(By Baxie) This has been a particularly difficult week for my family. As some of you know, my family said goodbye to our cat, Ozzy, on Wednesday. Ozzy was 18-years old when he died. He lived a long and very happy life. It is not exaggeration to say that he was a beloved part of our family. He will be deeply missed not just by me and my wife, but by my three daughters who are struggling to make sense of their overwhelming grief.
Ozzy had been suffering with kidney failure for nearly two years. We had placed him on a special diet. We administered regular subcutaneous fluids to keep his kidneys hydrated. He had lost a considerable amount of weight over the last 12 months. Yet, he was still playful and very active. Over the last few days Ozzy began to exhibit the signs that he was losing his fight to stay alive. He grew lethargic. He began losing weight even more rapidly. He refused to eat. He had trouble walking. He was clearly in distress and was letting us know that his time was running out.
On Tuesday night my wife and I discussed calling the vet to see what sort of options would be available to Ozzy. When my oldest daughter, Sophie, asked if we thought he was dying, it became very clear to all of us what we were facing. We knew that the end was close and that it was time to say to goodbye. It was a very late night on Tuesday. We went from being consumed with tears to talking about the moments in which Ozzy made us happy. It was a difficult night. Although in some ways, it was what we all needed. I also believe that Ozzy needed it to.
When I woke up the following morning (Wednesday), I made sure that Ozzy was still okay. I moved him to a beanbag chair that was placed near the warm wood stove, wrapped him in a blanket, and told him that I would be back. I grabbed my coat and then went to work.
At 6:15AM, I received a text from my wife that Ozzy had died and that my two oldest daughters, Sophie and Liza, were with him as he passed away. My youngest daughter, Kate had woken up minutes later. As I read the text, I felt my heart drop and my throat tighten. I needed to be home with my family. I told John and Steve what had happened. They were more than understanding—having been through the very same process with their pets as well. That’s when I left and drove back home.
This also happened to be Sophie’s 13th birthday. What should have been a joyous milestone in her life was met with tremendous sadness. Sophie was very close to Ozzy. This was truly the saddest day that my family has ever experienced. It was heartbreaking. It still is.
We tried to make the most of Sophie’s day. But her heart wasn’t is it. It was all that any of us could think about. We went out to dinner that night. But based upon what we had all gone through we couldn’t wait to leave and get back home.
The house seems empty without him right now. Everyone is trying to take things day by day. My wife and I have been trying so hard to help the girls manage their own sadness and simultaneously deal with our own sense of loss. It’s been devastating to all of us. But we also realize that life must go on. Ozzy’s loss is still very new. It takes time. We all realize that.
Ozzy was more than a cat to us. We adopted Ozzy soon after we moved into Westfield in 1995. My wife had never lived away from home before. Sue is very close to her parents and she was moving 1,000 miles away from them. To make the transition easier we decided to adopt a pet. I wanted to get a dog. Our landlord would only allow us to get a cat. So we got a cat instead. For us, Ozzy helped us get through a difficult and uncertain transition in our marriage. We were trying to reestablish ourselves with jobs, a new home, a new environment, and now—a new cat. He completely rose to the occasion. He was just simply a great cat. I find myself missing him terribly.
I posted a video soon after we buried Ozzy called “Distracted Family Emergency”. I felt that I needed to explain why I left the show so abruptly on Wednesday. I also wrote about it on Facebook. I received an overflow of support from listeners and friends. I wanted to thank you all for your kindness and your warm condolences. I was sincerely moved by your prayers and thoughts for myself and my family. We are still grieving. I’m sure that we will be for some time. But every day gets better and better. I’ve always believed that humor and laughter is essential in overcoming some of life’s most unfortunate situations.
Thank you for helping me to get there.