The only reoccurring childhood nightmare I ever had was about cats taking over the world. I would wake up, get out of bed and act out a new ending where I befriended the enemy cats by feeding them milk and saved the day. For most of my life, being around cats caused me to sneeze, itch and made my eyes water.
I really liked Dale. He had two cats, so I decided it was time to make my peace with them. Binx was easy. He was shy and hid whenever I arrived at Dale’s house.
Buzz was another entity entirely. A black-and-white tortoise shell, he would coax me in, acting as if he was ready to be my closest buddy for all time. The next moment, in the midst of my innocent petting, he would suddenly hiss. I’d jump back, heart racing and commit to never trying to be his friend again.
This cycle repeated until a life-death crisis occurred. Dale and I returned to his house to discover Buzz lying half-dead in a pool of blood. We rushed him to the vet who told us Buzz was in rough shape and would likely not make it.
While in the veterinary hospital, we learned that Buzz had a cell mast tumor that was inoperable. The tumor would swell and create histamines that caused his stomach to bleed and resulted in his vomiting blood. Even when he improved and was able to return home, his condition was precarious. Having been so close to losing Buzz made me realize how much I’d grown to love the little crabby bugger! I don’t know what it was that caused him to see me differently, but from that time onward Buzz loved me, too.
Over the next two years, Buzz miraculously survived two more of these near-death episodes. Dale and I knew that Buzz’s tumor would eventually lead to his death, but we hoped to have many more good years with him.
It was Sunday, October 3, one week before our greatly anticipated wedding. As we were preparing for bed that evening, Buzz suddenly began to howl in that familiar way that signaled he was in pain and big trouble. I assumed we’d bring him to the emergency vet like we’d done three times before. They’d treat him, and we’d bring him home. But Dale knew otherwise.
Dale and Buzz were dear buddies. The love bond between them was palpable. Dale understood it was Buzz’s time to go.
This was completely unacceptable to me. As far as I was concerned, there was no way that God would allow Buzz to die the week of our wedding. We would take Buzz to the vet, and he would rally as he had before.
Dale’s certainty finally broke through to me. There was calmness in his knowing that this was simply Buzz’s time to go.
After a sleepless night of crying and comforting Buzz and each other, Dale went into work to let his employer know he had to return home as quickly as possible. Five minutes after Dale returned home, Buzz left his physical body.
We were both devastated. At that moment, I was so overcome with grief and anger that I didn’t even care about our wedding. I imagined walking down the aisle with a red-blotched face as the photographer and videographer captured the event. I didn’t even care what I looked like. Nothing else mattered.
After the initial shock wore off, I accepted that the timing of Buzz’s death was somehow necessary. But why? Why did Buzz have to die six days before our wedding? I continued to pose the question inwardly until I received the answer: Jack (who had been my beloved dog for 12 years and had passed four months earlier) and Buzz had fulfilled their missions with us. They had come into our lives to offer love and companionship until Dale and I found each other. Our wedding was the beginning of a new cycle. Jack and Buzz needed to begin their own new cycles and adventures elsewhere. They had finished what they came here to do.
Buzz stayed as long as he possibly could while giving us time to recover before our wedding. The day after he died, my sister arrived from out-of-town and our focus re-shifted to looking forward to our wedding and the celebration of our love and commitment.
Although my heart still ached, I was overwhelmed with gratitude: for this incredible man I’d finally found and was going to marry; for our many friends and family arriving to help us celebrate; and for these amazing souls in animal bodies who touched our lives in ways words can’t express. They were leaving us in great hands!