Friday, June 5, 2009
She entered the world in April of 1993. I was ten years old and blessed to adopt her into my life. We grew up together, caring for each other, both believing that the other was the child who needed nurtured. As a kid I snuggled her under the covers and waited for her to fall asleep against my side. I did foolish things too, like shut her in the bathroom with me when I dried my hair, even though I knew she was afraid of the hairdryer. I only did that so that I could rescue her, so she would cling to me for dear life as if I was the only thing that could protect her. I cherished that feeling of being needed, of being someone's hero. Even now, no matter how stressed she becomes, I know that I can calm her by lying on my back and placing her on my chest. I'll rub her ears, she'll purr, then she'll lick my nose. We're best friends.
Winter is 16 years old now, a geriatric kitty. I've watched her slow down over the years, sleep more, play less, lose weight and start looking, well, old. I monitored her weight, checked her blood work at regular intervals, but there's not much you can do for old age. However, in the past few weeks we've noticed a drastic change in her ability to see. I took her in to my part-time work place and the vet checked her out. Detached retinas. Her blood pressure is high. Her heart murmur has become louder. Blood work confirms kidney disease. I figured as much.
I started feeding her special food for her kidneys two days ago. I mixed in vitamins as well as a tiny quarter of a pill to lower her blood pressure. She has always been a bit of a piglet and canned food has been a special treat in the past, so she was extremely excited to start eating this delicious, stinky, wet food. That day was awesome, she ate happily, seemed to be feeling well, and had no complaints. Yesterday went just as smoothly, but early this morning she decided to stop cooperating and has had no interest in eating since.
Bribery with chicken broth hasn't worked.
I don't know what to do.
I hate knowing that she doesn't feel well enough to eat but not knowing how to make her feel better. I've been mentally preparing for her departure from this earth, but I don't look forward to that moment. I don't look forward to the hours leading up to it either.
Oh, my sweet child. She's been beside me through it all. She has been a constant friend through all of my ups and downs: puberty, those angst-filled teen years, the loves and break-ups, the growing up, the marriage and moving out. She has never let me down. I just hope I can return the favor.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
After our appointments, we decided we needed some fatty, greasy food. We sat in Ben's Burgers waiting for the meat to cook, and I listened to KKIQ blasting through the restaurant's speakers. Lady Gaga, followed by Jimmy Eat World, followed by Nickelback. Really? Then I heard it. The glorious weather report that informed me of the thunderstorm that was fourteen miles away and moving in our direction. Hallelujah!
We picked up our bag of delicious burgers and fries and headed home. As I drove, my eager eyes scanned the dark clouds.
Once parked in the driveway, the drops of rain began to fall more consistently. I stepped out of the car and stood, face up to the sky, my skin drinking in the drops from heaven. Then I heard it. My old friend Thunder was creeping across the sky and my heart and nose and skin were instantly transported to an early time, an earlier me. I was 6, scared in bed at the roar of the skies. I was 9, playing outside as the storm moved closer. I was in a greener, more humid place.
In real time, I was about to cry. Why? Why does something that brings me so much joy cause a bittersweet pain deep in my chest? The best explanation I have is that these memories of a younger, carefree time make me happy, but the knowledge that those times are forever lost saddens me. The hollow ache comes when I think of all the family members who have passed through the veil, those people who I love so much and who are no longer in that greener, more humid place. The places that are the most special to me were not made that way on their own. They were made magnificent by the people with whom I shared those spaces.
If the people are gone, do the locations hold the same power?
I went inside our house, leaving just the screen closed so that I could hear the roar and the splatter through the open doorway. I put on a sweatshirt and slippers and sat at the table in front of an open window. I watched the sky come to life with a flash. I heard the clouds echo with power. I saw the street splash and flow with cleansing rain. I was filled with joy, with a sense of peace and a knowledge that, though some things have to change, pieces of the magic will always return to spark a memory and bring life to sleeping dreams.