Pink, and after doing that I went in my home office and found a clean, new cardboard box top from a paper carton I had brought home from the day job. We laid Pink in the improvised “coffin”, still on the red towel that had since dried, and Chi lovingly arranged the flowers over his body. Even in death, he still looked just as beautiful and sweet as he always had at the peak of health. If it weren’t for the flowers, it would look as if he had just settled down on the towel in the box to take a nap. Chi urged me to find a crematorium for pets and get an appointment as soon as possible since Pink’s body would start to decompose quickly given the warm weather. I looked around online, settled on a facility that was reasonably near us and seemed decent and affordable, and then called Pink’s hospital to let them know he had passed and get their recommendation for a crematorium. They recommended the same place that I had chosen based on my online search, so I called and was told that we could bring him in that afternoon.
Handing Pink’s dear little body over to the sympathetic lady at the crematorium vividly reminded me of the cremation of Chi’s mother following her unexpected suicide on September 1st, 2002. I distinctly remembered the profound sense of finality and the stricken look on Chi’s face as her coffin was pushed through the furnace door to the waiting fire inside. We were told that we could come pick up Pink’s ashes the next afternoon. We spent the rest of that day and the next one in a numb state of shock. I went to work and forced myself to go through the motions of trying to look like I was working until about 1:00 PM when I left so we could go back to the crematorium to pick up Pink’s ashes. We did an improvisatory funeral for Pink on Friday evening, May 18 that we live streamed.
So now we are trying to find our way into a “new normal” and sweep up the wreckage of our shattered lives. We have each been grieving in our own unique way. I miss him most acutely when I’m cooking dinner, as he very often used to hang out in one of his favourite places on top of the water heater adjacent to the kitchen and watch me work while Chi practiced in the living room on the other side of the kitchen. I also really miss him hanging out with Jaco and me when I’m working in my home office before and after dinner, and having him snuggled up with Jaco and Laxmi in bed with me. Gureyo sleeps with Chi in his room. Of course we both miss him immensely when we finish our nightly Panache rehearsal and he would always come running into the room and jump on Chi’s chair and roll around purring his head off, asking to be petted.
Jaco was so depressed and heartbroken that he would barely eat for several weeks, wandering around the house looking lost and forlorn, since he and Pink had been inseparable ever since Pink joined our family. They were especially tightly bonded, and almost constantly together. As Chi aptly put it one day, Pink thought Jaco was his bed. Gureyo and Laxmi mourned his passing in their respective bitchy, reticent ways. Eventually Gureyo and Jaco began acting like a couple again after a few years where all they did was bicker over household maintenance and kids like most married people, and Laxmi has become a lot more friendly and affectionate toward her ‘human parents’, presumably since she lost her little brother who she used to play and fight with, and her cat dad is being more attentive to his cat wife and spending less time with her. We trust that Pink will send the right cat or kitten to take his place at the right time, and in the meantime, we’re just trying to heal.