Farewell, Sweet Dahlia

It took a lot of consultation between the vet and a very kind pathologist at IDEXX Labs to come to Dahlia’s diagnosis, “atypical large-cell lymphoma.” Considering that she hadn’t been responding to the steroids (which generally help cats with lymphoma) and that her lungs were still filling with fluid, and that the mass was getting larger, the vet didn’t hold out much hope. Honestly, neither did I. Dahlia hadn’t been enjoying life like she used to, she wouldn’t eat unless I helped her, and she always looked uncomfortable.

Dahlia basks in a sun puddle, Tuesday, April 3, 2012

This is the way I'll remember Dahlia: Basking in a sun puddle in our new home before her illness took her so savagely.

I knew I was going to have to do the humane thing and say goodbye to my sweet baby girl. I had planned to take her in today for her final appointment, but I didn’t have the chance.

Last night as I was cleaning Dahlia up in preparation for her passing, she took a dramatic turn for the worse — she was literally gasping for breath as she drowned in her own fluids. I knew what I had to do.

On Thursday, April 12, 2012, around 8 p.m. EST, the emergency clinic vet released Dahlia from her suffering. She passed into spirit wrapped in her favorite purple fleece blanket, held in my arms. It was a peaceful, tranquil and solemn moment.

Thomas and Dahlia: Snuggle buddies forever.

Thomas and Dahlia: Snuggle buddies forever.

I thank you so much for your kindness, generosity, love and prayers during this difficult time. Your support and good wishes have made it possible for me to emotionally and spiritually prepare myself for this.

I’ve closed the ChipIn because you all have contributed everything I need to pay for Dahlia’s previous treatment. As I promised, anything remaining after I pay the bills (I don’t know how much that will be; I’ll have to see the total reckoning in the Care Credit and MasterCard bills) will be donated to Forgotten Felines of Maine, a wonderful all-volunteer rescue group whose work takes them all over eastern Maine.

Dahlia and Siouxsie

Dahlia even won the heart of Siouxsie, the freezer queen. Dahlia (right) is laughing as Siouxsie gives her the stink-eye.

I couldn’t have asked for better and more compassionate care than Dahlia and I received at the Animal Emergency Clinic and from Dr. Sarah Noble and all the wonderful techs and staff at Portland Veterinary Specialists. I’d gladly recommend them to anyone in Maine who needs the kind of care these clinics provide.

Thomas, Dahlia and Siouxsie on my lap

Thomas, Dahlia, and Siouxsie in their favorite lounging positions.

If you feel inspired to make a donation in Dahlia’s honor, I’d love it if you sent one to:

Forgotten Felines of Maine
P.O. Box 264
Gouldsboro, ME 04607

Forgotten Felines, Inc. is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation dedicated to educating the public about free-roaming cats by providing literature and advice on caring for feral, stray, homeless and abandoned cats, assisting in humanely reducing cat overpopulation with TNR, providing access to spay/neuter services, and helping to place adoptable cats in loving homes. They’re an all-volunteer group whose work takes them all over eastern Maine, and they do this amazing work on a shoestring budget — as in, “funded by bake sales” shoestring budget — and they’re more than deserving of your support.

This song by Moby captures the way I feel now, and this video is filled with beautiful images. My heart is breaking, but my soul rejoices in the knowledge that my sweet baby girl is free from pain and suffering.

(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

I leave you with this, the final lines of the Buddhist Heart Sutra: Gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté, bodhi soha. Roughly translated, the Dalai Lama provides this interpretation: “go, go, go beyond, go thoroughly beyond, and establish yourself in enlightenment.”

That is my fondest wish for my beautiful Dahlia, and I know we’ll meet again someday if it’s meant to be.

  • Donna Arthurs

    Your Dahlia was lucky to have you for her mama. So many cats never have a happy day, and you saw to it that her entire life was happy and safe. She ended her life the way she lived it, safe in the arms of the one she loved most. Thank you for all did for Dahlia, and for all you do for all our four legged family members.

  • Rebecca

    Thank you for sharing Dahlia’s story with all of us, and for being the loving friend to felines that you are. Although Dahlia is gone, the world is still a better place for having known her, and for having you in it.

  • http://randomfelines.blogspot.com Random Felines

    We are so sorry….safe journey Dahlia. Every journey ends too soon, but we are better for traveling with such wonderful animals…..she was truly loved.

  • http://furrydancecats.blogspot.com Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz

    …to go, in love, is the greatest gift. I love the Heart Sutra lines and will remember them when honoring those who came before…

  • Kathy Carrasco

    Weeping with you, in grief. Thank you for writing this beautiful tribute to your lovely companion Dahlia.

  • http://nerissa-the-cats-life.blogspot.com/ Nerissa’s Life

    Often the kindest thing we can do is truly the hardest. I know you are suffering terribly right now but sweet little Dahlia isn’t. She will be in Heaven, at peace and in comfort. She’ll miss you as much as you miss her but there will be no pain. And that’s what is important, is it not. One day, in the distant future, you will meet again and there will be joy once more.

  • Laurie Mansfield

    Thank you so much for sharing Dahlia with us over the last weeks. My heart breaks for your loss and the tears flow, knowing how bad it hurts. Over the last 2 years, I’ve had to let 3 of my fur babies cross that rainbow bridge.I also lost my partner of 10 years on March 12th. So I know about loss. It makes me hold on tighter to the babies I still have. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Just know that you are a super mama for what you did. I know the words “you’ll see each other again” and “she’s in a better place” are said so much and, while they’re true, still don’t help heal a broken heart. The hole it leaves in your heart will heal, though. Fill it with extra love for Souixsie and Thomas. Extra special purrs and gentle head-boops to each of you in this time of suffering.

  • http://n/a Jody Vernay

    ….sharing in your sorrow….

  • http://www.glogirly.com/ Glogirly and Katie

    You and your kitties are in our thoughts.
    ((purrs)) Katie & Glogirly

  • http://orange susan krein

    So so sad. rip over the rainbow away from your suffering.
    Dahlia will always stay in our thoughts. Mine go to you now
    and I wish you courage. You did your utmost.

  • Aimee

    I am so sorry for your loss. Dahlia will be sorely missed. I’ve been there and nothing makes it easier. Just know you and Siouxsie and Thomas are in my heart and prayers.. and I’m sure Dahlia is watching over you to make sure you are all ok before she goes to her next life. ::Hugs::

    Aimee, Karma, Kismet, Sadari, Independence and Liberty

  • reader

    I was so looking forward to reading the rest of the Dahlia Chronicles. Your writing made her seem real even though I haven’t met her. I hope Dahlia rests in peace and the rest of your little family is well.

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/PoochandPuddy Amber @ Pooch & Puddy

    I saw your post today and said, “No…” Not Dahlia. Your writing of her made her seem so alive and young and vibrant. Remember her always that way.

    I always share this poem when someone blogs about the loss of a pet, after someone passed it to me when I lost my cat Kupo.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there; I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glints on snow,
    I am the sun on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circling flight.
    I am the soft star-shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there; I did not die.

    ~ Mary Elizabeth Frye

  • Dee

    Dahlia – always loved and never to be forgotten.

  • Becca

    I cried as I read this. Dahlia touched my heart, as have Thomas and Siouxsie. You all are in my thoughts.

  • http://www.sparklecat.com Sparkle

    I am so, so sorry. I will miss Dahlia’s lovely presence around the internet loads. :-( I am sending you gentle purrs and headbutts in hopes that they will, in some small way, help during this difficult time.

  • http://www.mysiamese.com Cheysuli and Bonnie

    Our thoughts. It is hard to lose a friend. Dahlia was very lucky to have had you in her life-

  • http://consciouscat.net Ingrid King

    What a beautiful tribute to your sweet Dahlia. My heart aches for you. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. Be gentle with yourself during this difficult time.

  • Kara Irwin

    My heart aches with yours
    I will miss Dahlia’s posts, more than you know.

  • Staal

    Gone, gone, altogether gone, altogether gone beyond this shore, enlightenment, so be it!

    This is Imee Ooi’s version of the Heart Sutra…with the full text and both sanskrit and English subtitles. I’ve silently whispered this mantra at the passing of several of my sweet babies as well. Peace to you, and to your beloved Dahlia.


  • Jessica

    :( I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It’s heart wrenching to read, as just about two years ago, we had to put down one of our cats, Tigger. He was 18 yrs old. He was suffering from kidney disease (thought to be brought on by his thyroid medications), and though we tried everything (including a water treatment twice a week), he wasn’t improving. He just sat in one spot, had to be helped downstairs to his box, refused to come up to our room like he always did. It was a tough decision to make, and it still hurts. So I can empathize with this, and wish healing thoughts to you and your family.

  • http://www.conservationcubclub.com Gracey, The Tiniest Tiger

    You are in our thoughts and prayers. We are so sorry for your loss of Dahlia. This post was, as Ingrid said, a beautiful tribute and we agree, please be gentle with yourself.

  • D.Chan

    I am so sorry to hear the loss of Dahlia. She is in a very beautiful and happy place..
    the Rainbow Bridge where we get to meet our pets some day. Now she is in the
    arms of God and enjoy eternal happiness and love.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Phyllis

    My heart goes out to you, but you gave her a good life. She will be wating for you at the Rainbow Bridge and the two of you will be together forever. God bless you for your kindness.

  • Anita Biers

    Just found out this moment, when reading about the declawed kitty and from the comments made from the other kitties that Dahlia must have passed, so I scrawled down and read the previous article. So sorry. I know when these difficult problems occur that there are choices that need to be made. I am so glad her mamma got the monetary help she needed. I work with a colony of abandoned cats (many are tame) and we’ve lost so many old ones lately. One little calico (who was quite feisty in her day) had tumours all through her stomach. I had her in the house for two days and let her have the run of it the last day. When I came home I saw she had thrown up a lot of food. I knew she still wanted to eat and was worried that if I did not have her euthanized that her stomach would burst while I was at work and she would be in severe pain. I was criticized by a few for this early action but I was with her the whole time and knew I was sparing her what might have been a horrendous end (not accounting for it would have been a weekend and difficult to find a vet open). I know she is over that rainbow bridge just like Dahlia and is healthy and well again. And we will see them again someday.

  • chirpycat

    I am so sorry for the loss of your precious Dahlia ( a lovely name). I had to make that decision w/ two of my babies, Cosmo in ’05 after sudden blood clot resulting in paralyzingly of body from behind shoulders on back. The look I his eyes as he cried to me for answers & help I will never forget.
    Secondly I had to put to sleep, my beloved Frances in ’09… she got suck on a Sun. and diagnosed w/ gastro cancer. By Thurs morn we went to the vet where I held her during her last breath. Profound experience to say the least. A year earlier I lost Jackson (a girl), my first cat, from unknown cause.
    Devastating losses. I pray you will make it through and always remember the great things Dahlia added to your life. Bless you. xxxx

  • Sally DiPiazza

    I experienced your pain recently with the loss of my 19 year old family member, Tennessee – we miss him everyday but are comforted that he is not in pain and is running free once again-

  • Catherine Murdoch

    I am more sorry than words can express to hear of the loss of your beloved Dahlia, Losing a much-loved feline companion can be so devasting – I’ve been through it myself. I and my kitties send you our most sincere sympathy and we grieve with you for your loss.

  • http://thecatsite.com Anne from TheCatSite.com

    My condolences. I’ve lost a cat to cancer too – I share your pain.

  • http://www.write4unj.com Nancy Passow

    Charley and I send {{{hugs}}}, purrs, and skritches. We will miss Dahlia’s stories, but know that she will be waiting over the Rainbow Bridge.

  • Amy Kafkaloff

    I started crying when I saw and read about Dahlia. I have had cats my entire life, and also have lost a beloved cat(s). I am sorry for the loss of your dear and beloved cat. I and my cats Felix and Stella send our love. ;-)

  • mannequin

    I’m so sorry…. for little Dahlia’s passing and for your hurt. I’ve had to do that so many times , and each time it’s just as heartbreaking. To give a love when you know that someday your heart will be broken, is the greatest kind of love. In the end, human or feline or whatever, compassion and love is what we need and you gave that to the very end. I’m so sorry, my heart breaks for all that loved her but am glad she was given compassion in her pain.

  • karenfornisano

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you at this time of grief. I know how hard it is to lose one. They become so much more than a mere dog or cat, they are your family, they love and accept you no matter what and that is true love. All they ask in return is to be loved and cared for. God bless you and Dahlia, she is watching over you and her brothers and sisters, never gone as long as she remains in your heart and thoughts.

  • The Paws and Effect Gang

    Please know that we are reading every comment here, and we’re profoundly touched by your love, sympathy and compassion. Mama just hasn’t had the energy to respond to every single comment, so we apologize if we’re coming across as rude by not replying to you. Every single word every single one of you has written over the last couple of weeks has been a balm on three sore and sad hearts. We love you all. Head-rubs and tail-hugs all around!

  • http://www.romeothecat.com RomeotheCat

    Nose taps and paw hugs! xoxo

  • Dee

    Dear Dahlia – I was thinking of you today. What a precious soul you are. I wonder if you realize how many lives you have touched? And then I thought, hey, we’re talking about Dahlia here, of COURSE she knows. Send your Mama a happy dream and don’t forget to visit Thomas and Sioxusie too!

  • Wendi

    So sorry for your loss, have been there numerous times. You did a very selfless act in helping Dahlia to the rainbow bridge, where she will wait for you. Far too often, wellmeaning owners will attempt all sorts of treatment to avoid euthanasia, prolonging a beloved pets suffering.
    A very kind hearted, intelligent vet once said to my and my brother, as we sat tearfully holding Tigger, our 17 year old fur brother, contemplating removal of a bone in his cheek and chemo to fight any remaining cancer- Who are you doing this for? I know you love him but he is in pain. It is with the love that you have for him that you should do the correct thing for him.” We had Tigger put down that afternoon and I thought, after the docs words, that to make him go on suffering would have been so selfish. Yes, it would have kept our grief at bay for a bit but Tigger, who had brought us so much joy and love while we grew up together, needs should come first.

    Prayers and best wishes go out to you and your family.

  • Harold Drabkin

    So sorry for your loss.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yasorusproductions yornma

    I am so sorry about Dahlia.. I followed the link from the posting about Bobette and read about Dahlia.. the poor strong baby. No animal should have to suffer like that and I am glad you made the choice to not continue her suffering no matter how hard it was and that you were there with her in the final moments.

    I’m sure she’s living a happy painfree life and keeping an eye on you from heaven.


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  • Amanda

    I wish my cats final moments had been so relaxing, the first lot of chemicals they used to put him to sleep made him spasm and look weird. I had to hand him over cos I couldn’t bear looking at this process, so I didn’t get to see him pass away. He had terrible cancer that took his poor liver and heart over within weeks. He is on Catster and his name is Alamo Schmo.

    Your Dahlia certainly looked soulful and beautiful.

  • priya

    Still remembering sweet Dahlia x