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Friday, March 30, 2012

The Loss of a Pet

The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.  ~Arthur Schopenhauer

My Dear Kitti,

It is hard to be the executioner of such a dear companion.  I know that if I take no action, I will wish that I had as your suffering pains me highlighting my personal selfishness; and I know that if I take the action to put you out of your pain, thus robbing myself of the closest of companions, I will blame myself and wonder if I did the right thing.  You see, there is no right answer when you are not God.  Did I make the decision too soon?  Did I make the decision not soon enough?  Should  I not make the decision at all and wait for the Lord to call you up despite what I have read about the pain involved with your particular cancer and seeing your struggles?  

Perhaps if you could talk this decision would be easier, my thoughts firmer and more sure. Still, cancer is cancer, and 18 is old for a cat, and I watch you grow weaker and struggle to use the bathroom, obviously uncomfortable if not in great pain.  You see, while we talk to each other, our main communication has not been verbal, but that easy and often silent companion-ability of friends. And I do not really know the extent of your suffering, only the change in your habits:  your withdrawal, your lack of interest in food, your shortness of breath, your growing weakness.    Do I thank you for your friendship and the deep comfort you have given me through the years by letting you go?  For I love you, my furry faced friend, and I would not want you to feel I have betrayed you.


Tears rob me of strength of purpose, and my eyes are red and swollen.  The kindness of the vet who cares for you is a blessing. He tells me your red cell count is down and the only treatment he could try might leave you blind.  Part of me is glad when my husband makes that decision:  we will not put you through that when the end is so near.  Still, I have a few more days, possibly a couple of weeks, at most a month.   You and I, my Kit, are friends to the end.  But why must the end be so damned hard and come so soon.  And how do I know that YOU know how very much I love and have loved you, the blessing you have been to me. I read a book once about a world where every soul was born with a companion animal that lived and died at the same time:  how much easier that would be.  But perhaps somewhere in the morass there is a lesson to be learned by loss, if only to take time to appreciate those whom you love and who love you while you can.  How often we don't appreciate the gift of love.

You came to us sick and covered with fleas, weaned too early, a mere puff of fur, barely alive, that fit in my palm. I still can see the children picking you out and hear the echo of your piteous mews.  My husband carried you inside his shirt to keep you warm as we worked to heal you.   Soon you were scampering through our home, climbing up the legs of his jeans to reach his shoulders, tearing up carpeting when you were forgotten during an exploration and the door was closed on you.  Always you wanted to be with family members. That was almost 19 years ago, that blessed day that you arrived to bring such joy and laughter into our lives, and yet it seems like yesterday.  Did I appreciate you enough?  And do you know?  Somehow I think you do. I always teased the children that you were the one I had who would not grow up and leave home, but you are leaving, albeit against your will, and my heart is ravaged.


Who will take over your duties?  You know you have never trusted me to use the bathroom or bathe without your supervision.  Who will make sure that I wash behind my ears?  Who will climb into bed at night on silken paws and cuddle with me?  Who will I tell all my silly thoughts to and who will lick my tears when I cry to myself at night when something or someone has hurt me?  How will I awaken on time in the morning without my furry alarm clock?  Who will stretch out beside on the living room floor wanting a belly rub?  Life will go on, but it will be emptier without you.  If only I was sure that you understand that I am grateful.  Despite the pain, I would dive right back in and do it over again if life worked that way.  But life does not go backward.


Memories:


Tiffany showing you at the 4H fair and winning.  "Queen of Scott County."
Your enjoyment of a ride around the house in a plastic grocery bag.
Tiffany taking you to school and your total lack of appreciation of this experience;-)
The time I was really ill with the flu and you would not leave my bedside, keeping watch for days, leaving only to eat and use the litter box.
The times when you comforted me when I was sad.
The time you bit my nose because you were jealous.
The times you made me laugh.
How you liked to ride about the house perched on my shoulder.
How you loved to be put under and upside down clothes basket and go after sticks poked under that edge.
How you would carry your banky ball through the house.
The time a mouse got in and you weren't sure what to do.
The time a lizard got in and you thoughtfully presented it to me in bed.
Seeing you sleeping on top of family members:  on their chests, laps, curled in their hair.
The way you seem to know what time I need to get up in the morning negating the need for an alarm clock.  
Watching the children bathing you.
The enjoyment you got out of putting up the Christmas Tree each year.
How you liked to hide under the couch cover during living room cleaning.
The time you got outside and were so scared. 
How dad would wind you up.
How you would chase Tar through the house and bat at Rocky when he came inside.
The feel of your paws as you walk on  me when you want me to wake up and serve you.
The warmth and comfort of your fur sliding through my fingers and across my palms silken soft.
The way you thought I could cook a turkey like nobody else can. 
How you would supervise when I was cleaning.
How you thought being under the blanket would keep you safe from the vacuum cleaner.
How you would hide your face against me when I would take you to the vet.


Good-bye my little purry friend. Sleep well.  You have earned your rest. With you another part of my children's childhood slips through my grasp leaving only the intangible comfort of memories and the  love we all shared.  


_________________________________________________

Kitti was laid to rest today, March 30, 2012,  after her urination ceased the night before and she refused to eat.   She was much loved and will be remembered by her family for years to come.  Good night, sweet Kitti.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Salem 65

Some of my favorite song lyrics from those songs of a misspent youth are those of John Prine's "Illegal Smile:"

"When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad
Seem like total silence was the only friend I had
Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down... and won
And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
That I was havin' .. no fun"

And that is how I have been feeling recently with the winter blues and a good dose of a cold and self pity.  Yes, an object that is at rest wants to stay at rest, and I have been an object, lazy, as slow as molasses in January.   It is hard to convince myself that I will feel better if I just get out and exercise despite the frigid weather.  It is hard to persuade myself that I want to do anything.  Only experience has taught me that I will actually feel better if I force myself out the door flipping off the winter weather. Only the urging of friends can crow bar me out of this deep, dark rut that I have come to rest in.  I suppose you can't get fit being a candy ass;-)

I am surprised and delighted to find quite a large group gathered for the Salem 65.  It is good to see  friends that I have not seen for awhile and exchange a few pleasantries. While the weather is not predicted to be challenging for this time it year, it is still February. It turns out there are 10 of us braving the cold and riding this hilly 65 mile course:  Steve Rice, Eric Graf, Mike Crawford, Lynn Roberts, Dick Rauh, Paul Battle, Bill Pustow, John Larson, Randy Davis, and me.

 Per Bill's log, the course has about 4,000 feet of climbing in those 65 miles.  Per my legs, he is not exaggerating.  It is not often anymore that my legs feel sore following a ride, and I know that despite the exercise and a good dose of ibuprofen before bed, my sleep will be restless, interrupted by anomalous twinges and aches.  I will wonder once again about why I allow myself to get so out of shape.   And yet ironically a strange part of me will glory in these aches as I know they signal new-found strength. I suppose that is the difference from other types of pain which I always find repugnant, this pain goes away and leaves me stronger:  there will be surcease.

And then there is the century the next day,  the one where I will tell the ride captain, Steve Rice, and Bill Pustow, that I am going to turn around at the store stop and am told in no uncertain terms told that I will not turn around.  The one where we pass a cow who has just given birth, the placenta still waiting to be completely expelled, bloody and colorful in the colorless world, yet somehow as beautiful as a flower.  The one that takes  me up and down hills beautiful in their desolation and lack of color while the wind buffets me like a rag doll, leaving my cheeks rosy and chapped. But suffice to say that I do not turn around and I survive.  And I grow stronger to prepare for the coming warmth. That is another story for another day.