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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

Samhain

I was invited to Samhain tonight (pronounced SOW-in), which is a Pagan sabbat (festival? ritual? celebration? remembrance? event?!?) that marks the end of the year and celebrates the harvest.  Apparently it also has to do with healing, which is why I was invited.  I could definitely use some healing.

No clue what it’s going to be like.  No clue what I’m going to think of it or what’s going to happen.

Expect a follow-up post in a day or two.  (If I can remember to get it out of the way before NaNoWriMo starts!)

RIP Gumby

Gumby was my little puppy cat.  He played fetch with me, followed me from room to room, and came when I called him.  He slept every night curled up in my arms, but he never wanted to be picked up, or for that matter even held on a lap.  I can’t tell you how many times I snuggled my face into his furry little back at night…

He had prominent teeth that looked like fangs and long claws that, even when I trimmed them back, would click on the kitchen floor like a velociraptor.  Oh, he looked vicious.  And to some people, he was!  (Sorry, Aubrey…)  But then when he opened his mouth, out would come the tiniest, high-pitched little baby kitty meow.  So unexpected!  So endearing!  So frikkin hilarious!  LOL

We brought him home almost exactly nine years ago – it was the second Friday in October and he was eight weeks old.  Eric and I had decided (even though we weren’t allowed to have pets in the school’s apartments) that we were going to go adopt a cat from the shelter.  But we had no idea how much that was going to cost us!  So we headed to the pet store to price all the accouterments needed, and lo and behold, they had a litter of kitties there.  I actually wanted to get one of Gumby’s sisters; she was a tuxedo kitty and I gotta tell you, I’ve always loved them.  But Eric thought Gumby had more personality, and that a male would be more loving in the long run.  Loving he was, for sure – at least to me!  He was the only thing I asked for in the divorce, in fact.  I even gave that man the kitchen table and couch that I adored, without one word of protest.  But I got the cat.

I learned about Gumby’s heart problems early; at his one-year checkup the vet told me that he had a “significant heart murmur.”  That scared the tar out of me!  But then she explained that cats and dogs often do have heart murmurs, and they don’t necessarily denote any actual health problem.  *sigh of relief*

The relief lasted till last fall, when he had what I thought were a couple of seizures.  Turns out they were the result of a heart problem – he would overexert and then he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.  Scary as hell, I gotta tell you (especially since we’re talking about the closest thing I’m ever going to have to a son!) but they got him on some meds that helped.  Yup, the little brat got to have pills stuffed down his throat three times a day.  And you know?  He was actually pretty good about it.  He never ran away from me, and in fact often came running to me when I rattled his pill container.  How many animals do you know will do that when it’s pill time?

So things went well for several months.  Bratty cat got pills, and I wondered when the other shoe was going to drop.  Because, after all, he’s only going to last so long, right?  It could be several years, or it could only be a couple months.  I had no idea.  But after a while it became old hat.  A new normal.

Then in the spring we had a couple scares.  The first time, I noticed he was getting round.  And we’re talking about a cat that I fondly described as crackhead-cat-thin.  At first I just thought he was eating more.  I was giving him treats with his pills and I’d just changed to larger ones.  So I figured that three large treats a day (for a little bugger like him) could very well make a difference.  I started cutting the treats in half, but he still got thicker.  Then one day (a couple weeks in) I felt his not-so-little belly.  He felt like a balloon!  I palpated his pudgy-for-real “sister” Princess and felt standard pudge under her fur.  So I rushed my little boy off to the vet and (lo and behold) they had to take 650mL of fluid out that had accumulated in his belly.

That is WELL OVER HALF A LITER!!  Holy crapola, people!  No wonder he felt like a little balloon!  We upped his meds to get the fluid out more efficiently, which worked for a while.  But then a month or so later I saw that he was walking stiffly, like his back legs weren’t working right.  I felt him and they were cold!  Back to the vet, where they rushed him into the kitty ICU, which is an incubator.  (Who knew?)

Dr. Little (the owner) was working that day, and he got the immense joy of getting bitten by my little darling…  Yeah, they’re going to be on my Christmas goodie list this year, they more than deserve it!  At any rate, Dr. Little had just been to a seminar where they were discussing the use of a new drug in cats with heart disease, and he wanted to try it with Gumby.  It was spendy, but DAMN it worked!  Totally worth it.  I’m out of work, pinching pennies, living off my credit cards, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t spend the money on those pills every month, without hesitation.

At that second emergency visit Dr. Little said Gumby probably only had 2 or 3 months to live.  He said maybe six, but certainly not a year.  Well, he made it the six all right.  But I came home from class this Wednesday and found that he wasn’t moving much.  His breathing was a bit more labored than usual (it’d gotten more so over the past year since his diagnosis) but I decided not to take him in, since it was steady and regular.  But I canceled my plans and stayed home that night.

The next couple of days I watched as his condition stayed the same – or at least it seemed that way.  I got home Thursday night late after work and found him stretched out on the bed.  Looking back I think he was having trouble breathing and that was a more comfortable position for him.  I lay crosswise on the bed so I could snuggle with him, not knowing what to do but feeling that he wanted the comfort.  I certainly did.  At about 5am I roused up and he seemed stable, so I got into bed the normal way so I could get some sleep.  When I woke up he was in the living room, which I thought was a good sign – hey look, he’s getting up and moving!  He must be feeling better, right?  Not so much.

I was in the kitchen doing the dishes when I heard him cry out.  Have you ever heard a cat crying?  It’s awful.  Cuts right to the bone, you know?  Especially when it’s one you raised from a tiny little fluffball, one you taught to play games and you held at night, one you nursed through a couple of awful scares already.  Even when you know you’re living on borrowed time, and that the clock is about to stop ticking , it’s still awful to see the train coming at you.

That’s how I felt at that moment.  I knew he was about to go, and I knew the best thing at that point was to let him.  He was so scared when he went to the vet’s office, I didn’t want to take him to a strange, cold, scary place to die.  I wanted his last moments to be in his home, where at least he was comfortable and felt secure.  But you know, that’s easier said than done.

Have you ever actually watched a living thing die?  It’s horrible.  He was scared and he was in pain and he didn’t know what was wrong; he just kept crying like he wanted it to stop.  And I told him it would, and I petted him and told him (and myself) that it was all going to be over soon.  But it didn’t happen soon enough, and I was weak.  I couldn’t just watch it happen, watch the pain get worse and us not able to actually communicate with each other beyond emotion and physical sensation.  You know, you can’t explain anything to a cat (obviously); you can’t talk to him about passing, you can’t work through his feelings so he understands his own mortality and can be ready to leave.  You can’t tell him that the pain is only going to be here for a little while, and it’ll all be over soon.  You can only try to ease his physical pain, which I had no way to do.  So I wrapped him in a towel and put him in the carrier and took him to the vet’s office.

They rushed him into that damned ICU that scared him so badly before, but within half an hour he was gone.  I don’t know if taking him in eased his passing.  I really don’t.  I know it eased my feelings of helplessness at the moment, but it hasn’t done a thing for my feelings of guilt since then.  Should I have taken him in sooner?  At what point do you admit defeat, stop forcing the medication on the animal, and have him put down?  At what point does the pain suffered override the value of life?

All I know at this point is that we had six months together – six months for me to love him and for him to love me back; six months to give him the best life I could; six months in which he slowly faded from the playful devil I raised to a grumpy, tired little man-cat.  He still played a little at the end, but not much and not often, and not for very long.  He didn’t have the stamina.  And the last few weeks, he didn’t come to me when I called him, either.  He stayed under the bed, coming out when he felt like it and otherwise hiding.

I look back and I feel pretty sure that I did the best I could at the time.  I can see things that hindsight makes me wish I’d done differently, but that’s the way it always is.  I guess overall I’m just happy I had nine years (to the day, almost) with my little shadow cat.  There’s not much else I can do at this point, is there?

Healing, perhaps

I guess it’s more than perhaps, it’s more like “apparently.”

Five years, seven months, three days, one hour, and forty-nine minutes ago, the first man I truly adored was killed.  He’d come into my lonely, desperate, incomplete life, and he filled all the empty spaces that bothered me.

Then suddenly he was gone.

Being the type of person I am, I of course pulled myself up by the bootstraps and went on with life.  *sigh*  I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know how to grieve.  I don’t know how to lose.  I don’t know how to be hurt.  I just have no idea how to do any of that.  My default reaction is to take a deep breath, consider all the good things that still exist in my life, and move the hell on.

End of story.

After all, no matter what happens in my life, no matter how awful things seem, at least I’m still breathing, right?  At least I still have my health, and my sanity (or as much of it as I ever had!), and my ability to support myself, and my loving and wonderful family and friends.  So why should I dwell on what I’ve lost?  Why should I live in the past?  Why should I cling to something or someone that’s gone?

Unfortunately, my analytic mental processes don’t actually control everything that goes on inside.  So of course, recovering from The Loss Of My Entire Life was not (shall we say) a quick or easy process.  In fact, it’s still not finished.  Not even close.

But a few weeks ago I turned a corner, and tonight I turned another one.  (Does that mean I’m headed back the way I came?  *shudder*)

I spent 28 years wishing for someone who would make me feel wanted, and loved, and worthy, and wonderful.   I didn’t have him for very long, but he was instrumental in building me up to the (apparently) confident person I am today.

I’ve spent the past 5 years knowing that I’ll never find another person like him, and I’ve been not only grieving his loss, but the loss of that love and the loss of the way the love made me feel and the hope that I’d ever feel that loved again.

Oooh, there it is.  There’s the first epiphany.  I finally came to see that what I miss most about Mike Lucas is the way I felt when we were together.  Maya Angelou said it best, you know.  I will always remember the way he made me feel.  And I know I’m not the only one – anytime he walked into a room, the whole place would light up.  Everybody knew him, everybody loved him, everybody wanted to be around him.  He was just that kind of person.  Can you blame me for wanting to feel that again?

So a few weeks ago I realized that, and I realized that – wait for it – there might be someone, somewhere out there, who someday might make me feel that good again.  Who might make me feel that wanted again.  Who might make me feel like I belong again.

It could happen.  I believe it could.

So voila, there’s some hope.  And for me, hope is like air, in that I cannot live without it.  (I almost didn’t, in fact, but that’s another story.)  I now have hope that the thirteen months and thirteen days I spent with my First Mate don’t have to be the sum total of my belonging.

Huge.

Tonight I came to another confusion, as we like to say in my family.  You see, this Saturday would have been Mike’s 44th birthday, and we were talking about how to celebrate it.  I’m thinking a family dinner and maybe a toast…  Mom suggested releasing paper lanterns with messages written on them, which I really like.

But that got me thinking about how to remember him.  And how I can keep him in my life, even though he isn’t exactly in my life any more.  I acted the ass so thoroughly when I lost him (grief makes us do stupid things) that none of his friends or family talk to me any more.  His murderer is also his widow, so she gets to keep his name till she dies, she even got a frikkin’ television show.  Yeah, what do I get?  I get to feel like I’m nothing and nobody.  Which I am not, not by a long shot!  But it does feel that way.

Tonight I realized that I can, and should, find a constructive way to remember Mike.  Maybe find a cause to help in his name, maybe create something, maybe make a new tradition.  I don’t know what, I’m still working that out.  But I realized tonight that I’ve been looking for a place to put him in my life.  And because I haven’t had a place for him, he’s been floating all over and getting in the way, so to speak.

I think I’m finally getting started with this “moving on” and “healing” stuff that people have been talking about.  Sure has taken a while…  But I guess I’m a pretty tough nut to crack on some things.

Five years, seven months, three days, two hours, and twenty-one minutes.  And counting.

Less alone

There are many people in this world who love me, who don’t want me to leave.  Family, friends, all sorts of people.  I appreciate every bit of it, and I don’t want anyone to think otherwise.  But for all that love, for all that concern, there are only two of them who are actively working to keep me here.

Dennis and Shawn, you make me feel less alone.  You make me feel wanted, and loved, and needed, and appreciated.  The fact that you’re willing to actively do something to help me find a way to make enough money to stay here is humbling and encouraging.  It’s given me a second wind.  It’s helped me remember my own worth.

There are many people who say what they think and what they feel, which is sometimes a wonderful thing but also sometimes is WAY too much!  I tend to hide or disguise my emotions (especially the “negative” ones), and I know there are a lot of other people who do the same.  Many of us hold back the things we feel strongest about because we think we shouldn’t burden others with those feelings, especially if we’re struggling with some personal problem that we think we ought to be able to handle for ourselves.  I know one person who is struggling with a BIG problem, and sharing it, and sharing that she’s struggling with the sharing.  And as I read what she writes, I can feel her confusion and pain, and her reluctance to disclose that comes right along at the very moment that she’s disclosing it.

Kristina, you make me feel less alone.  You make me feel less crazy, and less neurotic, and less unstable, and more normal.  You echo my fears of not reacting normally, but not even being able to define a normal reaction in the first place.  I’ve never walked the path of cancer, but I’ve dealt with grief (not always well!) and I can appreciate some of what you’re dealing with.  And reading what you write about your struggles helps me understand my own.

I think that on some level I’m always going to feel alone.  I mean, I’ve been this way my whole life – looking at social interactions from the outside.  Not sure why that’s true, but it is and it always has been true, and I figure since it’s what I know best, it probably always will be true.  The only person in the world who ever in my life made me feel not-alone, who made me feel like I was an integral part of humanity, is gone, irrevocably lost for all time.  So I default to the comfort of solitude.  (Maybe I should just go live on a mountain by myself!)  But it does get lonely sometimes, and the solitude that I find so comfortable does need a break.  Unfortunately, spending so much time alone weakens the ties I feel with others, which makes it hard to alleviate the loneliness when it does bother me.

So I want to thank Dennis and Kristina and Shawn (in alphabetical order) for just being who you naturally are.  You’re all fabulous people, and I’m glad that I know you.  You didn’t intend to do any of it it for this reason (I don’t think) but you’ve made me feel less alone.  And I truly, deeply appreciate that.

No bueno

My cat Gumby (my little boy, my only child, my closest-thing-to-a-son-I-will-ever-have) has been sick lately.  As in, he’s been vomiting a lot in the past week.  At first I thought he’d found some plastic bags to chew on (which he had) so I didn’t think much of it.  But he kept doing it, which worried me.  Then yesterday he did it, and there was nothing but bile.  That’s not healthy.

So I put him in the kitty carrier (no mean feat) and took his whiny little butt down to the vet.

Bad news.  Very bad news.

It turns out that my little guy has heart disease.

His heart is so big that it’s compressing his lungs, pushing his esophagus out of place, causing irritation in his brochial tubes, and otherwise messing up all his innards.

Of course, this explains the two episodes when I thought he had seizures; they both occurred after he’d been very active.  And I gotta tell you, Dr. Choi at All Creatures Animal Hospital is great.  She suggested before that it might be a cardiopulmonary issue, but b/c Gumby wasn’t showing any other symptoms we decided to just monitor him.

Well, at any rate, she prescribed me meds that he’ll have to take for the rest of his life.  However much of it there is.  I asked about a prognosis for the future and she said sometimes they live a few years, sometimes they don’t last very long at all.  Hopefully we’ll have a better idea after we do a follow-up in a week or so.

I’m really torn up about it tho.  He’s my little boy.  He’s literally the only thing I asked for when Eric and I divorced.  I always knew I’d have to see him die.  I mean, cats just don’t live nearly as long as people do.  But I didn’t expect it to be anytime soon.

I’m really sad right now.