Just Because…

“Just because I liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean I’ll always like it, or that I have to go on liking it at all points in time as an unthinking act of loyalty to who I am as a person, based solely on who I was as a person. To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure, and this means I’m growing, and not stagnant or shrinking.” ―Jarod Kintz

The Moon Is A Loyal Companion…

“The moon is a loyal companion.

It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do.

Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light.

The moon understands what it means to be human.

Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”

―Tahereh Mafi

Truly Good……

Truly Good…

I don’t usually share two quotes in one day, but one of my best friends just said this to me this morning and it REALLY made me feel good. This is one of the reasons she & I have been best friends for over 20 years, I’m blessed to have her in my life.

Truly good friends do whatever humanly possible so as NOT to fail their friends. They care, they give of their time, they listen, they’re loyal, they don’t blow smoke up your ass, they tell you when you’re wrong, they are unfailingly supportive, but most of all, they know how to be a friend. You are, one million percent, that friend and I love you for it.” © Stefanie Adams-McNamara

Sometimes Surviving Is Pain

“If writers stopped writing about what happened to them, then there would be a lot of empty pages.” -Elaine Liner

Hello my lovely readers:

I would be lying if I said these past few days without my little girl have been easy. They haven’t. In some ways the worst part is over, moving her body (a horrible thing. I reminded myself that she was still her and that I would do anything for her, otherwise I probably would have had a nervous breakdown.) and bringing her to the vet temporarily while I order a coffin and decide exactly where in the backyard she will go. It might seem morbid, but at least this way, I know who is visiting her grave and exactly where it is at all times. Her sister is buried at a cemetery and because I lost my Mom right after burying her, I haven’t been back out there. It’s not far from where I live now, it just opens up a lot of wounds. Burying is for the living, truly. I damn near had a coronary when I was asked twice by my vet’s office if I wanted her cremated. That’s like asking me if I’d like to personally experience the Holocaust. Yes, that’s the image that pops into my head every single time someone says the word “cremation”. I cannot burn anyone I have ever loved, and that includes my cat. (Ok, I could probably burn someone I didn’t particularly care for, but that’s a discussion for another day. I don’t care about being politically correct, I’m just me.)

Friday was solemn for me. Initially I went into a bit of cleaning frenzy. I tossed the place-mat where her food and water were in the kitchen. Not out of cruelty or anger, but because I was planning on tossing it anyway, losing her just gave me a reason to do it sooner rather than later. I cleared her food and water from the mat upstairs, but that particular mat is just a few months old, all it needs is to be wiped down and put away for the future. I tossed a small scratching post. It was nothing fancy and I know new kittens won’t touch it because they’ll smell her pheremones and start looking for her. That’s only natural. I’m not stupid enough to think that tossing those few things I was unattached to will mean anything, but it was something I had to do.

My next step was walking into the loft space which separates my room from the other half of the top of my home. I’ve had boxes sitting there since I moved in. I went through some things and threw stuff out. I recycled an old storage container and turned it into a container for the weekly recycling that I haven’t done in years. That’s a positive change, right? I then tossed all the empty beauty products I had into it for recycling. Soon after an empty soda bottle and iced tea bottle would join. Progress. Sometimes it comes in baby steps. I am planning on donating some clothes and home items that I do not want/need or cannot use. I take great care of my clothes, so whoever gets this stuff is basically getting brand new clothing. Helping someone in need is never a crime.

The people closest to me have expressed some concerns. Apparently my methods of coping are bizarre to those who don’t understand that we all cope in our own ways, at our own rate, but that we have to do it on our own in many respects. I’ve been asked to leave my home for a while, as if that will erase her memory somehow. I have been asked to “remember to eat”, as if I have ever gone on some kind of starvation diet in the past when I’ve lost a loved one. I’ve buried over 60 people in my life and this will be my third cat, I’m not “new” to death or loss. I have been reminded that “a few drinks won’t hurt”, and that I should be using something to “numb the pain”. That only managed to piss me off. One, I’m not a big drinker. The only time I actually buy alcohol is when I know someone who drinks will be visiting and staying with me, or if I need something for a recipe. I don’t turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with anything in my life. Suppressing what I think and feel is to lie to myself, and I won’t do that.

Everyone that has expressed concern means well. No one is saying anything to hurt me, they just have a point of view that I don’t particularly agree with. That’s ok, and I’m not taking anything personally. Just as they should not take it personally as I choose to do things my own way.

I prefer not to have my feelings psycho-analyzed right now. I’m a very extreme person. I don’t deal in a lot of mundane thoughts or feelings. I understand that this is going to be a long, painful process. I understand that every time I put my necklace on, which bears her name (The design is called Who Do You Love? and has an owl hand-stamped on it. Her name is also on it and the smaller one that has a crescent moon has her sister’s name on it. I’ve had it for a few years and I love it. Now it’s my daily necklace in place of the family crest design with my initial on it.), it’s going to sting a bit. I washed a load of her blankets yesterday and it hurt to find one lone strand of cat hair on my shoulder a few hours later. That’s where it’s supposed to be though. I have her brushes, one of which she stole from my purse a few years ago. My little mini-me was such a girl’s girl. She loved to be brushed, she loved being told how beautiful she was, loved being told how beautiful & silky her coat was, and my brother always said she smelled exactly like me. No matter what I did, she somehow became the second wearer of my perfume each day. I’ve been wearing that perfume for a little over 10 years. I love it, but now I love it for the both of us. I have her blanket, which I had specially made for her five years ago. I refuse to part with it, I may have to be buried with it.

A few people wanted to know when I was going to adopt again. I really gave that a lot of thought. I’ve perused Petfinder’s web-site quite a bit, and I did stop at a local PetSmart to see if they had any kittens (they had older cats. I’m looking for true kittens, 8-10 weeks old.). In the end, I made the decision to give myself sufficient time to kitten-proof the house. Kittens are unlike older cats that are already calmer and set in their ways. They’re curious by nature, they want to smell and jump on EVERYTHING, and even with enzymatic cleaner used on my carpet, they are going to smell that another cat lived here. By the time they are six months old they will have free run of the house and I am sure they will do exactly what she did when we moved in, which is mark every single wall and piece of furniture as her property. I, myself, was marked as cat property a good 50 times a day, lest a stray cat attempt to thieve me away on my way to the car, mailbox, or the grocery store. I’m still convinced she had some kind of kitty Lojack attached to me so that she knew where I was at all times. Eventually, they will do the same. I wonder if the kitty Lojack gets re-registered in their names or if a new “device” is installed?! LOL.

I have decided to honor her by adopting another Tortoiseshell. I’m truly in love with this unique, but unofficial breed. Many cats can have Tortie coloring, but my little girl’s coloring and very unique tri-colored eyes are what I’m looking for in a 2nd Tortie. The eyes are rare, she had grey eyes for the first six months or so of her life, and then they became gold with blue and green bordering outside the gold. You couldn’t always see it because, like me, her eyes were almost always fully dilated. Not all Tortie’s will have her eye color, but I know I will find one who was every bit as special as she was. Special and different, because no one and nothing will ever replace her. I hope to add the new addition(s) by the end of the year.

My other way of honoring her is with two small tattoos. They will go underneath mine, that way our lives, spirits, and futures will remain intertwined. I am on the hunt for the perfect, ultra feminine looking font. If anyone has any recommendations, please send me a message and/or a photo, or leave me a comment so that I can get in touch with you.

So yes, I am coping. I have good days and bad days. I will eventually be ok. I don’t think the pain will ever disappear entirely, I think it lives within you and becomes a part of who you are and how you grow. People talk about broken hearts, but it is the losses we experience in life that are the deepest cuts. We either slowly bleed to death or we somehow suture ourselves together and keep moving. It’s not easy, looking at it too closely is extremely painful, but eventually we all hit that fight or flight moment in life where we decide which direction we’re going in. I’m a fighter. I am the pitbull of my family, the one who will be the epitome of loyal, but will rip you to shreds if she has to. Unfortunately, running never solves anything, so fight I shall.

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Facing The Pain

Tomorrow I am going to lose my cat. Realization has sunk in, and I’ve been crying for days.

Last week was a bad one for her. She was throwing up, she had physically distanced herself from me. She sought no comfort, she ignored me, and many times she looked at me with no recognition as to who I was or why I was touching her. It’s like she’d developed Alzheimer’s, and it made me sick to the point of headaches and tears.

This week was worse. She fell down the stairs Monday evening and sometime between yesterday and today, she seems to have had a stroke. I don’t know if she’ll make it through the night, and I can honestly say I don’t know what in the world I am going to do without her.

This little cat has been with me through some of the darkest days of my life, she has seen me through things I never thought I’d get through. She is one of the only living beings that has known me longer than anyone else that has come into my life since. Losing her will kill an immense chunk of who I am, and yet I know that after she is buried and the crying stops (if it ever does), I will adopt again. Because I may not be “a crazy cat lady”, but I do thrive on the love and attention both given and received from these magical creatures. I raised her, and she knows me better than people who were in my life long before she came along. What does that say about people when animals see more substance than they do?!

I remember the first day I met my soon-to-be kittens. They were to be a birthday gift. Surrounded by so many animals in cages, all needing a forever home, I went straight for the kittens. I had talked about nothing, but kittens at that point for three years. Initially, a few showed interest in me, but it was mild. One kitten went right for me with his claws, as if I might harm him in some way and he needed to defend himself. That or no one had bothered to clip his nails, who knows? My best friend at the time was with me and said “Look how sweet these two are.”, and he proceeded to show me my babies.

The first was the larger of the two kittens. Grey, white, cream, and smoke colored with big golden eyes, huge ears, and paws. She was part Egyptian Mau. I said hello and gave her my hand. She sniffed at me and gave me her paw, no claws, just her paw in my hand, gentleness, and her sweet little face. I was in love. Resting behind her was her litter-mate, a tiny Tortoiseshell who would become my complete and total mini-me. She had the darkest of the Tortie colors all over, a smattering of color here and there, what some people would probably refer to as “Dilute”, but she had this amazing tail with a great big orange stripe running through the middle and bits of cinnamon shading. She had pretty grey eyes. She was unimpressed, and scared. Her sister was bigger and was the protector. She wouldn’t let anyone touch “the baby”, as we were calling her in that moment.

I had to have them, those were my exact words.

A couple had been following me from cage to cage in a very eerie way. I heard them say, in another language, “Is she taking them? If not, we only want the pretty one.” The cage was marked DOUBLE ADOPTION, everyone who had inquired about “the pretty one” was informed that you had to take them both, you couldn’t just have one. Many had walked away. I called someone over to me and said “Can I see these two please?” The couple then asks “Are you taking them?” to which everyone with me immediately responds “YES!”

Two little kittens are brought to me inside the meeting room. The sweet one immediately turns into hell on four paws. She doesn’t want to be held, she doesn’t want to be kissed, no, she doesn’t want to play, she wants to RUN. She allows me to hold her for a few seconds, and then proceeds to jump off of me around the room. I sported so many scratches from this cat throughout her life that I’m lucky my hands and feet bear not a single scar (I do have a few scars from longer, deeper scratches when I was holding her and someone scared her. It’s possible I am the only one that can still see them, but they’re definitely a part of me, a part of my life with cats.). God Bless the inventors of Neosporin.

Her tiny companion is very quiet, shy, reserved, very scared. My Mom picks her up so she can look in her eyes and says “Ok little girl, what’s wrong with you?” All of a sudden this little spitfire of a kitten looks right down at her, sticks both of her front paws into my mother’s mouth, and gives her the perfect expression that says “I don’t know lady, what’s wrong with you?!” That spark of fiery personality let us know that she was shy & healthy, and we would soon learn she had the biggest mind of her own.

I’d made my choice, and the second they were moved into a “holding cage” (#26, the same day as my birthday) I KNEW there was no way they weren’t going home with me. I knew they were mine. It took several hours for the adoption to be approved (North Shore Animal League is no joke, they call ALL of your references to make sure they’re not handing an animal over to someone that shouldn’t have a pet. I was lucky they didn’t ask for a DNA sample.), but once the approval came through, I was given two kittens in a traveling box, a huge supply of the Iams diet they’d been eating since arriving at NSAL, and I was also given the opportunity to bring them back to have them spayed free of charge as part of the adoption fee (They were both spayed several months later at my local vet.).

Their first night home was a bit much. After several hours in the car, they were ready to be let free to run, to play, & go to the bathroom. I decided to keep them confined to one room in my apartment since they were so small and gradually let them into the other rooms as they got a little older. Being kittens, they jumped over the gate I put up countless times in their efforts to explore. They didn’t like to be confined in any way, they both thrived on freedom. Once they were no longer tiny and in danger of serious trouble, they had free reign of their home.

I’d spend countless hours throwing bouncy rubber balls against my closet door which they would then chase all over the room since the hard wood floors allowed them to really get into this game. As they got older they took to bringing the balls to me whenever they wanted to play. I’d wake up sometimes and there would be three balls in bed with me. Once they tired out, they’d settle into their cat beds or my bed and sleep for what seemed like very short periods of time back in those days. They weren’t big meal eaters, they both grazed, so I always left food and fresh water out for them.

After a few months I tossed their cat beds (The oldest had decided they were better litter boxes than cat beds! I’m not sure why she disliked it so much, but I think it was the simple fact that as she got older, she got more territorial Gone were the days of two kittens sleeping together and showing each other so much affection.) and they slept with me. One at my head, one at the foot of the bed. These positions didn’t change much from kitten-hood into adult hood, but they did switch places at times for territorial reasons.

They were both extremely unique in personality. The oldest kitten had to meet everyone and be social and loving, but my mini-me decided that she only loved me. By “loved me”, I mean she was downright obsessed with my comings and goings, followed me everywhere, and had to be with me no matter what. I’m pretty sure that when she decided I was going to be her person when she was about 5 months old that she had someone install some kind of kitty Lojack on me when I was sleeping and unaware. This should be helpful for future cats that may find they need a tracking device on their new Mommy.

In May of 2008 I lost my part Mau little girl when she threw a clot and died in my arms. My mother died two weeks later. It was an awful year, truly. Now here I am in the beginning of another year, a year that was supposed to be better, and I am losing another baby.

Tomorrow I will put my beloved little girl to sleep. I didn’t want to have to make this choice, but I cannot allow her to suffer for a single moment longer than necessary. This week has torn me apart.

I was asked this morning if I wanted one of the other vets to handle this (Believe it or not, I’ve never met any of the other three vets that work there.), and I said no, that I cannot do this without my vet. That might seem silly, it might even seem selfish, but this woman has cared for my macaroon since I moved here in 2009. She has been kind, attentive, loving, compassionate, caring, real, and it was her diagnosis that saved my cat in May of 2009. That diagnosis and the subsequent treatment have kept her alive ever since. Many times she would say to her “You love your Mommy very much, I can see that.”, and she’d always hold her and kiss her like she was one of her own. How can you not love a vet that good? Believe me, they are rare.

I once got into a massive fight with a vet. He was a moron, and my reaction was to put him in his place. I’m a little over 5.3 ½”, and this guy was a good 6.8″ or so. The more I talked, the further he backed away from me, until he was hitting the rear door. I can see he wants to argue with me, but he wasn’t going to win, not that day. The way he kept moving away from me was hilarious. It got to the point where my brother said “If you’re going to hit him, I’ll be outside.” I apologized to this guy’s boss the following day and he said “Don’t apologize, how else is he going to learn?!” Finding a good vet is definitely a priceless thing.

Last night I was reminded that I have given this cat a life so full of love. My brother said to me “I have never seen anyone be a better cat mother than you. You are nurturing, committed, devoted, she has never gone without love and the things she needs. You’ve gone above and beyond, she adores you, that little cat just plain worships you. Don’t ever think you haven’t done enough.”

Sometimes we need to hear things like this from the casual observer, especially when we don’t think that person is really paying attention to anything.

In closing, I know I will get through this. I will cry, I will hurt, I will mourn, and I will rise up out of the ashes once again like the phoenix that I am.

My little girl will be in the backyard in a spot the sun always gets. She has always loved laying in the sun and whenever she did, our eyes would be the exact same shade of green.

Keep me in your prayers tomorrow. I will need it.

UPDATE: My little girl passed away tonight as I slept by her side. At about 7:40 PM or so I told her to stop holding on for me, because she was suffering. I told her to follow the light, that my Mom and her sister would be waiting for her. I fell asleep holding her paw, and sometime between then and waking up at 11:00-11:30 PM to check on her, she had passed away. I’m devastated, but I will eventually be ok.