Gadora’s been making a good go of a great opportunity here in Austin — full-time work is hard, y’all — and sadly it has carved a little into some of my creative mojo at home. While I’m grateful to be exercising certain talents by designing the office’s downstairs lounge, and am proud of our big win at Lifeworks’ recent Home Improvement Challenge (story forthcoming), I find I miss writing. And certainly miss sweating in the shop every day.
I still manage the time to remember cantankerous Harley and the sweetest Peepers. 6 months later, I wrestle with knowing I did the right thing for them. Recently I snugged up on a spunky kitten, and then a perfectly healthy and quite OLD cat, and can’t help but feel We. Got. Robbed. They were supposed to live forever. My cousin is having a hard time with her 16-year-old Schnauzer. Bridgette is her only baby. And they’re dealing with aggressive melanoma. They still have time. My Cuz is relishing it, texted tonight to say Bridgette was enjoying the freedom of her new du. While it wouldn’t make her feel better, I admitted “it” doesn’t get easier once they’re gone. I wholeheartedly understand her. The loss of a pet is quite possibly the most difficult thing a (human) childless parent will face. You are NEVER prepared.
One never knows when the need to deal with a loss that big will come creeping up on you. In fact, I ruined a perfectly lovely concert at Austin’s recent ACL when Dawe’s belted out “When My Time Comes.” The crowd sang. I did too. But I also cried. Harley hated that song. Well, maybe not the song so much as mine and the BFF’s rendition (we’re not about to try out for American Idol anytime soon). He’d follow us around the house and lunge for the jugular, or ankles, whatevs. Dawes was on the docket, and I knew they’d play it for us. I had to hear it. As if I needed a good excuse to cry in public, I relished this one.
Could be wrong here, but haven’t run across many folks who share songs with their cats. Sure, there’s the story of the dog who goes bonkers when a certain tune plays. But cats? I’m going to pretend that’s unique to My Harley and myself.
Minnesota Public Radio gave me DAWES via iTunes. And I ❤ it. Gadora has it looped and I’ve recently heard it out and about. Me likes. It’d come up in my queue and I’d belt out the chorus, then realized Harley didn’t like it so much. (It’s much better left to the professionals!)
When Harley was around, I especially liked singing it off-key (totally on purpose… right…), which got him utterly riled up. Cranky Pants would hop up and click his claws all over the house, following the deafening pitch. And just for him the BFF and I would sing it ALL OVER THE HOUSE.
It’s all so fresh. I try to keep a good poker face Mister, but sometimes it just isn’t possible. Last week, while pretending to feel normal at work, I talked about you. Later with the girls, I rambled a bit more. I will forever wonder if I did the right thing. Three days after you were gone I patted down the bed waiting for you to hop up, I forgot for a moment you wouldn’t be joining me. And I cried some more. I cried a lot that night.
We tried everything we could Harley. I solicited the best help I could find us. How could I fix you? How would I entice you to eat? I cradled you and smooched on you and hugged you until the moment the Vet came in to administer our Good Bye. It took less than 7 seconds. Seventeen years of life were over in 7 teensy~tiny seconds. Or sooner, I don’t even know now. You were peaceful in my arms Harley and we did it, you and I. Alone. Afterwards I panicked silently for a second while I stared at your sweet quiet face, Wait. Wait! WAIT! Surely we can fix you. I made a mistake! And that is the thing I will have to live with until this becomes easier to bear. As if….
What an impact you have made on my life.
You. Are. Missed.
* Harley and Sensi shared some floor space, years ago in our Las Vegas home, in hopes of some bonito flakes. Harley’s temperament changes from snappy to happy (turn up the volume!) with a couple crinkles of the bag.
How does one show proper reverence for the fuzzy Lil Man who gave me utter joy for SEVENTEEN years? Simple. I don’t. But I’ve found (more than) 17 ways to say I love him.
He was a gift from a long-ago love. Delivered in a cardboard box he was quite icky: flea-ridden, with crusty eyes, malnourished and wasn’t all that handsome. “Why THIS cat?” “I knew you could fix him,” he offered. In truth Harley fixed me. It would be two weeks until he was entirely settled and earned his name: Harley. My orange kitty, with bad attitude, and quite a motor.
17. From the beginning he loved cotton socks. Carried rolled-up human-sized socks entirely bigger than he, until I found a suitable feline-sized offering filled with catnip (that’s the 3rd incarnation under his jaw). With sock in mouth, he’d howl like mad, often at all hours. Sometimes he’d just nestle them.
16. I could stare at him for hours. Sometimes he was all the entertainment I hoped for. He’d yawn. He’d sleep. He’d eat. He’d groom himself. I’d watch, falling deeper in love with him with each and every day. It bothers me none that a perception may exist that I’m a crazy cat lady. I was indeed crazy about This Pooh.
15. Early on he earned a snarly reputation at the Vet*. In all our 17 and a half years, there were only 3 who could properly handle him. When I had him declawed (I’ve since learned that’s not so nice), he chewed the glue that kept his perfectly pink pads together. Once healed, they were given innumerable kisses for his whole entire life. He kind of hated that. Later on the wooden floor the ticking of his gnarly back claws announced his every move.
*He actually was quite snarly most of the time, except around me. He was a Mama’s Boy.
The loss of one pet—who has been around for 15 years—is difficult enough.
But my 17-year-old Harley is ailing too. In the past week, while I’ve been dealing with excruciatingly tough decisions and then the loss of Peepers, I’ve taken Harley to the Vet THREE times. Each time he lets me pick his frail body up and snug him in his carrier. This is so atypical. Years ago a Benbrook, TX Vet said, “Whew, that Harley is the cat from hell.” Waaah? My Boy? (Thursday I secretly smiled inside when Dr. Grimm at Great Oaks Animal Hospital said he indeed turned quite cranky once she drew fluid from his lungs.)
I’m trying really hard to make the right decision for My Boy. Really trying. Where Peepers was a lover, Harley is a FIGHTER. And I’ve asked my Vet to be very frank with me. If we have done what we can, and we know Harley will suffer… I am going to prepare myself for another difficult decision. He just needs to eat. And poo. And it will make it easier to manage his failing heart.
I hurt for him. But under my compassionate Vet’s guidance, who is not giving up on him, I cannot either.