"I hate waiting."

As you might guess, I'm a bit impatient. I had hoped that picking up a pair of knitting needles would help me learn about the virtue of patience... but it seems I just want my projects to go along as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's so hard to say goodbye

I know this blog is all but defunct. I'm still here, just leading a very boring life: school, school, and more school. Well, I'm lying a little bit. I teach; I test; I research; I study. I'm practically an apple product (ha ha. iTest, iStudy, iResearch.. get it?) I wish I could say iDissertate, but it's more like iAvoidDissertating.

At this point, this post is really more for me. To remember. I've been re-reading my blog for just that reason. And I'm so glad that i blogged my life. I think a lot of blogs have slowed down for some reason, and I admit I have a hard time keeping up with reading blogs. But these last 10 days, I've been SO SO SO VERY glad that I blogged some of my life.

I'm just putting off the reason why I came to post. You would think that blogging/writing would be easier than verbally telling people, but as I sit here and compose this post, I have tears streaming down my face. On July 16, 2010, I had to say goodbye to my Cosmo kitty.

Many of you know that I didn't think we were meant for each other. He and his brother, Danger, came to me as fosters. I agreed to take care of them for three months (summer before junior year of college); those three months stretched out to over 15 years together. I got them in early May 1995- things didn't start well. I had an obsession with vacuuming. They did not really enjoy that about me so much. I was used to dogs, where I could give affection whenever I wanted (picture Elmira here). They got used to it. I didn't really know how to pet them, how to predict their jumping behavior, or how to interpret their body language. But we survived.

Can I tell you a secret? After two-three months together, I decided that though I loved them both, i got along better with Danger. He was a bit less excitable, he was more snuggly when i wanted him to be snuggly, and he didn't gouge my inner thighs out when someone knocked on the door. (Cosmo, if sitting on my lap, would dig in for traction as he ran off like a scared bunny rabbit).

He was named after Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld. While I didn't name him, and he didn't learn his name for years afterwards, he EARNED his name quickly. I remember one night, junior year of college, laying (lying?) in bed reading myself to sleep. Cosmo was stretched out on top of my tall bookshelf. He decided he needed to stretch and did so by pushing off against the wall.

Tall bookcase + carpet floor + new kitty owner + big cat pushing against wall = win for gravity.

The bookcase (filled with books) came crashing down, scaring the living ever daylights out of me. Mostly, i was worried that Cosmo got smooshed underneath all those books and the bookcase. But he was fine. *I* was mad though.

After college, the kitties moved with me to Denver. They rode in the car with me and my parents (who didn't think I could manage to move on my own. I was 22 yo.) I was secretly delighted when they kept running across my dad's head in the middle of the night in the hotel rooms.

In Denver, we enjoyed life. We worked (er, I worked), we went back to school and got a master's degree, and we re-learned to knit! He really enjoyed that last one. He's chewed through almost every single project I've started so far (he always managed to find the working yarn and worked hard at separating the knitted object and the ball of yarn it was connected to...). He liked to sit out on the balcony with me to bird-watch. He loved when the miller moth season would come around; crunch crunch crunch!! He also loved to play a game where he sat between the shower curtain and liner on the edge of the tub while I was, uh, busy, and try to kill my hand as I traced patterns.

Then, someone got the not-so-bright idea to get her PhD. And we moved to Boston. The first year, I was welcomed to the city by some burglars, who stole my laptop, my ipod, and all my jewelry of value. What was I worried about though? The fact that they left the door open and whether my cats had run away, scared shitless. But no. Cosmo had hid himself in the teeniest tiniest corner of the bedroom closet. I felt so bad.

In March of 2008, Cosmo decided he didn't like it so much when I went away on trips. Well, actually, he was sick before I left, I just wasn't aware of it. When I got home, he was lethargic and UNINTERESTED in food. We're talking about the cat who's stolen more food off my plate than either of my dogs. I've caught him with his head IN my bag of popcorn in the past. So, we rushed off to the ER vet.

He was very very sick. Hepatic lipidosis, pancreatitis, and diabetic ketoacidosis. The ER vet told me it would be best to put him down while I sobbed my eyes out. I told her I wanted to give my baby a chance. Every day, he seemed better; every day, I went to visit him 2x per day. A week later, they let me take him home. He had a lot of meds. He needed a lot of care. He spent a lot of time on my lap. He was really weak though. And fragile. He needed help eating- they inserted a tube in his throat and i syringed food into his belly). The tube looked like an antenna, see?

And here's one with him, his antenna, and his brother Danger. Snuggling like usual.

I knew he was going to recover when I saw his little antenna bopping up and down out of the corner of my eye when I was reading in bed. I had been making his 'bed' under my nightstand. Close to me, but not up on the bed (I was worried he was too weak to jump up and down off the bed to use the potty). I couldn't not let him sleep with me, so I picked him up, and put a box next to the bed for him to use as a stepping stone. He used that box almost every night from then on.

After that ordeal (learning how to give him insulin, checking his blood sugar levels, changing his diet, and tube feeding him and lots of other stuff), we became closer than ever. He always did like to be near me, but now he was practically inseparable from me!

I have tons of pics where he's doing just that... touching the mommy. He loved to sit on me. ALL. THE. TIME. So I tried to train him to sit NEXT to me. And it worked most of the time. But he had to be touching me. I think he figured if he had a paw on me, he'd be alerted to when and if I moved.

For two plus years after he first got so, so sick, we've had a lot of fun together. He gave me some haircuts (he liked to nibble on my hair... trying to give me bangs, I think); he learned he liked to sleep under the covers, curled up in my armpit so he could rest his chin on my shoulder; he started enjoying all the car rides. He recovered beautifully from getting his eye removed and became a most dashing pirate kitty.

He and his brother were very close. I didn't know that cats could be in a 'bonded pair' (I learned this term recently) but if any two cats were bonded, it was these two.

So, we're both grieving. Danger walks around the house calling for his brother sometimes. I cry whenever I have to tell people that he's gone. I cry at night when I would give almost anything to have both of my babies tucked into bed with me.

After all this time (almost 16 years together!), he's left a huge hole in my heart and in my life. Some of you might think I'm crazy for how much medical attention I gave him; but I don't regret one minute of it. I miss taking care of him. I miss petting his shaved belly. I miss our snuggles in the morning as I gave him his meds. I miss coming home to him. I miss how he used to duck his head and shove it up against my face (as if to present his royal pate) when I asked him for a kiss. How do you not miss a pet with whom you've shared your entire adult life?

Making the decision to let him go peacefully instead of watching him struggle was an easy decision, yet one of the most difficult things I've ever done. Knowing I was going to be saying goodbye for the last time was heart-wrenching. I'm not sure I've ever cried so much. Through the last few days together, he sat next to me. (Maybe some of you are wondering why I put him to sleep. He wasn't eating, he had had several respiratory attacks of unidentifiable cause, and I didn't want him to have a painful slow death). I think he knew I needed those last few days, even though I had told him he could go when he was having a respiratory attack on Tuesday (7/13). I don't regret the decision to put him to sleep. I just regret we didn't have more time together. And I'll never regret any of the time, money, or love that I poured into that four legged furry fuzzball of love.

Since this here is supposedly a knitting blog, here's a pic of some yarn. With cat. Who appreciated him some nice yarn.

And his little paw. I love this picture.

Goodbye baby. I miss you. I love you.

I have to give a shout out to the terrific vet that saw us through these last 2.5 years of diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, hepatic lipidosis, heart murmur, chronic kidney disease, and lymphoma... and ascites (another nickname for Cosmo was lemon kitty. I think you can see why. Perhaps you are also wondering why it was a shock to me that he's gone. Yes, he wasn't the healthiest. But he was happy. And he lived through a lot of crap that most cats don't recover from).

Anyway, Dr. Doug Brum at Angell Memorial in Boston has been terrific. He saw us through to the very end. He loved Cosmo too. He guided us through every illness and kept his promise not to let me overtreat Cosmo. He and his team emailed me back on weekends and I trusted him to help my baby. I don't say that lightly. If there's a reason I'll be sad to leave Boston, it's b/c I'll be leaving this terrific vet. If you live in Boston and have a pet who has medical issues, try to see if Dr Brum is taking on new cases. You won't regret it.