Monday, November 27, 2006

Sad Day

I had to bid goodbye to an old beloved friend today. Friend, confidant, surrogate child, old biddy, familiar, muse, and the only constant in my life for the past eighteen years, my cat-child Brandy made the long journey today.

She was ailing for the past month, and eighteen is ancient in cat years. However, I always hoped she would make it past the latest little complaint and regain her former health and good spirits. It was not to be. She had thyroid problems, an infected paw that wouldn't heal, a sore hip from a misplaced jump to the kitchen counter, arthritis, and was getting dehydrated and eating poorly. She couldn't make it to her bin downstairs so I brought it upstairs for her, but soon realized her hips were too sore for her to climb into the bin - if I caught her in time I could lift her in, but all too often half her pee would be out onto the newspapers lining the floor (this had been happening for a while). Knowing how fastidious cats are about their private business, it was additionally distressing to see her struggling. I also suspected she was going deaf, as often she would either ignore or not hear me calling her until I put a hand on her and she would brrrp? in surprise.

She spent her days in her basket or snoozing on the register. Which is not uncommon for an old biddy-cat, but before she used to seek out a sun puddle or gaze out the window plotting disaster for the local bird population. Now she barely looked up if birds twittered or Daisy cat streaked by, defending her territory from imagined marauding cats outside. Daisy gets quite indignant if neighbour cats enter our yard, and yowls and growls through the windows just to show them what's what.

My poor darling girl. It was time, and I knew it, inside. When the vet arrived today she was shocked at how much Brandy had declined over the past few weeks, since she had been by to look at her paw - the one that didn't heal.

"well, that was pretty strong antibiotic, it should have cleared up her paw. Her immune system is clearly compromised. She's lost weight, she's obviously dehydrated, and you say she isn't keeping her food down anymore. Her hips still have range of motion so it might be an internal problem if she's not entering her bin to pee. We could do more antibiotics, and blood tests, and see what we can find out. We could get her onto some pain medication ...." She paused, not saying the words.

"It's okay. I've been thinking about it. I don't want to put her through the stress of invasive tests, or medicate her needlessly. She's had a long and full life. I don't want her to have a painful and long-drawn death"

I decided to let my sweet girl make the long journey home. I couldn't keep her alive for my sake by increasing her medications, and I didn't want her to slowly erode away and sicken before my eyes. With Samuel to take care of I knew I didn't have the resources to constantly nurse her as I would want to if she were to die slowly and naturally, even with palliative pain reducing meds.

"You're doing the right thing. It's alright to make the decision now. Her body is shutting down, it's only a matter of time. Are you ready, do you need a few days, time to prepare?" One is never ready, never prepared to say goodbye to a beloved soul. A few days would just lengthen the pain of knowing she would be gone. I cuddled my dear daughter and wished her a safe journey home to the Great Mother and the best of new lives in the future. I held her as she slowly fell asleep.

Her little basket is empty, the heat register where she spent her last days is missing its constant companion. The house is bereft. My heart is broken. I shall go sadly for long and long.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Today has been One of Those Days. It started off with the house being a disaster. Not that it's normally pristine, but the amount of stuff obscuring every horizontal surface had reached a new high of mayhem.

I had way too little sleep due to a soiree yesterday, and went from harried to hectic to frenzied with very little provocation. Samuel, bless his little self, slept beautifully last night, which meant he was bright-eyed at six. I dragged my sorry butt out of bed, knowing I had a busy day - I had signed up for a meditation retreat. Talk about irony. I spent the next two hours dashing around getting Samuel's breakfast, preparing his lunch for later, laying out his clothes for the day, entertaining him, feeding him breakfast, feeding the cats, getting lunch for the sitter, mixing up a bean salad for the potluck at the retreat, along with the usual shower and breakfast for myself.

I packed Samuel into the car and drove over to get the sitter (my niece) - by now it was 9am and he was thinking about a nap. I left the two of them with only one false start - I had to go back to get the breast pump so that I wouldn't explode by lunch time.

The retreat itself was wonderful, except that I mostly just wanted to sleep through it. At lunch, I realized I had brought the breast pump but forgotten a bottle, so it was useless. I decided to try and stay for as long as possible, and lasted until 2:30 which I thought was pretty valiant, considering my breasts were very annoyed with me and let me know about it. At least I didn't leak all over my host's living room floor, but my Guru devotion meditation consisted of "should I leave now? No, I can wait. No, I can't wait. Yes, I think I can wait. I really should stop thinking about whether I can wait." and more along those lines.

Arriving home I learned that Samuel hadn't slept while I was gone except for 20 minutes in the morning. This meant he was short on 2 hours of sleep, which did not bode well for the rest of the day - a visit to my brother's for a noisy, busy family event. Samuel held up fairly well, until we got home. What else is new.

Then it was lots of crying, refusing to eat, me trying to feed the cats, Daisy cat stealing food from Brandy cat, me locking Daisy into the basement, Brandy peeing in the plant because the basement door was locked - actually off the edge of it which is a minor blessing since the floor washes and doesn't smell perpetuually of cat piss as the dirt would have. What else? oh yes, Daisy cat eating Samuel's leftovers AND the rest of Brandy's food while I put newspaper to soak up the pee, Samuel crying because I forgot to rescue the bottle of formula and it dribbled onto him, me realizing I'd completely forgotten to phone a new mom back to help her decipher why her baby wasn't sleeping (like I would know), and then bath and bed for Samuel where he promptly began to cry his guts out because he was overtired.

I just put on the OM cd (it chants OM for about an hour and is his usual lullaby to fall asleep), made sure he wasn't gassy or tangled in his blankets, and walked away. He cried for fifteen minutes and I am now having a big attack of Mean Mommy Guilt for not trying to comfort him more. I picked him up twice but that was against the strict orders from the How to Help Your Baby Sleep website. I just can't ignore his crying, though I do try to refrain from actually picking him up to comfort him. It's so hard. sigh. He has moved into his crib from sleeping in my bed, and we both sleep better for it. It's just these nights when everything is Too Much. At least it's only 9 pm and not midnight or something.

Monday, November 06, 2006


... bit of a denoument, really. They ended up sending the dishwasher part to my parents' house via an employee who lived in the same neighbourhood. Which was very nice of them. I can imagine the conversation they must have had...

Manager: uh, so what's going on with this dishwasher thing?
Staff: Oh. My. God. you wouldn't BELIEVE this woman, she keeps calling and calling. Can we just send her the *@!!$# part?
Manager: yeah, I guess, just don't kill yourself doing it. Doesn't Bob live over thataway? maybe he can take it.
Staff: WHAT.ever! just get her off my back!
Manager: alright, don't have a bird. Bob can take it.

And the next day, Bob (or actually, Bob-ette, it was a woman) shows up with the part. Voila! Luckily I happened to be at my parents at the time, and I was duly grateful. I gave Bob-ette the original dented part, just to prove my point. She took it, though I heard her thinking "what does she think I'm going to DO with this?!? I don't even work in that department!"