Lost Weekend

“So…..you’ve been busy.”

(One of my favorite i.m. messages from a friend who’s been keeping up with my primarily through the blog.)

A few days before Thanksgiving, I took our tortoiseshell cat, Maggie, to the vet. She’d clearly lost weight and was in general just not acting like herself. Dehydration was immediately pronounced and she was pumped full of water, but a series of tests turned up nothing – at least, nothing easy to fix. Bloodwork revealed no unusual counts to explain things, x-rays turned up nothing but an enlarged rib cage. At this point, nearly $500 in and with no insurance, and, as faithful readers will know, some unusual expenses coming up, I’d about hit the limit on what I could afford. I crossed my fingers that the appetite stimulant would work, and brought Maggie home.

Well, it did – but only for a few days. As the Thanksgiving weekend ended, so did Maggie’s comeback. Over the last week, I’ve sat next to her trying to get her to eat anything: fancy cat food, tuna, both of the above ground up in the blender and available either in a bowl or via syringe, special adult cat milk. Aside from drinking out of the new cat water fountain (I highly recommend these, cats love them and I’m hoping they’ll keep Mabel, the other cat who never met a food she didn’t like, healthier), Maggie’s living up to her supermodel-in-a-former-life status, something that the Eldest decided since she’s beautiful, neurotic, and used to throw up a lot. I never thought I’d get to a point where I was nostalgic to clean up cat barf. Life surprises you in the damndest ways.

By Friday, I knew there was really no hope left. I had to have the talk with the Youngest over the weekend. I’m glad he and I are alone, because he’s been fairly devastated; sometimes, you just need to be alone with your mom and cry. We have spent some hours cuddled up on the couch, and it’s been much harder for both of us than I ever dreamed. What has helped us both is a note from a good friend and true cat lover, who talked about when the light in a cat’s eyes goes out, you need to make the tough call. Maggie’s eyes are indeed at a very low light. She’s unresponsive, doesn’t purr (tortoiseshells are second only to Siamese cats in their nuclear-reactor purring, which you can hear in the next room), and as the Youngest pointed out, if we ran the vacuum cleaner, she wouldn’t even start. Amazingly, even yesterday, she managed to jump onto a chair before curling up in a ball and sleeping.

Right at the moment, I can’t find her. It’s my project as soon as I hit “publish.” We’ve said our goodbyes. Nothing remains but the technicality.

The timing of this death with the end of the DP/NB franchise is difficult, but sadly apt. Despite a few initial sledgehammer blows, the dismantling of our union has been fairly painstaking. For all of our sakes, he and I have forgone TNT blasts and are carefully working our way through the process, unscrewing one nut and bolt at a time.

Like Maggie’s death, it is a difficult but necessary process. It’s time. There are plenty of great things to look back on. A year from now, as my friend said, things are going to be so much better. For now, it’s the season to cry.

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