Goodbye, Kazik.


Almost a dozen years ago, when my daughter went to the animal shelter in Boston to get a cat, she saw him slumped in the corner of his cage, looking (in human terms) depressed — unlike the other cats who were vying for her attention. When she had the cage opened and lifted him out, he immediately put his paws around her neck and started purring, nuzzling her neck and then hunkering down into her arms and sighing with relief. When put pack into his cage, he went back to his corner and lay as if dead. The worker there told of how he hated the cage and how unlikey it would be for someone to adopt the two-year old of mound of matted, hacked out, and drooling fur.
She was hooked.
Cleaned up, fed, and loved, he turned into an amazingly kingly feline in both nature and stature (despite his short legs).
She named him Kazik, the nickname for Kazimierz, which translates into Casimir, which is the name of one of Poland’s greatest kings.
Kazik had been having some physical problems lately. The test had shown a urinary track infection, diabetes, and more. He was on medication.
Yesterday evening, she found him on the floor near his litter box, laboring to breathe. They rushed him to the veterinary emergency room. All four of them went together — my daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and Kazik. It was past the toddler’s bedtime, but they all went together. Kazik was deeply loved by all of them.
Only three of them came back. They had to make the tough but necessary decision. Kazik died in her arms.
On the way home, my grandson insisted that he didn’t want to leave Kazik there. “Nooo, want Kazik to come home!”
They tried to explain that sometimes animals and people, like trucks, get broken. Sometimes you can fix them. But sometimes you can’t. They are too broken.
She had just had a similar conversation with him about Bambi’s mother. “Want Bambi to be with his mother!” he cried. She didn’t talk about the hunter; rather she told him that Bambi’s mother was hurt and broken. And how his father would take good care of him. “Nooo! Fix Bambi’s mother!”
When my grandson asks, they will tell him that Kazik is never coming home. That he was too broken to fix. They will talk about how they all loved him and how sad they all are that their wonderful pet is gone, and they will soon let him pick out his own cat from the shelter.
It’s my grandson’s first lesson about dying. It’s only the beginning of the lesson. As he asks, they will do their best to explain — within the context of their non-religious beliefs. (It’s so much simpler to explain if you believe in heaven.)
Kazik, yesterday. My mom at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Life is a long letting-go.

Goodbye, Kazik. You were, indeed, a loveable king of cats.

9 thoughts on “Goodbye, Kazik.

  1. It is — life is a long letting go. And we spend so many of our early decades, trying to acquire, the middle ones, trying to hold on…
    Again, Elaine, I thank you for this post, as all your previous ones on letting go. My mother, though out and about in all ways still, is likely to be needing care in the not so distant future, and I am learning so much about the grace with which this can (and has to be) done from you.

  2. Thanks for the tribute. While I had a short, intense cry while holding him as he slipped away, my son was in the car with my husband and I didn’t want him to see me so upset (he is far too empathetic for one so young). So after they took Kazik away, I spent five seconds in the waiting room doing deep breathing, a few shakes of hands and feet, and then ran out the door to the car waving and smiling like a madwoman to my son as he sat pretending to drive.
    I worked so hard at pushing it down last night, wanting everyone to just get a good night’s sleep that I really didn’t feel tears again until reading this and digging up pics to go with it.
    He was a rare cat to find in a shelter. I will miss him

  3. Doggone it, I can get choked up even when pets I don’t even know die. When my own critters pass on, I am a red-eyed, bed-head mess for days….I find it very difficult to “get over it” very quickly. The dogs and cats who have passed thru my life have all been part of my family and we grieve — because that little furball IS one of our own. It is so hard to let them go.
    The process of grief is understood by our own beautiful Humane Society, which holds regular meetings with people who have had a loss and helps them with the grieving process. It probably sounds ridiculous to many people, but for those who truly regard their pets as their friend and companion, the grief is quite real.

  4. Before I left Manhattan for Boston I had to put my cat down. The Cat Hospital there was extraordinary, had come to know both of us well because she was sick for a while. They sent me a card with the following poem:
    …Grieve not,
    nor speak of me with tears,
    but laugh and talk of me
    as if I were beside you…
    I loved you so —
    ’twas Heaven here with you.
    I was immensely touched and have it framed still.
    I look at it now again.
    It hurts. Kazik was my first companion in a new city and the most affectionate, people-needing feline I have ever known.

  5. I grieve with you, Elaine. And I’ve just hugged my Datsa a little bit harder; as far as I’m concerned he’s been living on borrowed time for the past year and a half, and it’ll be just as hard to let him go.

  6. Wow–he was truly a king among cats. What a beautiful animal. I am glad your family can share feelings abou these things. It may feel painful, but your honesty is what will make it all LESS painful as time goes on.

  7. Your cat is indeid a very lovly cat (cute!)
    sorry for it…
    I also loved my cat caramel
    but it time to chage page and start over
    now I have a lovely cat name maya she the same tabby
    then caramel but she is a ”she-cat” not a ”cat”
    Good bye!
    Love your kitty! (cute again!)

  8. One more thing…
    ”Your cat will be honord by StarClan ”heaven for the cats”
    If you want more information on StarClan
    read Warriors -into the wild-
    Its the best book ever on chats ”fantasty”
    ANd Starclan may rest whit you!

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