Sunday, March 3, 2013

Here I Am, Right Where I Left Myself

It is simply unacceptable that I've let myself go so long without writing--nearly two years! My typing skills have been deteriorating before my eyes, so some practice is long overdue.

And anyway, I could use the therapy.

As I'm writing this, I find myself in a situation similar to when I last wrote: the still somewhat raw phase of grieving the loss of a dear friend.

Just over three weeks ago, we lost Ryan's cat Perch...suddenly. She'd had very early signs of kidney disease, and we'd been treating her for a couple of months. Ryan was taking her to the vet three times a week for fluids, and she'd recently started a treatment that we hoped would correct her anemia, which was at the time our main concern. He appetite was back; she was her old self--friendly, affectionate and ever curious. Her last scheduled trip to the vet went well. She got another injection for her anemia, and blood tests showed her red blood cells were back in normal range!

The following evening, Ryan came home to find she couldn't lift her head. The doctor at the emergency clinic attributed it to a lack of potassium and started her on a slow drip overnight to correct it. She spent the following day with her regular veterinarian, who made phone calls and consulted with colleagues and basically searched high and low for an explanation for her sudden decline. I rushed to Oklahoma City early that afternoon to be with her and Ryan, and when I arrived we went straight to the clinic. All I wanted was to see her with my own eyes, and I felt a rush of hope when I saw her reach out a paw toward Ryan.

We didn't know it at the time, but this was the last we'd see of Perch as we knew her.

Having left her again in the vet's capable care, we were out having dinner that evening when Ryan got a call from the vet telling us to come right away. Within the hour, she had passed away peacefully, with the doctor petting her and monitoring her condition closely, and with Ryan and me at her side.

Just like that, our little angel was gone.

There are so many details, so many emotions and memories that are too sacred to share here. The pain was all the more unbearable because we weren't at all prepared to say goodbye. And I grieved not only for my loss, but for Ryan's too. She was his best buddy, his constant companion. When he sat at his desk, she would get in his lap and put her paws on the desk, occasionally batting at the keyboard. She followed him everywhere, happy just to be with him and to be in the middle of whatever he was doing.

When I would leave him after staying for the weekend, I never worried about Ryan getting sad or lonely; he had Perch to look after him.

There was another component to it as well, and I'm just realizing it now that some time has passed.

When I lost Sunshine, it was a long drawn out process: months of constant anxiety over her appetite, her medication, and her quality of life. There was the weight of deciding when to end her suffering. Would I make it too soon? Would I wait too long? How much more could she and I take?

When you're taking care of someone day in and day out, you don't necessarily have the "luxury" of falling apart. I had to be strong for her and make the best of the time we had left...and that's what I did. But when it was finally time to say goodbye, I didn't quite know how to stop being strong.

I felt lost without her, but I also felt relief...I was tired and just needed to rest, to recover physically, mentally and emotionally. Perhaps I had grieved little bits over a long period of time while she was sick; perhaps I didn't have much left when I finally let her go. All I know is that Ryan's cats Perch and Mary Hartman lifted me up during this time.

So did my boys. But they were so different from Sunshine...big and boisterous and loud. Sunshine and I understood each other on a deep level; we each knew instinctively what the other needed or wanted, and we  went with the ebb and flow of each day like it was a flawless dance. We were twin souls. 

I never have had and probably never will have the exact same kind of relationship with my boys, and that's okay. But I took comfort in spending time with Ryan's little ladies. I delighted in watching them move around in their dainty little bodies, flirtatious and coy. I enjoyed the nuances of their calmer dispositions, which seemed distinctively female in nature. I fell in love with them both, all over again.

I'm seeing now that Perch especially helped me during that time, and I'm realizing that I began to rely on her for something very important. What it was specifically, I can't quite pinpoint. Joy? Optimism? "Girl time?" Whatever it was, when I lost her the bottom dropped out.

Although I feel lost without her, I find comfort in believing she is still with us; she is our guardian angel. I always believed she truly was some sort of angel who had taken the form of a cat and was sent here especially for Ryan when he needed her most. Now, I'm more certain than ever that this is true, and that these days she's more free to move around and do her work. 

Perhaps some time I'll elaborate on that theory. But for now, I'm going to get my boys their dinner and give them kisses and start some of the house work I've been putting off. 

Thanks, Internet, for letting me share my thoughts. Thanks, Friends, for reading them.

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