Tag Archives: death

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2017 is heading in a bad direction.

2016 didn’t end much better.

For the pets in my family.

My sister was supposed to fly in for a visit in November, when her 6 year old cat suddenly crashed. The diagnosis turned out to be colon cancer. Oddly enough, this is what our grandmother died of. Weiwei died just a couple of weeks ago. Only six years old.

In December, my cousin began texting me that her dog (also around 6 I believe) had suddenly gone paralyzed. She took Coco to the neurologist, who ended up needing spinal surgery!…..a couple days after my cousin’s father was hospitalized for back surgery! But Coco (and her people!) recovered quickly and without incident 🙂

And now it’s my house’s turn. A couple of days after Christmas, my 15 year old pit started limping, and my whole being plummeted. I knew that it wasn’t an injury, and given her age, I was terrified with the alternative: cancer. It goes with her history in a way. Every time I’m prepared to take her in for a dental, she blows a leg. She’s had cruciate surgery in both knees already. I thought we were safe this time. But no. Front leg.

As I no longer work in a veterinary clinic, and as I recently moved to this area, I had to figure out how to find a veterinarian. That sucks. It really does. I do not like being on this end of things. The vet we went to took X-Rays, but wasn’t sure. I was able to have them emailed to me, and showed them to veterinarian colleagues, who both suspect cancer as well. I haven’t told my children yet, and she and I are going to another vet on Tuesday. Over a month on pain medicine, and her limp has increased. And I’m afraid.

suni taking a break

I’ve already been watching my eighteen year old cat like a hawk since last summer, when I was sure she’d go. Several masses sprouted up on her, and then they opened. She no longer looks like the picture below, which was only two years ago. Only two years! Seeing how much she’s changed is very disheartening. She no longer grooms herself, and has lost half her weight by the looks of this picture. I wasn’t prepared for that.

Masses on cats are bad. Talking my sister through things was very personal, as I was silently going through the same decisions with my own cat: when is it enough? When is it clear that their death is going to be a long time coming, and that their pain is only growing; when do we know to say that it’s time? I had it planned, her humane endpoint, but now I’m forced to rethink it, and make myself be a tech and not her person, and rely on what my intuition is trying to tell me. And so she has a vet appointment as well now. An ‘I don’t know what to do’ appointment. I sought out some familiar comfort by finding a cat’s-only clinic, even though it’s across the border in Illinois (it’s not that big a drive). How are there no cat clinics in Indiana? I so miss my Colorado people right now.

dec-2014-009

I have dealt with this in my career for the last 18 years, and yet to face it personally, all I can think is indecision. And fear. Lots of fear.

Conflicted

My father died.

Last week in a hospice while battling dementia.

I don’t know how I feel. I haven’t seen him in 13 years. I allowed him to see my son, newly born, but I refused to be in the room with him. It’s hard to state this: my father died: when you don’t really warrant the condolences. As I told my sister, we aren’t grieving like normal people. There’s a reason we barred him from our lives.

Still, there is a strange sort of grief. Maybe it’s settled in with anger and regret. Anger and regret, in our case, are conjoined twins. We regret that we were never given the father we’d wanted, the father we need as adults. Someone we trusted, someone we loved, someone who knew what it was to love back. I regret that my mother felt trapped in their marriage, and that he took his insecurities and resentment out on her and my older sister, and that, once finally free, my mom’s living her life alone and not the way she should be. I regret that my sisters and I did not have our father walking us down the aisle. Had we had a better role model, maybe he wouldn’t have, anyway. Maybe we wouldn’t have ended up just like our mom. I regret that my kids don’t know the concept of grandfather as I do. And I regret that I wasn’t allowed to say goodbye.

He died last week, but my mother wasn’t told until Sunday- emailed by my cousin while she was out of town. She caught up on her emails this morning, and tried to call me at work, but no one answered the phone. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to go. I left work in the afternoon and found a cryptic email on my phone: Call mom. My retort that I can’t be sent such a cryptic message with no further explanation was replied to with: Call mom.

I sat in a parking lot to call her, knowing it was bad and not wanting to be in the house around the boys when I was told what it was. Anticipated family drama of a different sort, not this.

I asked her a question after she’d told me everything, but I completely tuned out her answer. Shock? Regret. Anger.

I’d tried to contact him years ago, and it just didn’t go well. All I hoped for was an I’m sorry, but his reply was, I bought you things. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Everything was fine.

Until it wasn’t, and a piece of paper the size of a nickel  left on the floor would send him into a rage. Or a tiny sample tube of lipstick in the trash can.

I was going through photos with my mom a little bit ago, and came across one of this large chaulk board I’d had. Oh, I missed that. Where did it go? She got stiff. He broke it. What? How can I not remember that? I’d loved that thing. How can I not remember that? My sister took our old dining set with her when she got married. We pointed out to husband: That chair? He broke it. Threw it at our sister.

Out of his nine children, only my baby sister and one of his older daughters (yes, my sister) were at the funeral. And I regret that it was most likely due to older sister that we weren’t told in better time. I reached out to her, my sister, also years ago, desperately wanting to reconnect with them (one brother and four sisters who I either barely remember or never met), and her response to me left me crying for days.

My father died. Last week. How can you cry for someone you don’t love? Who’s been absent so long you don’t miss them? Who gave you a childhood you mostly blocked out? How can you tell people: my father died?

I’m angry. What a waste! You were given a good life, and you squandered it. You chose to destroy the spirit and trust of those around you, to be a tyrant in your wife and children’s eyes. My sister married at 19. I ran away- three states away- when I was 17. His other children just about never came by. And sis and I married men just like him.

I missed the wake, and missed the funeral. I want to go to the cemetery, and it was difficult to ask for tomorrow off. Bereavement?

Regret. No anger. Just regret.

My Dragon Cat

She’d been found with her three black kittens perched on an upper ledge of a business in downtown Denver. Somehow, a fellow intern had been alerted. She caught them and brought them to Alameda East, the hospital we’d just begun our tech internship at. It was Friday, and the day before Halloween. Her kittens were snatched so fast that l only saw one. There had to have been at least us 30 interns crammed in the kennels to see them- as if we’d never seen a kitten before.

No one was paying any attention to her, so I picked her up and just stood there, holding her while her fate was being debated. Her babies were old enough to leave her, and she seemed ready to have someone look after her for a change. She was maybe nine months old, which means she’d gotten pregnant at her very first heat, at six months old. She was still a kitten herself.

She laid there in my arms silent and fully at peace, her head over my elbow, her eyes closed, and her arm stretched lazily out over mine. I didn’t know she was mine right then, but she did.

The hospital administrator said she was not allowed to stay there but someone from Bel-Rea (our school) thought she’d be able to become a school cat, though not until the next week.

I didn’t want a second cat. I was 18, l’d just begun my three month unpaid internship, and I didn’t know how I’d feed and house myself or my other two Alameda East animals.

l was dating my now-ex-husband at the time, and he was (is) heavily superstitious. Toads give you warts, black cats are evil, etc. Did I mention the next day was Halloween? l said l’d take her until the school could and at three am, l took a bus to his apartment, got her settled and comfortable, and left her for him to find when he got home from his night shift. He called me immediately, of course. By the end of the weekend, I couldn’t give her to the school, so l took her to my home, and she became mine. Like she already knew she was.

That was fifteen years ago.

An hour ago, l held her at the vet’s office. She had her head on my elbow and her arm over mine, and she laid quiet and peaceful. This time, we both knew she would not come home with me.

When I got home last night, she was ataxic and wrong. I thought she’d had a stroke. l took her in, even though I already knew. Today, she couldn’t get to her feet at all.

Us techs always tell owners to be mindful of what they name their cats. Precious, Baby, Princess, Diva -we see these names and already know they are going to be cats from hell. Because they always are. At age eighteen, l felt too young to write my book, so I named her after my protagonist’s mother to remind me to keep writing. My protagonist’s mother was dragon raised. And this tiny little black nine month old cat was very quickly my dragon-cat. If anyone upset me, she was suddenly right there trying to beat the crap out of them. She’d break through screens if another cat came onto the yard. I wouldn’t see her for days. But I’d never see that other cat again.

She was the last of my three Alameda East pets, and l can’t believe they’re all gone. Where did fifteen years go? l sat with her and thought of my other two (God I miss them so), and all the ones between and after. I saw her through life and into death, and I like to imagine that our others were there to welcome her so that she wasn’t suddenly alone.

I didn’t bring her back home.