Every month, when I go to write my newsletter, I don’t have a plan necessarily…I just see what transpires in my life around that time and, without fail; there is an event or theme that presents itself. As my daughter lay sleeping this morning in my bed, having curled up there for the second night in a row, I feel ready to share the story of our own personal loss that took place a few days ago as the majority of the world watched the beautiful memorial for Michael Jackson.

Genny, (short for Genoba, an African name), came to us on Thanksgiving weekend in 2002 when I decided to surprise my kids. They had never had a cat and after having to give up our golden retriever shortly after my divorce three years prior, I felt it was time to bring a pet back into the house.

She was such a welcomed addition to our family and the unconditional love that animals not only represent but also evoke in their caretakers was an experience that I didn’t want my children to miss out on.

The sudden onset of diabetes in 2005 was a turning point in all of our lives. Genny’s disease became the expansion of my devotion and caring as a mother. The extra attention that she required was woven into my daily routine for the past 3 ½ years and I had, without question, accepted my role.

The signs had started to appear, but I continued to hold on and expend the funds necessary to keep her with us; including her recent downfall of being able to control her bladder.

I took Genny to the emergency vet as I could see that she was struggling – I was scared…scared of the decision that I might be faced with…I could feel the mounting guilt and self-judgment as I wrestled with the choice that was being presented.

I was advised that although it could be a sign that there was a serious affliction; then again it could have been as simple as a bladder infection, so I made the choice to get the medication required addressing the latter condition.

Within a few days she seemed like her old self again…purring as she turned over asking for her belly to be rubbed or come running at the tapping of the brush on the floor; she loved being brushed, that is until she made it very clear that she had had enough!

My gut told me that something wasn’t quite right so I asked for a sign…a sign from Genny that she was okay or for her to let me know if there was more going on.

I got my answer loud and clear as she declined rapidly. It had been a heavy week filled with the turmoil of emotions; I cancelled my clients and let myself just be in it. Throughout the week of Genny’s failing health, I continued to talk openly with both Melissa and Brandon about the decision I would have to make; not being able to afford the monetary outlay of anymore heroic attempts to save her as I had repeatedly done over the years. I encouraged them to share their feelings with me, even if they were mad at me.

I tried to put myself in their place as I remembered how I felt when the dog that I received on my twelfth birthday was put down without my knowledge or consent and I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to him.

It was important for me to do it differently and be very conscious, making my intentions clear with my children.

My daughter and I wrapped Genny in a towel and took her to where my son was at the time so that he could see her…I had told them that chances were that Genny would not be coming back home. He said his goodbyes and took some pictures with his phone, as he chose not to come with us and I respected his choice.

When we arrived at my regular veterinarian, the doctors were on lunch and although I had indicated the severity of her condition, they said they could not fit us in for quite some time…their attitude felt so cold and uncaring.

Melissa suggested that it was probably a sign that that wasn’t where Genny needed to be and we proceeded to the emergency vet that I had been to a week earlier.

This proved to be the right choice; the compassion and empathy of the staff was so wonderful as they ushered us into a private room with comfortable couches, pillows with butterflies on them and pictures of rainbows hanging on the wall.

As we sat there, I thought of how tired Genny must have been of the insulin injections that had to be administered twice a day to keep her with us (almost 2800 shots!) and how happy she would be to not have to run to the litter box (if she even would make it) every minute as the incontinence took control.

My daughter wanted to cuddle Genny and be with her until the end and they were so patient with us as we both cried our tears of letting her go.

The memories will come… as we walk by the place where Genny was always curled up in her bed; as I find rogue tufts of her hair in various corners as I clean the house; missing the clicking sound of the nail on the extra toe of her cuter than cute mitten like paws on the hardwood; hearing her bound down the stairs at the first sound of the cat food lid being peeled back or watching Cinderella, her sister, wandering around the house meowing for her.

The letting go of loved ones, animals or humans, is a natural cycle of life and what I believe was so important about this experience was encouraging my kids to feel their pain instead of protecting them from it, thereby ignoring mine.

We can’t take away anyone’s pain and I believe it is essential to teach our children, by our example, that it’s okay to feel and even more okay to release these feelings; otherwise they will keep building up… that’s what being emotionally fit is all about!

Make 2009 your year to become physically and emotionally fit!


Author's Bio: 

As a personal trainer for emotional fitness, author, speaker and awareness coach, Jo-Anne Cutler is passionately committed to inspiring and empowering others to find more peace and happiness in their lives by becoming emotionally fit and in her role as a child advocate, empowering others to be the conscious connected parents, teachers and role models our children need them to be. She has created an audio program called Breaking the Cycle, is in the process of writing her own book, is a certified coach using The Inner Workout™ and is also the agent/manager for Colleen Hoffman Smith who created this transformational emotional fitness program. Jo-Anne is the author of several published articles, co-author of 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, Vol. 2. and 101 Top Child Development and Parenting Articles. She offers private/virtual/phone coaching and consultations as well as a free monthly e-newsletter. Please visit www.jcconnections.ca