Losing a pet feels (I imagine) like being hit by a bus. But losing one so suddenly, with no time to prepare yourself for the grief… the sadness is so overwhelming, so intense that it’s literally breathtaking, in the bad definition of that word.
On Saturday, Kramer was his normal, weird, goofy self. When I woke up Sunday, something seemed off about him. He didn’t seem to be in pain, he was just acting kind of odd. I thought maybe he’d eaten something in the garden that had given him a stomachache, so I didn’t worry too much. But on Sunday night when he couldn’t stand up, I rushed him to the emergency room.
They kept him overnight, and the next morning I learned the diagnosis: not just cancer, but advanced, end-stage cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes and lungs. Even though he’d just been at the vet for a checkup the week before, there had been no sign that he was sick. There were some slightly strange results in his bloodwork, but nothing I was told to worry about. We’d re-check it in three weeks. But we never got that far.
After I got the diagnosis, I talked to the emergency room vet, then our family vet, and they gave me the same advice. Ease his pain and give him a humane ending, rather than putting him through chemotherapy that would probably prolong his suffering and only give him a few more months. And so the next day, I sat on the floor with his head in my lap as he gently passed away.
I don’t know what to say, or what to do to console myself. There isn’t anything, really. The passage of time will mean that I’ll remember the pain less often, but all my happy memories of this goofy, playful boy are now also tied to the memories of how quickly, how unfairly his life was cut too short.
It hurts to even think about him right now. Even the good times, and the ways he’d make everyone laugh. He was such a weird, funny dude. When I was at home, Kramer never left my side.
In 2014 I adopted Kramer from my friend Charlie, the same friend who had given me Maggie eight years earlier. He was four years old at the time, and it’s hard to believe that at that point he’d lived half his life.
Soon after I brought him home, I realized his name fit him very well. Kramer was happy, excitable, nervous, and a bit manic, but he was always full of love for the people around him.
I was never quite fast enough to keep up with him, and he and Maggie had a few disagreements over the years. But he became a part of the family, and he made me so happy. I think the feeling was mutual.
For as long as I live in this home, the house I was building when I got Kramer, every corner of every room, ever slope of the garden will remind me of him. With time, I think—I hope—these will become happy memories.
Kramer, I don’t know how to get over you, bud. I can’t imagine what it will be like, but I’ll never forget you.