Irises

I took the day off yesterday, which is good because yesterday was dumb. Iris had been ill for awhile and I decided enough was enough, and I made an appointment for a vet to come over and put her to sleep.

Naturally, she woke up having a good day. She actually got up off the bed in the morning, had her tail in the air, drank 80 tons of water from the water bowl. I’d been bringing water to her in bed. Water in bed. Like it was dehydrated Mother’s Day or something.

I encouraged her to come outside with us and she did! I thought, Oh, man, is it too soon?

By the time the vet got here, Iris was back in bed. Edsel had been glued to her all day, which is unlike him. Generally he’s glued to me.

The vet came in with an assistant, and she looked Iris over. “This cat is in pain. She’s high on the grimace scale.”

Apparently, you can tell how much pain a cat is in by the position of her ears, her little cat lips, and her whiskers. Iris had all those signs going on.

The vet opened a tin of treats that Iris wasn’t interested in. “They’re sheep lung. Cats usually go crazy for them,” said the vet.

SHEEEEEP lung? What in the anthrax. How revolting.

“Ah, now THIS cat is doing great on the grimace scale,” said the vet, and when I looked up from fussing over Iris, there was fat-ass Lily, her grimace-free face buried in sheep lung. “THIS cat is really happy.”

“My perfectly well cat does not need to be scarfing all the dead-cat treats,” I told the vet, who took the tin away and got out some high-powered catnip. The whole point of these shenanigans was to see if Iris responded at all, and she really did not. Lily, who wishes to become part owner of Sheep Lung Delectables, LLP, also did not respond to the catnip, which the vet had sprinkled ON her. But she did settle in next to Iris.

“Lily is having a calming influence on Iris,” noted the vet, who was asking me questions and taking notes. I guess I had to pass the is-she-off-able test. But sadly, we were passing it.

The vet explained everything that was going to happen, even though I knew because I’ve done this before. But it’s always good to be prepared, because sometimes pets have reactions that might upset you if you didn’t know they aren’t really conscious.

“OK, I’m ready to give the first injection when you are,” she said.

I’d already told Iris everything I needed to tell her before the vet got there. So I kissed her gray head and said I was ready. Iris’s. The vet had black hair.

If I didn’t love Lily before, this next part was amazing. When the vet gave Iris the shot, Lily reached out her paw and touched Iris on her back. She never left the bed through this whole procedure.

“Do you want to hold Iris for the next part?” asked the vet. I had been at the end of the bed, sitting in Edsel’s dog bed with him. I got on the bed and the vet gave me a pad and then placed Iris on it. We were waiting a bit for shot number two. The vet was examining Iris, and said Iris, in her opinion, was a lot sicker than we’d thought. She felt a mass in Iris’s stomach, and she also mentioned lymphoma, and she thought the mass might have been affecting Iris’s lungs. She didn’t like how Iris’s heart sounded, either.

I was just reacting to this news when

FLOOMP!

“I let the orange cat in. I hope that’s OK,” said the vet assistant.

It turns out? I have never given catnip to Milhous. And it turns out? Catnip makes Milhous act like John Belushi in his later days. He was ROLLING all over the area Iris had been, then LEAPING over the bottles and instruments and even his sister, Lily. It was then he noted Lily had catnip ON her, so it was about that time he began licking and rolling about Lily’s person, a thing Lily let him do because she’s Lily.

“It’s like he’s doing coke off a stripper,” I said.

“Does he often bring comic relief?” asked the vet.

“Milhous is the most hilarious cat I’ve ever had,” I told her, and mentioned the trash can riding and the pirate walks across the top of the fence.

“I think he came in on purpose,” said the vet. “I think he knew we needed to lighten the mood.”

Well, we certainly had. What an ASS that buff bastard of a cat is. He kept poking the vet in her nether regions, and eventually the assistant had to … gently remove Stoned Cold Steve Milhous and his high self.

Remind me to never get that cat any catnip. Ever.

Anyway, eventually the deed was done, and Iris had some rather gruesome reactions that further convinced the vet that she was really very ill. She knows my vet and is going to call him with her notes. I’m not mad at my vet about it and I still like him a lot.

Afterward, Ned came over to dig a hole. I told him not to look at Iris, whom I’d wrapped in a towel and put in a basket, but he did, and then he spent 10 minutes on my porch steps, sobbing. I tried not to be irritated by this, as I’d emphasized I needed stoic from him. Stoic. I needed more Milhous, fewer sobs. But Ned loved Iris, and she him, so I understood and found myself saying, “It’s OK. It’s OK that my cat is dead.”

It turns out, digging a hole is hard. I helped, but it was like when Prissy helped with Melanie had her baby. Whereas Ned came with muddy boots, I was out there in my Jessica Simpson bunny slippers.

I DID go to the store to get lime, because you’re supposed to put lime in the hole. I forget why.

Anyway, the deed is done, and I get irises from Chris and Lilly later in the week to plant where I buried her. C&L, too, had a rotten day, as they lost one of their horses yesterday. Lilly said that horse, Tex, was so used to winning things that any time he heard a voice over a speaker, he’d start to walk forward, because he just assumed he won.

As soon as Ned was done at my house, I sent him over to Chris and Lilly’s to dig THAT hole.

So, it’s done. And already Lily has walked into a room and I thought it was Iris. I imagine that will happen a lot. That was the only time I cried, was when that happened. I’m sure good, heroic Lily is delighted that her mom looks at her, is disappointed, and then cries.

So that’s the story of dumb yesterday.

I’m so glad I got to have an Iris in this life.

120 thoughts on “Irises

  1. The hardest part is knowing when. It sounds like the time was right. We will all miss hearing about Iris’ sightless adventures. RIP sweet kitty!

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  2. I’m so sorry about wonderful Iris. I feel so lucky to have been there the day you adopted her! Lots if love to you, Joon. Always, Ant Leesa.

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  3. I didn’t read the comments. I can’t. I am so sad about Iris. Even though it was time, it still sucks. I think that Edsel and Lilly were amazing. You’ve got good kids. And Milhous. That cat!

    Sending you peace and love.

    Lovely post, lovely June.

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  4. So sad, and so beautifully written. Sorry for your loss, June. You gave Iris a wonderful life.

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  5. You were such a great cat mom to Iris. She was well taken care of, and you needed each other. I loved to hear all the stories of her over the years. You gave her a great long life and she appreciated you.

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  6. I’m sorry for your loss of your beloved Iris kitty. It sounds like that vet was a Godsend — kind, compassionate, knowledgeable. Glad she was able to reassure you regarding Iris’s condition and that Ned helped you out.

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  7. I’m so sorry. This is a wonderful tribute. Rest in peace, Iris. Thank you for the joy you brought Joon, and thank you Joon for sharing.

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  8. This was a beautiful tribute to your sweet Iris. Thank you for letting us love her from afar. She feels like a part of my extended pet family,

    Mil is truly a middle child. Now with a nasty ‘nip habit.

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  9. So sorry about your Iris girl. I know how you feel. I am always so sad to say goodbye. But, there is also a sense of relief letting the little furry butts go, especially when they are so ill. You don’t have to worry about Iris anymore.
    Glad you took the day off.

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  10. What a sad day. I’m so sorry. I’m glad the vet was able to confirm your decision so you don’t have to second guess yourself. I hope that brings a measure of peace.

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  11. I’m glad that a truly horrid day had some light relief in the way of a lovely vet, a troop of troupers as far as the other pets present – Milhous the Jester included, and a good friend involved at the end. Doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be hard for you some more, but Iris really got lucky with you as her Mum. Thank you for sharing all her stories with us over the years.

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  12. That was such a beautifully written story – mixing together the sad and the sweet and the sacred and the silly. I’m sorry it’s a true story but what can you do.

    BeeBelle

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  13. I am so sad. Sometimes the cancer can grow really fast … that’s what happened to my dog that died in January. Hopefully the notes she gives your vet will help in future cases. Iris clearly was a stoic kitty cat.

    I kind of love all of your pets. Silly monkey Milhous and caring Lily and Edsel. And Forest being beautiful somewhere I guess.

    Thank you for writing this.

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  14. That made me cry. Sadness and sweetness all mixed together. So sweet that you had the lovely Iris in your life. So glad that you and Ned shared the funeral duties. Thinking of you June and pet family💓

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  15. Who would have thought Lily the Ornament would have provided comfort to Iris in her final moments. But our animals know when one of their own needs them.

    Sweet, pretty, murderous Iris. Now she can clearly see a whole new world.

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  16. Thank you for sharing Iris with us. She was beautiful and unique and I loved hearing about her. Stoically sorry for your loss over here.

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  17. We are all grateful to have had your Iris in our lives. The Vet sounds like a wonderful person.

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  18. I cried in my coffee this morning while reading your post. My heart is breaking for you & your furry tribe. Hugs to you all.

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  19. I have loved sweet Iris from afar all these years, and I thank you for sharing her with us.

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  20. Complete and total lack of stoicism here, sobbing, and snort laughing, while at work, on a conference call – not the best time to read the Book of June today. Sweet Iris, and Lily, and Edz, heartbroken.
    “Laughter with tears is my favorite emotion”, I’m so in agreement with my friend Dolly there.
    Thank you for sharing your life and your loves, it truly feels like we’re all one big family connected thru your June events and the rollicking lives of your pets. Your writing is a treat, thank you for non-blogging for all of us.

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  21. I’m not crying YOU’RE crying. Okay. I am. I’m so sorry but also thankful for the many confirmations you had and that you all were spared a more traumatic event. Thank you for sharing her with us.

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  22. Rest in peace, sweet Iris.

    Thank you for sharing the grimace scale. 927 cats into my life and this is the first I’d heard of it.

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    1. Well now I see that the grimace scale for cats is relatively new. Still so glad you shared. Thanks again.

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  23. I am SO GLAD the vet provided some reassurance that poor little Iris really was miserable. Eds and Lily being there for her broke my heart. And Milhous being, well, himself, was priceless. I love how some pets just seem to know what is needed in the moment.

    I had to take our teenage cat to the vet the other day because kept vomiting pink water (she’s not a vomiter, unlike one of the other cats who will barf for any old reason) and they gave her fluids and all kinds of other things, and a B-12 shot so I was thinking of Iris. This cat is so tiny they had to send her antibiotics prescription to a compounding pharmacy since the pills don’t come in a small enough dosage. That was super inexpensive and not at all a hassle. (SARCASM) (She’s going to be fine.)

    Thank you for sharing, you’re an excellent pet mom.

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  24. Sweet precious former killer Iris. I will miss her. Thank you for such a poignant post. I could not stop the tears falling. I hope you know how much restraint I have that I am not in my car dashing straight across the country to go stand in your doorway. I am sending lots of virtual hugs to you, Edsel and the kitties as you grieve.

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  25. So hard to let them go. Sweet Iris. You did it all right, June. So beautiful. Iris was blessed to have you.

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  26. Thinking of you and your furry family today. What a sweet collection of pets you have, and it was so wonderful that you were all able to be with her and that she had the comfort of home.

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  27. So, so well written, so poignant and sweet and funny and sad, and so kind of you to share with all of us, even though you might not have felt quite up to writing all this. You captured and preserved Iris’ last day perfectly. If there is a heaven for pets, it sure is nice to think of Iris feeling good and being able to see clearly. And if pets can reincarnate, I would guess that any of your pets would want to come back to be with you as quickly as possible.

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  28. I forgot to mention something. The vet from yesterday said that we were on our way to a catastrophic event. That Iris would have a respiratory emergency or a heart-related emergency soon. That would’ve been awful.

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    1. The vet confirmed what you already knew. It was time to end her suffering in a peaceful and loving way. Take comfort from knowing you didn’t wait too long.

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  29. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, but have always been to shy to comment, even if I think you’re such a fun, engaging writer.

    I’m so so sorry about Iris. It’s clear how much you loved her.

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  30. Thank you for filling us in. You even write brilliantly when in grief. I appreciate it. I’m so sorry.

    Sometime, if you’re ever up for it, I would like to hear more about the grimace issues and the other things the vet thought Iris had going on just by outward appearances and feeling around. I like to learn these things. I want to go back to last pictures of my cats and see if they are grimicing. I always worry about timing, too.

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    1. Beige—Google the grimace thing. That’s what I did afterward and it was helpful. I was so sort of out of it that I can’t recall a lot of what she said, and I can’t remember exactly about that except she said Iris’s ears were down or flat or something, and that her lips were puffy.

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  31. I’m so sorry for your loss. You gave Iris a good life and eased her out of pain. Your pets are lucky to have you.

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  32. I’m so glad she had a good morning and was able to get up and around, at least for a little bit. She was a good kitty and I’m glad she had you as her person. Rest easy, sweet Iris.

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  33. Tears for a little girl I didn’t know but loved just the same.
    I’m glad she had a good last day and Lily and Eds were there for both of you.
    Sweet Lily and her paw.
    Thank you for sharing her with us.
    If hugs were your thing I’d send a million but will send a whole lotta love to all of you instead.

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  34. I don’t think there is a right thing to say to you.
    Milhous the clown, love that guy and Ned.
    So many thoughtful things happened that made it better.
    You bring a lot of love to a room miss June.

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  35. Last night, as we were getting ready for bed, I told my husband that you had to put one of your cats to sleep and he immediately said, “Oh no, not Iris?”. This, from a man who can’t remember my name half the time, and who has not a minute to himself to do anything recently but work on his projects and do taxes so has not had any time to read the blog. I guess what I am saying is that Iris made an impression on many of us, and will long be remembered, even by those who never had the chance to meet her. May she rest easy.

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  36. You did the right thing, and those Irises will be a lovely reminder of her each season.♥️ And Lily is a gem.

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  37. Iris will be missed. You are a good cat mom for accepting that it was time. Sending positive thoughts.

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  38. I am so sorry. It’s so hard to lose our beloved pets. Iris was loved and she loved you. Thinking of you.

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  39. Sending a hug, from which you will struggle to get away, much like our cats when we hold them.

    Seriously, though, I’m hurting for you and with you. Your crew was lovely for Iris yesterday, and she had a great life with you. That bird-in-the-house story was one of your finest and funniest posts, and all because of Iris.

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  40. It’s so wonderful that you got to do this at home, where she is most comfortable. It’s so hard to make that decision and it seems like the vet was able to reaffirm that it was the right time.
    She was a wonderful cat and you have given her a great life.

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  41. There is always one that tugs on our heartstrings the hardest. Rest in peace beautiful Iris, your work on earth is done.

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  42. Oh Iris. Rest easy now.

    June, you are a wonderful person and any pet is lucky to have you. I hope you can rest easy and know you did the right thing for her.

    No, I’m not tearing up at all. Don’t look at me.

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  43. Thank you for writing this, it’s perfect. Like Kris in TN, I’ll think of sweet Eye-Riss whenever I see irises.

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  44. In case anyone is wondering, Forest knocked on the door to be let in and was APPALLED when the vet assistant opened the door. As a pandemic kitty, he is unused to other people and is ridiculously skittish around any human but me. Also, I adore it when people think the word is “skiddish.”

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    1. This helps to further say farewell to Iris. It’s good to have confirmed how ill she really was and that it was right to send her along. No more hurting for her.

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  45. I knew when I read the title and shed tears while reading your post. Edsel and Lily being supportive and the court jester providing comic relief were their way of saying goodbye to their friend. Sweet Iris had such a good life with you, how lucky you found each other. Thank you for sharing her with us. It’s comforting to know she had a good last morning with the sun on her face. Now she can hunt to her heart’s content.

    Condolences also to Chris and Lilly. How sad for them.

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  46. Lilly putting her comforting paw on Iris’ back just did me in. And Edsel hanging so tight to her.

    Millhouse, God bless him. Every multi-cat house needs a Millhouse.

    I’m so sorry, June. Just because it’s their time never means we’re ready for them to leave.

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  47. Thank you for writing this. Like Kris above, I’ll think of sweet Iris whenever I see irises.

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  48. You knew when it was Iris’s time, and you completed the circle of her life in the best and right way.
    What good memories of a life well lived you will have! Blessings to all who loved her.

    Reading this reminds me, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

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  49. I don’t even like cats, but I loved Iris. You gave her a good life, June. I’m standing in your doorway, and I’m sorry to say that I am crying a little. Just ignore me.

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  50. I am so sorry for your loss. Iris had a wonderful life with you and she loved you as much as you loved her.

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  51. So glad that sweet Iris passed surrounded by those who love her. You gave her such an incredible life. I know you will miss her so much; is it strange to say that I will too?
    Thinking of you.

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  52. I hope you are comforted by the knowledge that it was the right time. It is such a difficult decision, but it sounds like her last days were lovely, surrounded by those she loved.

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  53. You rescued that little wonky-eyed kitten and gave her a wonderful life. We got to go along for the ride. I cried yesterday, and now today. Not often for people, always for pets.

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  54. Sweet Iris had the best life with you, and in turn she helped give you the best life. Thank you for being the person who did want her and for sharing her with us.

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  55. Awww, so sorry to hear, but so happy you made the decision you did. What a lovely life she lived with you.

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  56. I am so so sorry but glad Mil was there with comic relief and Lilly was so supportive. It is so very hard.

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  57. I apologize for that exclamation point. Inappropriate! It’s like a damn involuntary reflex. I agree about having the peace of knowing you did the right thing. I refrained from suggesting Ned dig the hole but I’m glad he did. It feels right, someone who loved her did it. You are in my heart from a distance, sweet Lily, Eds, Milhous and what’s his gorgeous blackness name (brain fart) too.

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  58. Oof, I read it… twice. Bc I was weeping the first time and I couldn’t see (just like Iris). I’m glad you got to have an Iris, too, and that your shared all of her, all the way, with us.

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  59. What a beautiful life and passing you gave her. She is at peace. I believe that. You gave her a life most animals can only dream of. You won the human/pet lottery when you came together.

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  60. Sweet Iris, you have always been so special. June, thank you for sharing her with us these past years. How can I love a cat I’ve never met and served by a person I’ve never met. You gave her a wonderful life when you adopted her because no one else would, but you “were out of cats like being out of toothpaste.” She will always have a special place in so many hearts, but most of all your heart.
    Sobbing.
    Tee

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  61. Sweet baby Iris. The serial killer. She had a wonderful life with you and the gang. Thank you for sharing her with us.

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  62. Sending much love your way. Sweet Iris. She was so lucky to have had you in her life.
    -Trisha

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  63. Well I’m fucking sobbing. Iris was so lucky you saw her that day at the shelter and asked if everyone would want her and when they told you no one would want her, you wanted her even more. She was so lucky for that. I’m so sorry.

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  64. I would love to say something wonderful and comforting and helpful, but in your own inimitable way you had me laughing as hard as I was sobbing. You made ME feel OK that YOUR cat was dead. Now I’m NED goddamnit.

    This is how it should happen for every pet. For many of them, going TO the vet is scarier than what actually happens once they get there.

    Much love to you June and to the whole Gardens Family. Thank you for sharing Iris with us.

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  65. I’m so glad Iris had you in her life. Goodbye, sweet murderous kitty. You will be missed by many.

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      1. I apologize for that exclamation point. Inappropriate! It’s like a damn involuntary reflex. I agree about having the peace of knowing you did the right thing. I refrained from suggesting Ned dig the hole but I’m glad he did. It feels right, someone who loved her did it. You are in my heart from a distance, sweet Lily, Eds, Milhous and what’s his gorgeous blackness name (brain fart) too.

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  66. Awww, you’re breaking my heart. I’m laughing and tears are rolling down my cheeks. I’m glad I read this at home, and not at a work. Peace to your household!

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  67. That’s a crap day for sure. But you can tell what a loving household you have. Everyone did their part to make it a special moment.

    She was a wonderful cat and I’m so great full that you shared her with us.

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  68. Now I’m weeping. Not sobbing like Ned, but weeping. At work. You gave Iris her best life and dignified death. I know how hard it is and you did everything just right. Hugs to you, Chris and Lilly.

    sniff

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