Lesson 21: “Sometimes we do everything right and we still lose.”

I’ve seen (and written about) way too much loss lately. This one is by far the worst for me, and I hope the last for a while.

I lost my baby Praline this weekend.

We went to the animal hospital Friday morning to meet the Oncologist about Praline’s most recent blood test results. It appeared she had lymphoma and we were going to have to start chemo to buy her as much time as possible. Remission is pretty common and I was very hopeful. But halfway through an unexpected blood transfusion 6 hours later, she started to fade away. I ran to her side, and her breathing got difficult. Around 6pm she went into full arrest, and soon after, as I held her lifeless body in my arms – I let her go.

Letting go of something you love.

How many more ways will I be forced to have to do that? And am I getting any better at it? Do I even WANT to get good at that?

As Praline’s health deteriorated this past week, my dear and wise friend Ann asked me to consider what I was meant to be learning from all of this. She suggested that it might have to do with control, or accepting that I have none.

Ever since I adopted Praline, I have done everything in my power to prevent what happened on Friday from happening.

The night before my roommate, Amruta and I were to bring Praline and Peanut home, we were told that Praline had been exposed to FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus). I had no idea what that was, but quickly learned that it would be a gamble to go ahead with the adoption. We decided to do it any way, and give her the chance she deserved for the best life possible.

“At least if she gets sick,” I reasoned, “she’ll have a great life for as long as she’s here.”

And did she ever! Praline was the happiest kitty and demonstrated her love and appreciation every night by doing somersaults down the hallway while loudly purring and marking my face. And she woke me up every morning with kisses. She loved me madly and I felt the same about her. I still do.

Whatever was needed to keep her healthy and out of harm’s way was what I was prepared to do. And I did it, happily. From finding an AMAZING integrated vet, Dr. Jennifer Gabriele (http://www.heartofchelsea.com) who gave me herbal supplements and antivirals, to leaving a toxic room-mate who created too much stress. I did whatever was best for my baby.

But still, I lost her.

Sometimes you can do everything right and still lose.

How much does that suck?

It’s true – thank you Criminal Minds [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzkej5XJc_A] – with everything. But it’s especially true when you love something the way I loved Praline. I guess that’s the big lesson in all of this. That in the end, you can do your best but you STILL have no control.

But I can tell you what else I’ve learned.

I’ve learned how much joy and love you can get from a small, soft creature. How Praline saved me and gave me love at a time when I needed it more than anything. That her little heart was so huge, that even with hardly any red blood cells left, and way too many cancerous white ones – after her breathing stopped, her heart kept beating.

That’s how strong it was.

I’ve also learned how much I appreciate the people in my life who understand that pets aren’t possessions. That they’re family, and worrying about them is agony. I haven’t slept in over a week.

I will miss you forever, my sweet Praline – and so will your baby sister, Peanut. She seems a little lost, sniffing and sleeping in all of your favorite places, as if she’s hoping to find you there.

Your love is still with us. I only hope you knew how much you were and still are adored in return.

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