Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I lived with my Aunt Laura and her family my first semester at UT Austin. I was so weird. What freshman would leave town to go to college and happily agree to stay with family? But I liked my Aunt a lot and looked up to her and partying wasn't really my thing, anyway. Plus, I guess I've always been cheap and I knew it would save money. I moved into the dorms the following semester and then an apartment my junior year. Being a cat person I just HAD to have a cat in my first apartment. First, there was Midnight. He was saved by my sister from her boyfriend's parents. They were tired of having a cat so they put Midnight into a pillow case and were planning to dump him on the highway. It turns out Midnight was really old and had feline diabetes. He was in a lot of pain and I had to have him euthanized after just a few short months. I mourned Midnight but comforted in the fact that I lavished him with love and affection before he died. 

Shortly after Midnight I visited the Humane Society that I had volunteered at the previous year. It wasn't kitten season so there were only two. They were the last of a litter that was rescued from a dumpster. I immediately wanted the black male but the female with white was more playful and full of personality. How could I possibly choose one and leave the other one behind? They were already named: Hardy and Serafina. I chose both. Amazingly adorable I fell in love with both of them immediately. They were detrimental to my schoolwork. Somewhere I have pictures of them laying across my textbooks when I was supposed to be studying.

Here they are teeny tiny in September 1995 and then again in December. They really chunked out! Hardy was 11 pounds and Sera 10 pounds at their heaviest.

Serafina was sweet sweet sweet. She and Hardy both loved attention. They were the kind of cats that stood on the armrest of the couch to get closer to someone standing up. She loved being brushed the most and was thrilled when I added cat brushing to Solana's responsibility chart. Sera sometimes got acne on her chin. It was like she had bits of dirt on her chin. It really was cute.

These cats were world travelers. They lived with me in Austin, Houston, Germany, (and then us in) Colorado Springs, Houston again, Denver, and finally Ohio. They provided us with entertainment, company, comfort, and companionship for many years.

They were 10 years old when Solana was born and a little apprehensive of her when she first started walking. It took a little effort to teach her soft touches but they always came back and gave her another chance. By the time we moved to Ohio she was turning four and they were the best of friends. Solana adored her cats and Sera especially adored her back. Here they are in our Xenia house. It would have been Spring 2009.

Sera was also really good at finding comfy places to sleep. Here she is with Chloe. January 2010.

Shortly after Hardy died we noticed Sera was getting very skinny. Our new Vet, my friend Linda, is a house call vet. I can't even begin to say how awesome it is to have a house call vet. She came over and ran a bunch of tests on Sera. She noted kidney problems, anemia, and dehydration. Sera weighed 6lbs 10oz. We wanted to get that up so we started feeding her canned KD food, added cooked chicken liver to her diet, and started subQ fluids. SubQ fluids are basically an IV but under the skin instead of in a vein. It's a quick way to add lots of hydration. She seemed ok for a while but then we noticed her peeing in the fireplace room and getting skinnier. She was quickly losing weight during Leticia's visit. Leticia's family was in town 3 days and Valerie's family arrived immediately after. Although she wasn't quite due we decided to give her more fluids the morning after Valerie arrived but she suddenly fell ill. We woke up in the morning and she was so weak she could hardly walk. Even though she had been booked with appointments all day Linda came over around dinnertime and said Sera's kidneys had completely failed; all the fluids in the world wouldn't hydrate her. She could potentially hang on a couple more days but she would be miserable so we decided to let her go. 

Linda was a gem. Solana asked her if Sera would be ok and Linda was perfect. She has a teenage daughter (our baby sitter) and knew just how to talk to Solana. She explained physiologically how the body stops working and that Sera's heart would soon stop and that her body was just too tired to keep living. She mentioned a book called, "Cat Heaven" and Solana remembered it from last Summer when we checked out every single Cynthia Rylant book from the library. Together they remembered parts of the book. Solana, "I remember there's a bridge and they get young again and can play and be happy like when they were kittens!" Linda: "Yes! That's it! And I think it would be wonderful for you to draw Sera a picture that she can take with her to remind her how much you love her and will miss her." I was a mess. There's no way I could have been so helpful to Solana. Linda will never know how special and important a role she played on that day. We discussed timing and, based on Linda's recommendation, decided that she would come back after Solana had gone to bed.

I let Solana have a full hour of TV before bed and Sera was happy to sit with her.

I got to hold her for a little while after Solana went to bed.

Putting Sera to sleep was not a difficult decision when I saw her stumble and unable to even hold own weight. But it was harder when I knew she was comforted by being held. It would have been cruel to keep her around any longer. I think that having Linda come to our house made the experience as peaceful and stress-free for Sera as possible and I'm so grateful for that. Linda explained every step of what she was doing and I got to hold and pet her until the end. She didn't feel pain. Linda first anesthetized her so that she just fell asleep at home with Dave and me by her side.

Dave and my brother-in-law, Joe, dug a hole earlier but Dave and I went out by ourselves to bury her. I'll never forget how hard it was to put her down or how peaceful she looked curled up in her final resting spot. Dave took her from my arms and set her down. I reached in to touch her fur a few last times. It was still perfect and soft. It was about 9pm. We crumbled hand-fulls of dirt over her for a long time and Dave finally filled the hole and set another tree stump on top just like Hardy's. It's difficult to say "good-bye" to a pet after 17 years. Or after 7 years, in Solana's case but we know she had a good life. She is missed and will always be loved.

 Angels Hardy and Sera. Signed by all the family members.

Angel Serafina


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. I know it's so hard to let them go, but the humane thing to do. I once cat sat for a friend (which was idiotic considering how allergic to cats I am)and had to give the kitty sub-Q fluids. It was really stressful! Hugs to you and the girls.

The Hillbergs said...

I'm crying!!! :( Its so awful to lose a friend - especially one that has been with you for so long. And its so hard to be there with them while they pass away. I'm so glad you got to hold her for that last night and for her to have the comfort and peace of love from her family. I'm so sorry and I hope you feel better soon.

A Goldsworthy Note said...

You're such a great Mommy to furry and non-furry types. We will ALWAYS remember precious Serafina. Hugs.

A Goldsworthy Note said...

You're such a great Mommy to furry and non-furry types. We will ALWAYS remember precious Serafina. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

(It's Berta) I'm totally crying as I read this... I remember Sera and Hardy, and am sad they are gone. :( I just had to put my own cat to sleep a couple of months ago and it still makes me cry. Pets give us such unconditional love! You are amazing with your kids and you handled it beautifully!

Emily and Troy Williams said...

I wanna be you when I grow up. You always seem to find, through yourself, books, or friends, the right tone for the moment.

I'm sorry that Sera and Hardy are both gone, but all of you have many precious memories.