It has been a sad couple of days in the Young household. We had to say goodbye to our faithful cat companion Bandola yesterday. We have had Bandola for 14 years – she was adopted from the Fredericton SPCA and at the time between 1 and 2 years old.  Bandola lived to be between 15 and 16 – a long, wonderful life, really – so it was not out of the blue and she had really slowed down over the last 4 months or so…but over the weekend things took a quick rapid turn for the worse and she stopped eating. I took her in to the vet in the am and her heart was basically failing her. Our vet also suspected a tumor in her rib cavity – it was very tight and “full”. Not many options for a senior citizen of her age.

After the exam and many tears in the vet clinic, we brought her back home to give everyone a chance to say goodbye – more tears – and with the thought being we would have her at home for a final sleep in our bed overnight. But she basically collapsed on us at home; trying to drink some water and almost falling into the water dish…then unable to drink and just laying down, resting her head on the edge of the dish. There she lay; still breathing, not seemingly distressed  but unable to move. It was painful to watch, so Steve, my husband and Fenja (8) took her back in to the vet clinic the same evening and she was put to sleep. I have cried so much I feel like I will dehydrate and become a paper tissue soon.
This cat – and her “sister” Cassis (14) who is still around, were both unconventional wedding gifts from Steve to me; groom’s Wedding gift to the bride. They were the First of our Young Family. She was appropriately named Bandola by us after the wine region Bandol, in southern France – where Steve and I honeymooned after getting married in 1997. (And as far as Cassis goes: Cassis is a tiny little fishing village near the same region, by the gorgeous Southern coastline of France). 

It’s heart wrenching to think back of the big life events we have shared with these cats. Bandola has been around for the birth of all three kids, has lived in every house we have owned together, has moved with us several times and basically across the entire country and rightfully held the title “Queen of the Household”. The kids don’t know a life without her – for them, she’s always been there. She was the one who really taught the kids what it means to respect and listen to an animal and how a cat says “That’s enough” – we could never have asked for a better teacher. She herself went from fearful, hissing, scared around people when we adopted her, to loving, loyal, seeking out attention and insisting on her daily cuddles and snuggles during the (sometimes) least convenient times. It is amazing what a big hole and void she leaves. Tiny and fragile little thing she was at the end, but a tiny thing who has taken up a big space in our home and huge space in our hearts.

Bandola will be missed and thought of often and with love. It has been a true blessing and honor to share these 14 years and be loved back by a cat like her.

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