At 4:45 I’m sitting in the vet’s lobby with my cat in carrier. She isn’t happy to be there. Neither am I. I’m just desensitized, really. I’ve spent the last few days off and on crying and right now I don’t want to cry in this public place, with someone’s irritating dog barking somewhere. Vet offices never smell very nice, either. And I hate that my cat is here, because she doesn’t like places like this. I wish she could die at home.
My kids are reading and playing with the coffee-table type books and Nels goes up to the receptionist and asks for a cardboard box, which he proceeds to affix to the back of his handmade clockface (complete with real “hands” secured by a brad) he’d brought with him. Sometimes my kids are so much help in difficult times: today, not so much one way or another. I stare at the wall in complete disinterest of anything but getting through the next few minutes. I have a job to do.
I’d asked for Dr. Keller, the same vet who ran the tests on my cat last Friday, the woman who made the difficult phone call on Sunday and who has been such a help to talk to the last few days. After a few minutes she approaches me and says something quietly and we go to the exam room. She tells me it’s best to put a catheter in the cat, as her veins won’t be easy to find – Blackie is very thin and a bit dehydrated. When the doctor brings the cat back, my son is with us. Nels keeps talking – he is unsure if Blackie is going to die, or be killed, or go to sleep (this kind of confusion is why I don’t use the “go to sleep” euphemism). He is attentive and a bit excited and apprehensive. I’m usually very keen to observe my kids and their reactions to life’s major events, but I can’t summon much interest. I know I am not there for the kids right now. That’s just how it is.
I hold my cat and the doctor injects her and after a moment her head falls. And she is still so very, very soft and warm and it doesn’t set in that she’s gone even though I know it’s true. And I hold her and cry silently but violently, with my head against her for a while. I don’t really hear what my son is saying. And after a while I stand up and Dr. Keller tells me she’s glad I brought her in and she says a few more things. She has been a great doctor throughout this and she now has my complete loyalty. I wrap my Blackie in a blanket and walk into the waiting room and tonelessly direct my children to carry this and that and someone opens the door for me and I recognize that tender compassion from the small group in the room who know that something terrible has happened for me. I really, really don’t care what they all think.
I come home and I fold my dear girl into the same little position she always rested in – her head tucked on her paws, tidy in a little ball so small, so fragile. I wrap her in a yard of brilliant blue silk and tie her up with black velvet ribbon and she is a soft little bundle. The feeling of a body is so unique. It’s so obviously a body. I am between worlds, because she is no longer here, but I can feel her as if she is. I send my daughter to the store to purchase a few catnip mice – one to bury Blackie with, two for our living creatures at home.
Then I mix and knead rolls for tonight’s dinner and remove the pumpernickel bread from the oven and prepare chicken and broccoli and fresh lime bars and do laundry and I’m there with my kids but I know I’m not really doing a good job at it all.
I don’t like people telling me they know how I feel, or how I’m going to feel. Because I know how I feel and only I do, no matter if someone else has gone through something similar that person is not me.
Today, I am numb. I don’t feel things I normally feel. Like my love for my other cats and even though I know I care deeply for them and love my children and husband these feel more like small, remote facts, facts that irritate me in some slight way because I’d like to be alone but that isn’t much of an option.
I know I won’t always feel this way. I will recover quite a bit soon. I will never be the same. I sometimes feel loss chips away at me just a bit, every time. I wonder if I’m not really a survivor, when it comes down to it.
My mom gives us $100 to help with the expenses and suggests we go out and do “something fun”. And I’ll have fun soon enough but that idea is tasteless and bland on my tongue, even though I am tired of being home and the little spot under the coffee table where she was resting is empty and cold.
My mom’s gift is such a nice gift. And people write me emails and messages and DMs and I appreciate them, I really do.
I had to do a hard thing today.
I am sorry Bird.
I am so sorry your Blackie is gone, but glad you had twelve years with her. Thank you for telling us her story.
I found this poem when I lost my wonderful witchy black kitty this fall and I thought of it today for you and Blackie. I’m so sorry, she sounds like such a magical and dear creature.
On the Death of a Cat
In life, death
to you: I am
willing to wager
my soul that it
simply never occurrred
to your nightmareless
mind, while sleep
(see it raised
to an infinite
power and perfection)–no death
in you then, so now
how even less. Dear stealth
to an evil
milk fang, whiskered
– Franz Wright
Medrie, Billy: thank you.
Carrie… man, that one really got me. Thank you for posting that. My little kitty was witchy, milk fang, night friend.
I’m so sorry you’re hurting. I’m glad that your cat was loved, and treated with care and affection. I’m glad she’ll be remembered. x
It is hard to say goodbye. I am sorry.
Oh Darling. I’m so sorry. So very, very. And I’m crying right now and wishing that if I were there, I could offer you something, but I know I wouldn’t be of any use. So just know that I’m thinking of you. And I’m going to tell Dax and Kiki about Blackie right now so that when they join her, they will find her and play.
It’s uncanny how much Blackie looks like my Wedge. I had to go through a similar experience about five years ago with him. I will never forget how important it was to me (and I would like to think to him) that I was the last thing he would ever see before the lights went out. Looking into his eyes as they turned milky white was one of the hardest things that I ever had to do. I hadn’t cried like that since I was a kid. The vet assistants seemed surprised to see a 6’2″ man crying over a cat, but at the same time I knew they understood why.
I still miss him. We have two other cats, but some places just can’t be filled again. Wedge’s place (as his name implies) was always wedged in bed between me and my wife, laying with his front paws over my arm because he liked to be hugged like a kid’s teddy bear as I fell asleep.
Not sure why I thought I should post this here. I guess it’s because I’ve never really had anyone else to tell the story to.
Thanks for blogging Kelly. I found you through Rational Jenn’s blog. I will return often to see what you’re writing.
Aw, Kidsync… wow. I had tears in my eyes reading your comment. I could just imagine Wedge in every way. Did you name him after the Star Wars character? Prolly the only Star Wars character I liked, I think.
I know what you mean, no kitty quite compares to certain kitties in our life… yeah, I have two surviving cats, but… yeah. Not the same.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
No, I didn’t name him after the Star Wars character. I think his name was Cobalt when we adopted him. After the first week or so he made it clear that he would always wiggle his way into a spot next to me no matter where I was in the house. The new name seemed to fit.
I had to Google the Star Wars character. I’m not a big enough fan to know that much detail. Sounds like a great character though and he looks familiar after seeing his picture.