couldn’t do it.

i couldn’t put her down. i woke up this morning and prepared for it. the vet called me back with an appointment time. i called my mom to make sure sugar was still alive and how the night went. and something about the way she was talking, i just knew it wasn’t gonna happen.

my mom takes a passive stance on death, she refuses to make the big decisions. but if you listen you can hear her point. it became clear to me that what she wanted was to take care of sugar until it’s her time. masked in “it’s up to you”s and ideas about how maybe God will take them at the right time… but this, combined with how peaceful sugar is… i just couldn’t do it.

she is weak, she is tired. she can’t move very much, but she still sashays her tail around when you talk. she responds to noise. she doesn’t appear agitated or labored. her breathing is slow and deep. all her life she has been anxious and tense when you hold her, but now she just lays comfortably. and she lets you know when a position change is in order.

maybe it’s these vegan documentaries i’m watching, thinking about peaceful cohabitation with animals, and the cruelty that they sometimes see. it’s definitely that she looks peaceful. and it’s for sure about bearing witness to the experience of watching my aunt and Grama die. i know now that if someone is going to die, they will die in their own time. sometimes it’s about coming to terms with life, or death, or spirituality, or relationships. i don’t know. ever mysterious. i understand the humane aspect of putting an animal down that is suffering. i’ve done it before. but she appears so peaceful that i just don’t think i can interrupt her dying process.

is that weird?

i’m a different person now. death demands my attention, my patience, my respect.

so take your time, sugs.

baby sugar

baby sugar

sugar

i got my very first cat on my own when i was 21 and living in a house with 5 rotating roommates.  she was all white and half persian, found through a co-worker at the answering service.  yes, telephone answering service.  what a relic.  i intended to get a boy, i never had a girl cat growing up.  but when i went to look at the 4 all white kittens, the boy had a crooked tale and this little girl was perfect.  i took her home and didn’t name her right away, it took a few days.  i was reading a book, something toni morrison i think, and read a line about brown sugar.  sugar!  and that was her name.

dainty, lovely, perfect sized, beautiful, aloof, my little princess.  she was a feisty little thing as a kitten.  i let her be an outdoor cat, though the regret came quick – she got into a fight with some kind of animal and came in with her cheek bitten and beginning to swell.  i didn’t know if she’d make it.  but anti-biotics and my roommate shari’s willingness to drain her puffy cheek by hand got her through.  she had more adventures – getting stuck on a rooftop across the street, dropping dead mice at the doorstep, and general tough outside kittie cat business.  she always lived with one or two other cats, so she was never lonely, but very private.  she’d only really allow me to pet her when i shut my bedroom door and no other cats or people could interrupt.  when i moved to an apartment facing a busy street, she lost interest in going outside.  she’s been an indoor cat ever since.

when i got my first studio apartment, living alone for the first time, it was just her and i.  she got very needy!  in addition i was doing full time day school and ft night restaurant/bar work.  i wasn’t home too much and she was demanding.  one january when i took a vacation, i brought her over to my mom’s to be catsat.  when i came to get her she hid from me.  i tried a couple of other times, and gave up easily because i really didn’t have the energy to be a good mama at that point in my life.  i was overcome with guilt for a long time after that, and my mom’s style of passive aggressive cat narrative didn’t help.  i came to terms with giving her up when in 2007, i catsat for a friend who was going to europe.  she eventually let me keep her 2 cats and i was thrilled.  sometimes cats need a new home for unordinary reasons.  so technically, today, i  have 3 cats.  louie and mazzy live with me, and sugar lives with my mom, stepdad, and sister.  they have spoiled her rotten, giving her and spunky (their other cat) treats every night, canned food on a regular basis, and constant supply of water with rocks (ice water), which she entitledly dips her paw into and with much grace, licks off to her liking.

but today will be the last day i have 3 cats.  if she doesn’t die tonight, i’m gonna put her down in the morning.  i’m pretty fucking sad.

she’s been losing weight for about a year, but things  have gone downhill quickly in the past few weeks.  she’s scrawny now, i can’t imagine that she weights more than a couple pounds.  she’s listless and weak, but still perks up sometimes.  i had planned to put her down when she stopped eating but in talking about it as a family it just didn’t seem right yesterday when she was still attentive.  but she’s 15 years old.  all our cats have died of old age and kidney failure, and this looks terribly familiar.

what i told my sister the other day was that it’s both good and bad that i just experienced 2 significant people deaths in my family.  both of them begged to be put down, but they were in pain.  sugar doesn’t look like she’s in pain, but she’s losing all muscle control and it’s just sad.  i think when she was wobbly but still able to move around and drink and eat a little bit it was ok.  but at this point, it’s time.

the other thing i told my sister is that what i know about death is that you just have to love them as long as they can understand, and then try your best to provide a peaceful passing.  i learned that from Barb and Grama.  i found myself angry with them on my ride home.  angry with them, angry with God?  angry at whoever is greedily taking away precious beings from my life.  i was angrily shaking a proverbial fist and threating, you better take good care of her.

peace to you, sugar.  you are so very loved.

img078

home away from home?

for the past few months i’ve been letting my cats out in the hallway for a few minutes, a couple times a day.  i usually get up by 6am and i figured this was a good time for their little taste of hallway freedom.  it’s a time when most sane people are still tucked cozy in their beds, where my neighbor with his overenergetic dog aren’t out for their morning walk so that i don’t have to referee inter-species race riots.

this morning i let them out, when i went out to call them in before my shower, the hallway was empty.

!?!?

my first thought was that a passive neighbor was teaching me a lesson for letting them outside and had sent them into the elevator or let them into the stairwell.  damn it all, i never should’ve started this!  i cautiously walked down the hall and here comes louie poking his head out of the corner apartment at the end.  i was too baffled to make any judgement so i kept walking toward him.  luckily this was the apartment of a neighbor who was friendly with the cats. a single dad who had stopped a couple times before to ask their names.  he just smiled and said “good morning!”

he then proceeded to tell me that louie usually comes down in the mornings, mewing outside his door so he can come in and visit.  motherfucker.  how embarrassing!  so at first it was just louie, but lately mazzy has been following him down.  i looked around and here they are, big as shit, nosing their way around the bedrooms, making themselves at home.  i was dumbfounded and apologetic but he really didn’t seem to mind.

did i mention this was pre-shower?  read:  slept on post-pony bride of frankenstein hair, no bra and tank top, and sky blue baggy sweatpants covered in paint.  i would’ve been mortified beyond belief if single dad’s hair wasn’t a greasy mess matted to his head.

i scooped up my cats and left quickly, super embarrassed.  i don’t think he minds, i think he likes them, but still… what a strange feeling to know your cats are leading a double life.