But the joy of being home again, with my husband and kitties, was dampened Saturday night. The unthinkable happened. My sweet, baby Oliver died in Eric's arms. It was a blur...a dream...a nightmare. Eric and I were relaxing on the couch; watching some Friends. Oliver was cuddled up to my legs, laying on the blanket on my lap. He jumped straight up 2 ft into the air, looking as if something had spooked him (cat's have freaky senses and sometimes get scared by something we can't even see or hear). As I looked to make sure he was ok (he had jumped off the couch), I saw his poor little body was continuing to freak out! I leapt to my feet and yelled to Eric that something was seriously wrong...both our stomachs jumped into our throats...No, Oliver, this couldn't be happening! I ran faster than the wind to our neighbor's house, who is a vet. Though it was the least of my concerns in that moment, I later apologized for having interrupted his dinner with his family. He told me where we could take him to an emergency vet (which thankfully was less than 3 min. from our house). As I sprinted back in our house, we gathered Oliver up in the carrier and rushed to the vet...but Eric already knew what was true: Oliver was already gone, having died in his arms within 2 min. of his body's initial reaction. He was taken and rushed to their examination room, and we were brought into a private waiting room. Moments later, the vet came to tell us that Oliver had passed on. The world was spinning - I couldn't breathe. I couldn't see straight with more tears streaming down my face than I knew my tear glands were possible of making. I wanted her to check again, and to keep checking until they found his pulse. He couldn't be gone - he was my baby and I couldn't bear leaving without him purring in my arms, having been assured that he would be ok. But instead, I was having to sit in this waiting room, having to say my goodbyes to the most affectionate, sweet spirited I've ever known. I feel like it is amazing how much we, as humans, can learn from our dear pets. Oliver did not know the emotion 'mad' or 'mean'. He had no concept what a grudge was or how to hold one. He only knew love and affection, comfort, and joy. Those traits of his character were the contributions he made to my life. His soft, tender purring never failed to calm my anxious or sad heart on the hard days. He would just come and sit with me, purring to soothe my concerns. On the happy days, he was a hoot - trying to show Marzell who was boss (hilarious) and barking at the birds outside. He loved to play, chasing toys up and down the hallway in his distinctively erratic and uncoordinated way. He loved to burrow under blankets or anything separating you from him, in order to get himself as close to you as he could manage. We miss the pitter-patter of little paws following us around the house; Oliver defined the essence of companionship flawlessly.
Eric and I have been considering so many reflections of life out of our unexpected loss of Oliver. We cling to each other with a renewed value on just how fragile life is. It is not something to take for granted or to expect control over, no matter how healthy or young we think we are. We are but a breath; James 4:14 says, "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."
The Lord gave us the blessing of a lifetime having Oliver and we will always treasure the precious memories and photos we have of him. I know time will heal and believe me, I am counting on it, because right now my heart feels broken in pieces.
My sweet baby, Oliver, you will be missed.