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Friday, July 24, 2015

Storm



I debated whether or not to write this post and as I write it, I’m still not sure about it. My cat, Storm, passed away this week (7/22). She was old (18) but she was spunky and still full of energy.  Before I left the house Wednesday morning, we went through our normal morning routine. She woke me up everyday for breakfast and then followed me around as I went through the normal motions. She hopped up on the counter to drink from the faucet and trailed me downstairs as I was leaving. She was perfectly fine. In fact, she was fresh off of vacation with us where everyone was surprised and pleased with how much energy she had.

Imagine my shock when Ash called to tell me he got home and found her struggling to breathe. He rushed her to the vet (and then to an emergency vet when the first place wouldn’t see her without appointment--don’t get me started on that piece).  I got in the car to rush there myself and as I sat in traffic, Ash and the vet called to say she’d stopped breathing and her heart stopped.

I asked them to give her CPR and continued my drive, devastated. Twenty minutes later, they called me back to say her heart briefly started again but then stopped again. They would wait for me to come in and fill out forms before taking any other steps.

I pulled up to the vet with a sense of emptiness. She’d been my baby since my teen years. I couldn’t fathom that she was gone. I walked in and the vet greeted me with news that her heart restarted but that she was barely holding on. I went in to see her holding on to a bit of hope but when I saw her laying there—essentially lifeless—that drained out of me. They unhooked her and let me hold her, which I did until her heart stopped and she drew her last breath.

It was a horrible moment for me. We filled out the necessary paperwork, made decisions about cremation and went home. I got there and the silence pressed down on me. Her things were there but she wasn’t. Even Lola (our puppy) quietly approached and just cuddled up through my intermittent moments of crying. The next day after Ash cleared her things out (at my request), I was even more distraught. The empty place where her house was, the empty corner of the ottoman she loved to lounge on, the absence of her food and water bowl…it just all took my breath away and led to another sobbing session.

Some might say we were on borrowed time with Storm. I mean, she was 18. Truthfully, 2 years ago, a vet told me she had 4-6 weeks to live after I took her in for throwing up. He couldn't tell me why. He just said, she'd old. She probably has cancer. Two years later, she seemed to have more energy than she did in her younger years. So it never felt like
borrowed time. 

Ash and I are dealing with things differently. He was there to see her scared and panicked and is a bit traumatized by it. He feels like he should have been able to do something. I’m dealing with not being there to comfort her while she was scared.

It all brings up a weird thing for me. When I was young, I sympathized for people who lost pets but I never really got it. As much as I love my pets, I imagined I’d be a little sad but would be ok. I mean, animals live relatively short lives. It’s a known thing. Over the years though, they’ve come to represent something else to me. They are a constant and they love unconditionally. Through my illnesses and changed life plans, they took on more significance. The cuddling meant more while I was bed ridden—if that makes sense.

I don’t expect non-pet lovers to understand—nor do I need it. I just needed to put out there that my little Storm will be missed. She was in my life against all odds. I was dropping off donations to an animal shelter in connection with some work I had to do for honor society. As I helped the manager bring the supplies in, I passed the cat cage and Storm was the only cat left. She was tiny and jet black and just started at me. The manager asked if I’d consider adopting her as she was coming close to the euthanasia period. She said she wasn’t getting adopted because she was the runt of the litter and people are leery of black cats.
I don’t believe in superstition and even though I wasn’t a cat person (and wasn’t supposed to have pet in the on-campus housing I lived in), I couldn’t imagine the tiny little thing getting killed. I took her. As I filled out the adoption paperwork, she pooped in the mail tray on top of the manager’s desk.

I giggled and thought, at least she’s litter trained. I took her home and headed out for supplies. She’s been with me ever since.  I love her for all of the terrible boyfriends she hissed at, the ankles she nibbled and cords she destroyed in her youth, the nuzzles and purrs when I was bedridden and the eventual acceptance of Lola. I miss her today and I’m sure there will always be a little twinge of sorrow every time I wake up and she’s not there nudging me or licking my arm to let me know she’s ready for breakfast.  Rest in peace,” Storm-baby.” I’ll never forget you.



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