life: getting there

Still emotionally and physically spent. I have a video that I recorded last week, but I’m not in the right state of mind to post it, so it will keep until next Friday. I’ll be traveling next week, which gives me very little time to find normal before heading out. I’m going to try to make the best of the weekend and get some writing done/catch up on the little things/spend time with the cats and family. I’ve fallen behind on every aspect of my life and I just have to accept it.

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life: a pause

I had a post planned for today, a video that needs editing. I was going to stay home and rest, try to beat my cold. Instead, I woke to find that one of my colleagues died in particularly tragic manner. Grief and loss strike in different ways. No one way is the “right” way to grieve. Right now, I just need to step back and reflect and be there for my department.

a little serendipity

I lost my grandfather last fall. This is the first time he hasn’t been there for my birthday. Every year he gave me a card and a $20 bill, and every year I thanked him and told him that I appreciated it, no matter how small. He was always concerned that it was too little, blame it on years of dealing with my cousins. This year, there was no card and the loss was palpable.

I’m not big on faith or miracles, but on Monday my mom told me she found a stack of greeting cards and letters. Somehow, a sheet protector filled with envelopes found its way into one of her storage boxes. I have no idea how it might have ended up in that box. I don’t even remember packing them up, but somehow one of my grandfather’s cards ended up in that box and inside was a $20 bill.

finding normal

It’s been a pretty rough week. My birthday was the day after I lost Didymus; it was the saddest birthday I’ve had in a very long time. It was a few days before I felt like doing more than wandering around or lying on the couch reading, but I started writing again on Monday. The boy has been very supportive and managed to distract me with a Back to the Future marathon. There’s been a lot of soul-searching; it’s been a year full of loss and I’m just hoping to find a new sense of normal in light of it. I took in one of my mom’s special needs cats yesterday. He was born with ingrown eyelashes and lost most of his vision in one eye at a very young age. He had his eyes “fixed” last year, but he’s an anxious little cat and very jumpy. He’s getting used to the new sights and sounds, but he hasn’t eaten much and spends most of his time in the hollow under my couch when not demanding cuddles. I wasn’t really ready for this, but I promised my mom long ago that I would take him in after Didymus passed (he wasn’t open to sharing his space, so I couldn’t do it earlier). There’s a lot of post traumatic stress to deal with, I just hope little Cara acclimates enough to start eating and drinking.

grieving the loss of a cat

This morning, I lost my Didymus the Cat.

Didymus was the only surviving kitten in a litter of five (I like to think he’s the one looking back, but he could be the one firmly attached at the front–he was a voracious eater).

It was a litter of outdoor kitties and his siblings didn’t make it. I won’t go into details but it was a case of cruelty involving minors so there was no justice in the end. Didymus was 5 weeks old when he appeared in our garden, hungry and scared, but alive.

We weren’t allowed to have pets in our apartment, but I begged and pleaded to keep him until my mom let me have my way. I said I would find him a home and I did–with me. He was a funny little cat from the start and enjoyed being carried so much he learned to lift his front legs into the air whenever he wanted to be picked up.

His markings became darker with age, until he was mostly gray and black with a white belly.

And he always had the most amazing blue eyes.

He was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma after I discovered a strange lump on his shoulder. He underwent surgery in February, but the bump was back within two months. The vet wanted to try again, but I refused. I knew it was a terminal illness and that it was progressing too fast to have any real hope of long-term recovery. I made the decision to watch and wait. His quality of life started to take a turn for the worse on Tuesday evening. It was getting harder for him to walk and lifting his head to eat was becoming difficult but he was still eating. Last night it was nearly impossible to get him to take more than a few licks of the moistened food and the only thing I could get him to take was a spoonful of yogurt. I knew that I was only prolonging his suffering so I asked my mom to take him in to the vet to see if there were any other options for palliative care, but there were none. I knew it was time to let go. I wasn’t there when it happened. I felt obliged to go to work for a meeting and because I needed to take care of business before going on vacation; I drove as fast as I could, but I couldn’t be there in the end.

I keep thinking he’s just around the corner every time I walk into the living room, plopped across one of his many blankets. It’s going to be hard to put his things away. There will never be another cat like him, though there will be others. The pain of losing a pet is real, but it would be more painful to not experience the love they bring.

I said goodbye to him this morning and he work me with a happy little mreow this morning. This is the last picture I have of him. I took it when he came to wake me at 6:30 am. I was surprised that he was able to make it to my room, he was that tired, but I was grateful to see his little face at my bedside one last time.

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A Remembrance

After battling a rare form of cancer, my grandfather passed away on Wednesday evening at 10:59 pm. I was with him when he passed and, though it was difficult to watch him struggle in the hours before, I felt that his passing was peaceful and easy. In those last 20 minutes, he just settled. It was like falling asleep; he stopped gasping for air, his breathing returned to a natural, steady rhythm, and then he was gone. It was that smooth.

Though the loss is painful, I was glad that it happened so easily. I didn’t want him to be in pain any longer and I like to think that in those minutes he was at ease. He was not a perfect man, but he was loving and caring and he was a stubborn old goat who had a gift for opening up and telling stories no matter who was listening. I didn’t see him often enough, but in the last two years I lived closer to his home and was able to spend more time with him on the weekends. Though we had our differences when it came to certain beliefs, he always believed in me and made sure I knew it. I said goodbye to him on Saturday when I stopped by his place to pick up my aunt before taking her to the airport, and that was the last time I heard his voice.

He never gave me presents because he was a practical man and figured money was a better gift than an object, so I have few things to remember him by–an antique bracelet he found at a garage sale a couple of years ago, an old shoeshine box that he found and knew I would like (we shared a love interesting of wooden boxes), and an old hammer with three mismatched screwdrivers, things he knew I would need when he wouldn’t be there to help. Then there are the plants–my whole garden came from his, a living tribute that I have been worrying over for the last year and a half as the harsh, unpredictable weather tries to beat my efforts.

He uprooted his life and left his homeland to escape communism. He watched his family grow. And he made sure we were always looked after. When I had to have emergency surgery three years ago, he was the one who watched over me while my mom was at work, and when I moved out, he was the first to come inspect the place. When I met Edward, he was one of the first to approve, and when I graduated and became a librarian, he made sure I knew he was proud.

I have few pictures of us together because I was often the one behind the camera, but last Christmas I made sure to take one where we were together. However, my favorite pictures will always be those that my mom brought with her from Cuba, the ones where he looks like an old time movie star, and this one where he’s doing what he loved best–climbing and fixing things:

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getting there

Just managing to stay positive during this whole ordeal. Mostly trying to keep my mom from feeling too down, so I have to be the voice of reason more often than not. Bchan has been wonderful and I hope he knows it (yes, I know you’re there lurker boy). Not sure how I would’ve pulled through this weekend if he hadn’t been there to cheer me up and distract me.