Our Vacuuming Ritual

Open hall cupboard.

Lani and I look at each other.

I pull out the vacuum cleaner and say; “Don’t worry, darling, it’s just Henry. We’ll let him have a look around and then we’ll put him away again.”

Lani, still looking up at me, cracks a dolphin smile and then goes to lie down on her chair for the duration.


It doesn’t seem like twelve days and four hours ago that I said goodbye to Kye.

Today, her ashes are ready for me to collect from the veterinary clinic. I’m about to make my way there now. I know it’s not her but I need to bring them home. Hopefully someone somewhere might scatter us together off the cliffs at Portland Bill or at the top of Grouse Mountain, when that time comes.

I know it’s just ashes. I know that but it’s a small comfort and, despite my head telling me it’s ridiculous and meaningless, one I feel compelled to cling to.

Dear Kye…

… I know I can’t, but if I could it would go something like this:

Dear Kye,

I know you don’t think I sent you away. I know you don’t think I didn’t want you any more. I know you don’t think I didn’t love you enough to keep you with me, or take you home after what I had to do. I have to keep repeating these things to myself but deep down I do know they’re true.

What I did was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, or will do, but I did it because I love you. I did it because if I hadn’t you would have begun to suffer and I couldn’t let that happen.

I will miss you every day. I will miss kissing your nose, rubbing your beautiful soft ears, holding your huge powerful paws and hugging your thick fluffy neck. I’ll miss the gentle way you took a treat from my hand and the way you’d always look at me as if to say ‘thank you’. I’ll miss the view of your tail bouncing along beside Lani’s. She misses you too, she’s still waiting by the front door for you to come home. But don’t worry, you know I’ll look after her. We’ll look after each other.

I’ll never forget you, Princess. Never.

With all my love, always,

~ Mama ~

And So It Ends

This is the most difficult thing I will ever write.

I wasn’t able to stay with Kye when I took her for her ultrasound scan this morning. The nurse there told me the specialist she was due to see was already doing another ultrasound and wasn’t sure when he’d be doing Kye’s, so I had to leave her there and go home to wait for a phone call.

I arrived home at around 9:30, made a cup of tea and then sat on my sofa and watched it go cold.

The phone rang at 10am.

The words “it isn’t good news, I’m afraid” ripped through my heart and stomped the breath from my lungs.

The ultrasound showed a splenic tumor, a particularly aggressive kind of tumor.

I was gently offered two choices. Steroids would make Kye happier for a day or two, possibly a week or two. Alternatively I could give permission for Kye to be put to sleep today and, if I wanted to, go back down to the veterinary clinic and say goodbye first.

I said I would be there in half an hour. I took a shower and had a conversation with myself. If she’d been who I looked to for my strength for the past 13 years, where would the strength come from to do this?

I arrived back at Park Veterinary Centre at around 10:30 and was shown to a small private room to wait until I could go upstairs to see Kye. Inside the room were three chairs and a cat carrier with a small white pet quilt piled on top of it. I wondered who had left it there… and why.

The walls of the room were covered in framed photographs of dogs, cats, rabbits and even one of an eagle. They all had names and dates on them.

A nurse opened the door and asked me if I’d like to go upstairs now, so I stood up and followed her along the clinical white corridor and up a winding flight of stairs to the room where people’s pets go to recover from their surgeries.

I felt as though someone had hold of my lungs with both hands and was shaking them roughly and my heart was pounding.

As I walked into the room the first face I saw was Kye’s. She was sitting up in a large double-doored floor level cage in the corner and she lit up when she saw me.

I rushed over to the cage and noticed her leash and choke chain had been carefully and neatly bundled up and attached to the outside of the door.

I opened up the left door and reached inside to hold her. I felt a rush of fear, despair and agony as I kissed her face over and over and rubbed her beautiful soft ears.

The cage was large enough that I could sit in it. There was some chicken on the floor that the nurses had obviously tried to tempt her with, with no success. I saw that her left leg was bandaged and that underneath the bandage was the piece of kit that a syringe fits into when an injection is being administered.

I was told that the vet I had spoken with was in surgery and would be about half an hour…

Half an hour.

I spent that time talking to Kye. Saying ‘thank you’ to her. Telling her how much I loved her and how lucky I was to have had her in my life. I said it all over and over as if saying it again and again might make her understand. I wanted so much for her to understand what I was saying.

She settled after about ten minutes and curled up beside me, resting her head on her paws like she does at my feet at home. She closed her eyes. I kept talking.

At about 11 am a young man entered the room. He explained that the specialist I had spoken with earlier was still in surgery and that he’d been asked to come and offer to perform the procedure.

Kye started to look like she was getting anxious and I knew I couldn’t put off what I needed to do any longer.

I was handed a consent form. The words ‘death warrant’ shot through my mind as I signed it.

The vet asked me to switch to the right side of Kye so that he could reach her left leg easily. He sat down where I had been sitting and I moved to Kye’s other side. I put my right arm over her neck and stroked her beautiful face and held her paw with my left hand.

I nodded when the vet asked me if he should go ahead.

The syringe was huge and filled with bright blue fluid. I watched the vet attach it but closed my eyes when he began to apply pressure to the plunger.

I began my cycle of short sentences again. This time including the words ‘Bye, Big Bear. Bye, Kye. Bye, Princess’.

A few minutes later I asked if she was gone. The vet used a stethoscope to check Kye’s heart. He looked at me and nodded and said ‘yes. she’s gone now’.

It was 45 minutes before I could say to her ‘I have to go now’. The only thing that made it possible to stand up and walk away was the knowledge that I wasn’t really walking away from Kye.

I made the mistake of looking back when I got to the door. The moment I saw her lying there, curled up asleep, I had to rush back to her. I was terrified to leave her because I knew that when I did, I’d never, ever see her again.

I got hold of myself quickly, I didn’t want to be there when she wasn’t warm any more so I said once more, ‘I really have to go now Kye Bear. I love you’ and then left the room.

I’ve spent the rest of the day thinking stupid things like ‘the last time I wore this coat, Kye was alive’ and ‘the last time I heard this song, Kye was alive’.

I don’t think it needs to ’sink in’ or ‘hit me’. It has hit me, like a articulated lorry. I can’t believe she’s gone and I’d give anything, ANYTHING, to have her back.

Sleep well my beautiful Princess, my Big Bear, my Kye.