What do you have to teach me? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Once I thought you did – you seemed so sophisticated and knowledgeable, but those were simply projections of the person you wished you could be. Inside you resides only a quivering emptiness. Every attempt to reach outside of yourself slowly sinks into the abyss, becoming forever lost within the caverns of what could have once been.
Now it is obvious it was never meant to be, and the time has come to move on. If only I could throw this endless, undying desire to be loved back in your face as you vacantly stare through me, always searching for your own reflection. I wish just once you could see only me. But even now, as I walk away, the only reflection mirrored in your eyes is yourself.
I’ve been dreading this for years. I knew when I chose to have so many cats that I would someday likely have to make a decision about whether to artificially extend one of your lives or try to save you from enduring unnecessary pain. Even so, when the decision had to be made, it was no easier, even though I had said for years that I would rather have to put one of you down than to see you suffer needlessly. This is the first time I have had such power over the life or death of a loved one and I hope it will be the last, although I know it probably won’t.
To be honest, you have been kind of a pain in the butt for most of your life. As a kitten you were a holy terror who had amazing powers of destruction. As an adult, you were a grumpy, angry cat who would often give a warning bite when petted the wrong way (pretty much anywhere but around the head). You were fun to tease because your reaction would be over the top within seconds. All I had to do was walk within a couple feet of you and you would start growling in annoyance. You were definitely the alpha male in this house and constantly reminded us of that fact. You reminded everyone of a regal lion, both in dignity and in your attitude of entitlement.
As we sat in the veterinary emergency room, making a decision about your fate, one of the vet techs came in and told us what a sweetheart you were. We laughed and said “she really doesn’t know you well, does she?” The fact that anyone would think that, told us how very sick you were. To be seen as cooperative and mellow just wasn’t in your nature. As I looked into your sad, blank face with tears running down my own cheeks, I knew I had to let you go. If we fought to keep you alive, you would have been miserable. I know you would have hated the long hospitalization, frequent medical procedures and forced medication.
Even had we went ahead with the treatment, the vet was blunt about the fact that you had six months at most to live and even that was highly unlikely. He told us the cost of treatment in dollars and that was certainly something that would have been a struggle for us, but the true cost to us was the misery we knew we would have to put you through just to keep you with us a bit longer. In good conscience, I couldn’t do that to you, because regardless of how mean and grumpy you could be, I love you with all my heart.
I admire your straightforward, take-no-crap attitude and the fact that you were never afraid to be yourself and stare any enemy down. I admire your intelligence…Einstein was definitely a fitting name for you. I loved the precious moments when you would be uncharacteristically loving and sweet (mostly when you were sucking up or asking for something). I think of you every time I open the door and you aren’t there trying to sneak out. It is these things, these precious memories that I will carry with me now that you are gone. I love you and miss you. Goodbye, my sweet Steiner.
Saying goodbye seems to accompany the foster care lifestyle. Sometimes the goodbye is bittersweet because the child is being adopted, or gets to return home. In those cases, you still worry about their future, but you are happy that they will hopefully have a chance at a more stable life. Sometimes we still get to stay in touch with these children if they live here in Dayton, which can make the adjustment a little easier, since we can see for ourselves that they are doing ok.
What is more heartbreaking is when the parting is not happy in any way. These are the children who you request to be removed because you don’t feel that you can handle the severity of their problems, or because you fear they pose a safety risk to yourself or others in your home. I have had this happen more than once in my foster care experience and each time it tends to leave a scar…
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This has been a rough week at our house. Due to some unfortunate circumstances we have been forced to request that one of our foster children be removed. Needless to say, the tension has been riding high. Tempers are flaring and all of us have probably just about had it with the situation. Unfortunately, since foster parents are supposed to give a 30 day notice before a child is removed from their home, we will have to find some way to survive and try to get along peacefully for the next 4 weeks.
The sad thing is that we really do care about the kid. This child has a lot of potential if they would only find their way onto the right path. We have tried everything we know to help, but if help isn’t wanted there isn’t much to be done. It grieves my heart and makes me wish that I held the power to really make a difference in this case. Saying goodbye, especially an unpleasant goodbye, has to be one of the hardest parts of foster care.