My wife's favorite cat is dying.
This is more than just the death of a pet, but like a child or brother perishing, she has invested so much of herself into it.
Me, I'm so used to killing cats, I've become a feline grim reaper, sad at the experience, but bound to perform the ritual out of duty.
This is the second cat that has died on her -- or will die in a few minutes when I take it to the vet for extermination -- and so I know what to expect, the mourning that will take place, the loss of some part of her in the process, and the long, paintful grieving that will follow.
In some ways, this one will be worse because more than once she said this cat was the return of the first cat in spirit, and now this one has been taken from her as well.
The last cat died in midleap in the middle of the night when I happened to be awake due to an injured shoulder. I watch it jump and die in mid-air, and like a messenger of doom, I had to wake my wife to inform her of the loss.
Sometimes, I suspect she still holds the death against me, blaming the messager instead of the fates that brought it about.
Two nights ago -- while I was out late -- she came home to find the cat staggering in the bedroom, the apparent victim of a stroke. It recovered the next morning, but last night, when I was again out late, it took a significant turn for the worse. So this morning, I am bound to bring it to the vet where I fully believe I will need to put an end to its life.
My wife knew it, too, when I drove her to the path for work, lingering here for her last goodbyes even though it meant she would be late. She knows that when she comes home, the cat -- her special cat -- won't be here.