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JohnFitzgerald

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Posts: 628
 #1 
Good Evening, Everyone, 

Yesterday was a day that brought back so many memories and so many emotions. You see, everyone, it was eight years ago that I had to make the heartbreaking decision to send my little buddy Van Gogh, a true gentleman of a Maine Coon Cat, on a journey to a place where he would be forever spared from the pain, suffering, and discomfort from that which had afflicted him during his last days.

I had the joy of meeting Van Gogh in March of 2003, shortly after I had lost my friend Nibbles, a tuxedoed Mane Coon Cat that I had adopted from my brother some years before. The poor little guy had succumbed to heart failure, and I so wanted to find a new friend. I went to my stepmother's. Carol was very active in Maine Coon Rescue, an organization active in the placement and adoption of Maine Coon Cats nationwide. She was a foster home, keeping cats in her care until placed, and the driving them to their new homes. I went to visit her, and after visiting with several of her charges, I chosen Socks for my roommate. Socks was a Tabby/Maine Coon Mix who was on top of the fridge, and thought he would be a great friend for Jay. I had actually a friend that I had chosen for myself, but then Carol had wanted me to go with her into the garage and meet Van, who was relaxing in a shoulder high crawl space. I peered in, and while I could not see him, I gently called out, saying, "Hi Van!", and was greeted back with a raspy meow, at which time, he crawled out of the crawl space into my arms. 

It was love at first sight for us both.

At that point, I said to Carol, "You know he's coming home with me, don't you?" 

After he had his shots, and was given a check up, I brought the two of them home, and as Jay got to know Socks, I got to get to know my little buddy. After I let him out of the carrier, Van walked around the living room twice, then lay down on the carpet by the sofa, starting to purr. My little buddy knew he was home.

And so began many years of a wonderful friendship between us. Over time, Van and I had gotten to develop a language between us, and many little habits and traditions. Any time I was lying on the couch, if he walked by, he would look up, I would flutter my fingers, and he would then jump on the couch, step up on my chest, and we would nap together, or we would just have quiet time, him purring, and my telling him about my day at work, or whatever came to mind. If I was sitting on the couch, and he walked by, I would sometimes pick up his brush which was kept on the lower shelf of the coffee table, make a gesture of brushing, and he would jump up on the couch next to me, and I would brush his coat, scratch behind his ears, and he loved the routine; it was just like he was in the barber's chair getting the full treatment. Anytime I came home from work or errands, I would put my key in the door, and I would hear a thud on the other side, then hear him either coming down the stairs or coming across the floor to meet me at the front door. When the day was over, and I would go to bed, if he stayed downstairs or followed me up, I would always end our day by scratching behind his ear and letting him know "Daddy loves you." I must have said that to him several times a day, as I wanted him to know that after his earlier years, he had finally found a forever home. 


Whenever I had brought Van to the vets, he was always so gentle, and the doctors loved working with him. I never had to use a carrier with him, and in the cat's waiting room, he always lay beside me, purring and resting comfortably, just like he knew that our visits were for what was best for him. His doctors loved working with him. He was actually diagnosed with feline diabetes, but never once did he put up a fuss during his treatments. He always cooperated during his shots, both at home and at the vets, adapted to his diet, and took his medications without fuss. Again, he was a true gentleman. After several months, when talking with his doctor, she had determined that the insulin and medicine were no longer required, and all he needed to do was stay on his diet. She gently quipped, "He's not diabetic, but he really wants to be." His years continued with his gentle demeanor, always being a true welcoming host when people came to visit, never getting ruffled when my roommate's younger niece and nephew came by. He always stayed so calm, so easy going, and he always knew what mattered most: Daddy loves him.

Sadly, his health had started to decline in his later years, and it was in the beginning of June that I had noticed that he wasn't as mobile as he used to be, and he started eating less. I was going to make an appointment with the doctor, but when I came home one night, I found him on the floor, difficulty breathing, slightly frothing. I called the twenty four emergency hospital and rushed him down, where they quickly ran tests, and put him in an oxygen chamber. He actually seemed a little better, but could not leave his chamber without having trouble breathing. After running tests and xrays, they found out that he had a collapsed lung and an acute infection as a result that was not responding to antibiotics. I had been told that respiratory problems apparently were common to senior Maine Coon Cats. I was presented with a couple of treatment options, including steroids, different invasive procedures, certain therapies, all of which were no guarantee, potentially more damaging, definitely more painful and discomforting. I knew there was no choice, and it was at that time that I knew that I had to make a truly painful, heart aching decision. I love(d) my little buddy so much, but I also made a promise to him when we first met that I would forever keep him happy, healthy, and protected from pain, discomfort, and suffering. I could no longer do it here, so it was time to send him to where he could be forever healthy, forever comfortable, in the company of the wonderful friends that shared my life over the years. At that time, I spoke with the doctor, left work, and went to see my little buddy. When I walked in, he was in his little room, and I went to spend time with him after speaking with the doctors again. Shortly after, the doctor came in, and as Van began his journey, I stayed with him, scratched him behind his ears, and let him know that which I had made known to him so many years before: "Daddy loves you".

Those first days were so very hard. I could not stop crying. I would come home from work and put my key in the door, and then realize that Van was not on the other side, and would start sobbing all the harder. It was only through meeting the may wonderful people in this community, with their support, insight, wisdom, compassion, and love, that I was able to make it through those first days and weeks.

In the coming weeks, I had actually received a cast of his pawprint, as well as some very heartfelt sympathy cards from the doctors. I actually have also had, over the years, signs and dreams which have proven that my little buddy Van has been letting me know, in his way, that he is fine, healthy, and, during one very special dream last fall, I got the chance to pick him up and hug him one more time. However, everyone, this post is not about me. rather, it is about a truly wonderful Maine Coon who brought life, love, and joy to a middle aged workaholic who desperately needed a friend.

To that end, everyone, to those of you who may read this post, with replies or not, may I please ask for your thoughts and prayers for a wonderful feline who rescued me from myself as much as he was rescued? I am sure that as this is written, he has made many wonderful friends with the beloveds of the members of this community, and that one and all are sharing wonderful memories.

Everyone, thank you for your attention, and please know how much I offer my thoughts, hopes, prayers, and heart to all of you as you remember your beloveds likewise. And if I may everyone, please remember that which matters most above all else:

All is well with love,
john
Mondo

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 994
 #2 
Hi John,

  Nice to see you remembering Van Gogh - but how could you forget?  Never.  Your words made me smile as they made me think of my Tuffy.

 The private language we share with our beloved fur kids.  A look, a gesture, and both "know".  It's so special.  

 And those first days, weeks.  Well, for me, the first year.  Here you are 8 years later.  How time flies.  I also have dream visits, just this month in fact.  Early on it was frequent, and so real.  

 Thoughts and prayers to Van Gogh.  Never really gone, always with you, and a part of you with him.  Yet we know there is a reunion to come.

Hugs,
Tuffy, Toby, Ellie and Missy's Dad
KatMomWolf

Registered:
Posts: 276
 #3 
Dear John.
My heart is with you at this bridge day time.
Sending love and purrs from my cat to you and the beautiful spirit of Van Gogh
Forever loved
Forever missed

Katmomwolf5 and bubbles♥️
ourbrandy

Registered:
Posts: 1,007
 #4 
Hi John:

I have always loved reading your stories of Van Gogh and the special relationship that the two of you had.  He gave you comfort and love when you needed it most.  That's what these special furbabies do and when they are gone from our midst the grief is unbearable at times.

But what would life have been like if they hadn't come into our homes and hearts?  It will be six years in a couple of weeks that Brandy had to leave us and a year and a half when our sweet Miriam made her journey.

We have since adopted a 7 year old cocker spaniel, Bree, who has filled our home with love and laughter.  We will never forget our Brandy and Miriam and I know they are watching over us just as your Van Gogh watches over you.

Thank you for sharing and I know Van Gogh's 8 year bridge day was filled with lots of friends to run and play with.

Sending hugs to you and Van Gogh,

Barb (Angel Brandy's and Angel Miriam's mom - and now mom to Bree)
~forever~
InMemoryOfRascal

Registered:
Posts: 2,429
 #5 
John, I don't visit the site as often as much any longer but stopped in today.  Saw your post.  Oh how I remember your Van Gogh.  Your stories of your boy always made me happy; I came to love Van Gogh and hope that he and my two (Rascal & Rambo) hang out together.  

I send the biggest hug and kisses to your Van Gogh.  Such an impressive boy and so very loved.

And same to you John.  You are the best loving dad in the world.  And you are a great person.  In those early days after I lost my Rascal you were always there with a kind word for me...thank you.

Van Gogh - thank you for being so special, so loved and for letting your dad share you with us!

Take care
InMemoryOfRascal....and Rambo
JohnFitzgerald

Registered:
Posts: 628
 #6 
Good afternoon, everyone, 

Thank you all for your thoughts and kind words for remembering my little buddy Van Gogh.

There is not one day that doesn't go by where he is not thought of, and I thank you for sharing your kindness,

I apologize for taking so long in expressing my gratitude, by while late in coming, no less heartfelt.

To all of you, please know that my thoughts, prayers and hopes are always with all of you, your loved ones, and our wonderful beloved companions who brought us here to share our  
grief and sadness, but also our wisdom, insight, compassion, and love.

All is well with love,
john

Dogmommy

Registered:
Posts: 376
 #7 
What a truly beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your beloved Van Gogh. It brought tears to my eyes. How very blessed he was to have you for a daddy and how very blessed you were to have him. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.
brenrae

Registered:
Posts: 4,727
 #8 
John, your memories of Van Gogh, I know mean so much to you. It is good to have these memories, the happy and the sad, for Van Gogh is a special boy. He had picked you to be his person, and you and him have such a wonderful bond. These special ones bring so much to our lives, as they reach out to us with all the love in their hearts. I know these anniversary are hard, no matter the time that passes. It is like you live it all over again, and your heart breaks again. But, as you remember your boy, I hope you do so with a smile on your face. Remembering the good times, all his mannerisms, all the things that made him unique. We may cry a little as we remember, but, we were so very blessed that we were the ones chosen by them. 
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