Two years on

It’s two years to the day since I had to say goodbye to the last of my kitties, Her Royal Furryness, Cassie. I didn’t think it would be this long and that I still wouldn’t have taken in a new cat or two. Since I lost her while dad was very ill and waiting on his operation I couldn’t even think about that, and when that went so badly and the short hospital stay turned into months, then months more helping him recuperate (thankfully all of that time was rewarded, I am glad to say) of course I couldn’t think about visiting the shelters to see about giving another cat a home, then for the last year once things were better on that front the financial front just got increasingly bad, going from strained, to bad to downright desperate, through no fault of my own. Finally, very, very slowly recovering from that but still too tight to think about added expenses that come with looking after animals. I lost Pandora, then Dizzy, and then only a year and a half later, Cassie, and it has been emotionally quiet hard, especially after so much stress and strain (amazing how much our furry friends help our state of mind and emotions, even in the hard times) and I still find it odd living in a home with no cats ruling the roost, and really didn’t think I’d have to wait this long. Galling not to be able to just do it, especially knowing the rescue shelters are full of animals who desperately need a new home, and I need some to make my flat back into a home.

Of course, part of me feels ambivalent about it, because even when I do bring new cats home – and I will, eventually – they won’t be my girls. It took years – a lifetime – for us to bond the way we did, I knew all of their little character foibles (and they are so individual) and equally they knew all of mine, we meshed, they had me trained, Cassie especially could tell me with one mieow and a little look or gesture what she wanted, they could tell what I was up to, like seeing me go to brush my teeth at night meant bedtime coming and they’d relocate themselves to the bedroom, making themselves comfortable and waiting for me to come through. And of course different kitties will behave differently – not only does it take time to bond and get used to each other, it will never be the same because the new cats will have their own personalities, they won’t be the girls, they will be themselves. But I also know when I can go to the rescue shelters and I see some of them I will forget the differences and melt and it wouldn’t take long for them to adapt to their new home and train me to their liking, as cats are wont to do. We’ll just have to see, it certainly won’t be this year, sadly, have decided I won’t actively look for new kitties till next year at least, if someone I knew locally had one needing rehomed or their cat was having a litter and they needed homes for the kittens I’d maybe do it earlier, but I won’t actively go looking for a good while yet.

Meanwhile I just miss having my lovely girls bringing the flat to life and making it feel like an actual home rather than just a place I live.

Five years on

me and mum and dad at NMS

It’s five years to the day since my mum was suddenly ripped away from us, just like that, literally overnight. Day before planning holidays with dad, buying new luggage, looking forward to the break, the two of them about to enjoy their retirement together. Next day (or more accurately the small, dark hours of the night) and our world was pulled down around us shattering dad and I. I find it so hard to believe it is five years since I heard my mum’s voice, held her hand, had a kiss and a hug. Time heals all, as the dreadfully banal and bloody meaningless phrase goes. No, it doesn’t, not even close. You don’t get over events like that, ever. You try and get on, every day life – work, bills, illnesses – distract, friends help, my darling kitties were a great morale booster for me when I was in the dark places (alas no more though, all gone too), but it is always at the back of your mind, every single day and always will be.

Been home spending the day with my dear old dad, we took flowers up to mum’s grave, very upsetting for both of us, but we perked up later in the day then on the way to drop me off at the station to go home we visited my cousin’s home deliver chocolate eggs for his adorable girls, and we got plenty of hugs from them and lovely wee handmade Easter cards from the eldest and I felt much better.

Sadly some of that better mood evaporated just five minutes from home when three very young women stopped me in the street wanting to ask me something. I paused assuming they needed directions somewhere but oh no, it was the God-botherer squad asking me about coming to their meeting to accept the love of Jesus into my life. I said no rather curtly and tried to move on only to have them ask again – these idiots are so blinded by how right they and their mission is they can’t accept a no or leave alone (indeed so arrogant they assume it is fine to go up to total strangers about such matters). And my patience snapped and I rounded on them, told them I had just returned from laying flowers on my mother’s grave on the fifth anniversary of her being suddenly taken from us, that she was a believer but their bloody god didn’t seem to care about taking her before her time, so frankly their god, if by some incredibly unlikely eventually he did exist, can kiss my arse because he is clearly a swine and no friend to me.

They started with sorry and we didn’t know sort of lines missing the point – they stop complete strangers in the street and they don’t know what is in that person’s head, they could be approaching someone who is grieving deeply, someone who is devoutly Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or any other faith who would be deeply offended by some 19 year old smilingly telling them why they know better than they what they should believe, they could even be stopping someone who has been abused by a member of the clergy (certainly enough of those) and for whom religious questions bring up dreadful memories. And yet they are so blindly arrogant in their belief and how right they are and that they should tell everyone else that they stop us in the street and even come round uninvited to our homes. I saw them return to the American style church that set near me a few years back, I’ve had these arrogant sods round knocking on all the doors in our blocks with this nonsense too and it never occurs to them they may be wrong, that someone else may know their own mind better. I don’t go into their gathering place to explain why I think their beliefs are silly, or point out that a little historical reading shows many components of their ‘word of god’ were borrowed from other, much older belief systems and that other parts of this supposedly sacred text were edited out in early church history so how can you trust any of it? No, I leave them to it, it’s their lives and beliefs, I have no problem with them pursuing it, but I do object to this blind arrogance that compels them to keep trying to tell others – uninvited and unwanted, I should add – that they should be believing as they.

Normally I just walk away from such idiots, but when they wouldn’t accept no I really couldn’t hold my tongue and frankly I think they deserve someone they stop asking them where the hell their god was when my mum needed him? And unlike me she did believe. Maybe they should consider why good, loving people get taken too early and uncaring, vile people get to live to a ripe old age so often, instead of just spouting what they have been told without actually considering it properly. Then again these evangelicals aren’t much on questioning… I object to these people stopping me in the streets of my own neighbourhood or coming around uninvited to my front door at any time, but today of all days I was in no mood for their unthinking, self righteous fairy tale nonsense. Perhaps those girls will think twice next time they approach someone – should we do it, we don’t know what that person is going through, perhaps we might upset them rather than help them – but I fear they won’t, because they are so sure they are on a sacred mission. And anything they do for that mission that upsets others as they upset me at a very emotional time is okay, they will be forgiven because it was for the Good and therefore they bear no moral responsibility for it.

I did feel like saying this is Easter so why doesn’t your god perform the resurrection miracle once more and give me back my mother, knowing they have no answer to that, but I was tired and upset by them by then and instead I just walked away.

That evil day

Sad to say but today marks the third anniversary of my wonderful mum being so suddenly ripped away from us, just like that. How can it be three years already? How can you have been gone three year, mum? I’ve been doing my best to try not to dwell on it all day, not helped by losing my lovely wee Dizzy cat earlier just this week and my gorgeous big Pandora puss a few weeks back – my furry girls have been a very important part in keeping me going and keeping my morale up since this vile day burned itself into my life and twisted the way I view the world ever after and losing them just makes it that bit harder to deal with it. If indeed you ever really do deal with this kind of thing, I don’t think most of us do, we get buried into the complexities of everyday life so it lies at the back of our minds rather than dominating it as it did when fresh, but we never really deal with, never really accept it.

Dad was through with my Uncle Evan today, they often make use of their free bus passes to go galavanting around Scotland each week so today they came through to Edinburgh and as it was windy and rainy we went off to go around the National Museum of Scotland – amazingly my uncle had never been to it. As luck would have it we caught the last few days of the Lighthouses exhibition they had on – I had been meaning to go along to it for ages and clean forgot about it with recent events, so it was good to catch it before it ended, fascinating history. Among the exhibits were several huge Fresnel lenses, which have always fascinated me since I was a boy (and indeed lighthouses too, always amazed me how they could build such things in the teeth of huge waves and storms), beautiful engineering in light and glass to pierce the dark night. I think it did dad and I both good to be out and about on this day, helped us a bit and hey, I even got an interesting photo out of it – if you look closely you can even see both me and dad reflected in this gigantic representation of the prism:

reflections and refractions 01

My darling Dizzy

MultiDizzy

Mel just called me to tell me that we lost our gorgeous wee Dizzy, the precious, petite puss, with her huge, shining eyes, tiny, almost kitten like build and lovely, soft grey and white fur. I know she was 17, a good age for a kitty, but she was so petite and still so lively and perky that many people first seeing her assumed she was just a year or two old and not full grown. She’s been a part of our life since she was just a few weeks old, a tiny little kitten, back in our student flat days; afterwards she lived with Melanie near my flat so I was round regularly and looked after her all the time. Unlike my big cuddlepuss Pandora she didn’t really care for being picked up, although she always let me do so, picking her tiny, light body up so she could then drape herself over my shoulder and around my neck, like me wee furry, warm scarf, and she would then purr that hugely loud outboard motor purr right into my ear, utterly content because she knew she was loved and adored. Maybe she wasn’t mad on most people picking her up, but she always let me, she was my special wee girl.

Skateboarding Kitty 2

We lost her big brother Zag several years ago to an evil motorist who never even stopped and of course it’s even harder for me to accept losing her just a few short weeks since I lost my wonderful Pandora. The fact that it comes on the same week that sees the third anniversary of losing my mum so suddenly (this Thursday marks that evil day) doesn’t help my frame of mind much either, as you can imagine. Not that I am equating them, but emotional loss is an emotional loss and they all hurt. Pandora, Dizzy and Cassie have all been so important in keeping up my morale since losing mum – no matter how much you are hurting it is always a bit better with a warm, purring kitty snuggled up against you. It’s horrible to realise I’ll never have her draping her tiny body over my shoulder again or using my legs as her personal pillow. You made us so very happy, little darling, I hope you’re curled up now against your cuddly cousin Pandora wherever you went to. You were so tiny but you leave such a huge hole in our lives.

Dizzy in the tulips 2
(I shot so many photographs of Dizzy over the years, she was so beautiful and so photogenic, her pictures have been admired so often on my Flickr, but I think this one is one of my all-time favourites, her with the flowers and the look on her face that clearly says she knows she is more beautiful than the flowers or anything else)

tired of reading

Dizzy monochrome 2

me and Dizzy 3

Dizzy and her cushion 1
(I took a picture of Dizzy dozing on a blanket in the garden and had it printed onto a cushion as a present for Mel; for months I waited for her to lie down on the sofa next to it so I could get her in the same shot as the cushion with her own pic on it and finally I got it)

Goodnight, my sweet girl

It’s been a very rough couple of days for me and my Cassie cat. Towards the end of last week I thought her sister, my gorgeous big Pandora puss, was acting a bit out of sorts. At the start of the week she was acting as normal, jumping up on the bed for a nap, happily munching some sliced chicken. Towards the end of the week I thought she was seeming a bit off her game, a bit lethargic maybe, still eating, not being sick or anything, wasn’t sure if she was just having a couple of off days or if it might be something more and I was thinking okay, next week we better get a vet’s appointment for you to be on the safe side. On Saturday she seemed a bit more off, atlhough still eating, still ambling around the flat and even jumping up into my recently vacated seat to steal it. Well, actually not to steal it, when Pandora grabs your seat when you move she isn’t actually stealing it, what she really wants is for you to sit next to her and snuggle with her.

Pandora on the rug 1

But then came Sunday morning. Cassie woke me with alarmed mieows and as soon as I sat up in bed I thought she was trying to alert me to something and right away thought Pandora. Then I heard a terrible whimper from under the bed and Pandora was there, had come through at some point during the night and curled up underneath the bed as I slept – not unusual for her, the girls long ago claimed an old suede suitcase under the bed as a kind of kitty hammock for their Secret Dark Hidey Hole Spot. But she was barely moving, I had to pull the case out to get her, she couldn’t move out herself. I picked her up and she was limp in my arms, head lolling and panicking carried her through to the living room and gently lay her down on the sofa. She couldn’t even move her head or paws enough to make herself comfortable and I had to arrange them for her. I couldn’t believe how much she had faded since bedtime last night and was terrified she was dying on me right there. Phoned the vet and got the emergency weekend number which turned out to be in a surgery on the far side of town, but luckily my friend Gordon came right round with his car and drove us up. Poor Pandora was so limp it was hard to get her in the travel box and at the vet we had to tilt it and gently slide her out, she just lay there not moving.

After a lot of checks the vet told me her temperature was dreadfully low, barely above the bare minumum for a living cat, her blood circulation was poor although her heart was beating strongly and she was dehydrated even though I had seen her drinking water and kitty milk. They put her on drips to get her hydration and blood sugar back to normal and put her into an incubator to warm her and told me to phone in a few hours. I went home worried sick but when I called later they said she was responding to treatment, but it was as well we came when we did, she had been only an hour or so from slipping into a coma then death. Thank goodness for Cassie waking me to help her sister, or else I might have found her later in the morning already gone and that would have been even harder. She said we’ll keep her going on this and keep her overnight, get her tomorrow all being well and take her to your normal vet. Call back in the evening she said. I did and she was now keeping her temperature herself without the incubator and fluid and sugar levels returning to normal, but her eyesight was gone, but the vet said this was because of the sudden low sugar and hydration levels and should return in a day or two as she stabilised. But they still didn’t know what caused it, although she noticed a lump under her ribs in front of her heart, but she thought that was something to check later. So I called Gordon to say we’d get her back in the morning as he has already kindly said he’d give me a lift again. And I had gone from thinking I was losing her in the morning to thinking great, get her home tomorrow, more to check out but she’s doing okay and coming home.

Pandora closeup 02

Pandora yawns
(I was trying to get a close-up of Pandora when she opened her mouth in this jaw-stretching yawn!)

Then the vet called again. A complication, that lumps was full of fluid and the drip she was on was making it worse, they would have to stop or she’d suffocate from it, but if they stopped she would slowly slip back in her weakened state to the coma like state she was in when I found her. Either way she was going to decline slowly during the night and she would begin to suffer as she did. We have to think what’s best for Pandora, the vet told me, which was a gentle way of telling me I had to let her be put to sleep to spare her suffering. Thank god Gordon didn’t mind being dragged back out late on a wet, dark Sunday night and drove me back there so I could be with my gorgeous girl for a little while. Her sight was still wonky but she knew it was me holding her, talking to her, stroking her and I could hear her purr so very quietly. Then it was time and they made her sleep so she wouldn’t feel the final injection. I held her and stroked her lovely, autumn coloured fur until her heart stopped and my adorable Pandora was gone. The vet was very nice and left me with her for a little while. She looked like she was sleeping on her little rug and I felt so guilty having to leave her there, even though I knew it wasn’t her any longer. And I felt so guilty at signing the form to let them put her to sleep, even though I knew it was the only mercy I could give to her and was the right thing to do. God knows how anyone ever makes a decision like switching off life support for their human family members, it’s agonising enough with your beloved cat.

Been off the last couple of days and feel shattered, all happened so fast and I can’t quite process that my gorgeous, lovely, warm kitty of over 13 years has been taken away and I never get to see her again. When I don’t see her here I keep thinking she must be sleeping on the bed in the other room and expect to see her come trotting through to the living room at any moment. Then I remember and realise that will never happen again and it’s awful. Pandora is such a huge, huggy puss – she loves being picked up, lies back in your arms like a big furry baby purring against your arms. Sometimes when I held her like that she would raise one of her enormous creamy white paws and gently pat my face. Adorable. Every night when I came home she would wait patiently for me to pick her up like that and cuddle her. I never met a cat so damned cuddly, I am sure she must have been a teddy bear in a former life. No matter how bad a day I had I came home to a big Pandora hug and I felt better. Even in the dark days after we lost mum so suddenly both my girls made me feel better. And now I’ll never come home to my little darling ever again and that’s awful.

pandora 2
(those big, shiny eyes, those gorgeous colours like an autumn forest. And those huge white paws. As soon as I brought her home as a kitten I saw those paws and knew she would grow into a huge puss. And she did. A huge and cuddly puss)

Not slept much last couple of night, Cassie normally curls up with me at night, but she is curling up for a while then she goes off round the flat mieowing and looking for Pandora, then comes back to me in bed, then goes looking again. During the day she’s been snuggling up to me all the time except when she goes looking for her sister again. She doesn’t understand what happened, but she knows Pandora is gone and that something bad happened and she’s clearly distressed. I worry about Cassie, she’s never been alone in her life, never been parted from her sister. I brought them home as 10 week old kittens from the cat shelter years ago, they were so small they could fit in your hand and I loved them right away. The cats made the flat into a real home, not just a place to live, but a warm, living, welcoming place;’ they’re not pets, they’re companions, friends, family, your girls. And believe me, when you live by yourself they are such a hugely important part of your emotional life support. The girls and dad have been what kept me going since we lost mum and I’ve been dreadfully afraid of this kind of thing happening as they got older. You know when you have pets one day this will happen, you trade the many good days and years off against the bad days when you lose them. And painful as that is, a pain that goes into your heart and soul, it is still worth it for the brightness they bring into our lives.

Pandora and Cassie on bed
(Pandora with her sister Cassie lying behind her,she liked lying on the end of the bed, big paws out in front like a Sphinx. Some nights she would lie there while I slept, as if she was keeping guard so no bad dreams could get to me)

Goodnight my adorable Pandora, you made me happy, you made me smile even when I was miserable and in pain like I had never known before, you snuggled up to me and purred against me, you made me laugh as you played with the ball of wool. You brought life and love and warmth into my life and made the flat a home along with your dear sister. It’s only been two days and already I miss you dreadfully and so does your little sister. I don’t know where we go when it ends and I don’t believe the fairy tales of any religion, but it’s also hard to believe we just stop. If we go somewhere afterwards then mum, please look out for my wee girl, she’ll be lost and wondering where I am. She loves to be held and stroked, please look after her and love her for me. Goodnight, my gorgeous girl, I love you and life is so much darker without your light beside me.

Pandora in slatted sunlight