Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's Been a Long Cold Lonely...

Winter Week.

Yes, I did neglect posting anything for four days.  I actually started this post (in my mind) on Saturday, but oh how time flies when you're singing the blues. 

Last week was filled with stress; mostly stress of another person, but stress anyway.  The stress caused major breakdowns in communication, lack of respect shown to one another, and plenty of hurt feelings. 

But last week wasn't all bad:  we were surprised Easter morning by our first two calves of the season.  I've since named them Lolo and Double Stuff.  In contrast to last year's calving season, these two came into the world without a problem and without any help from us.  (Go ahead, ask me and sometime I'll tell you the story about the first time this city girl helped pull a calf) 

Then came Friday evening.  Things started out well.  Double Stuff has to be fed a bottle a couple of times a day to supplement his mother's milk, so I headed out after work to check on the ladies (that's the cows) and see if anyone else was making plans on adding to the little herd.  Seeing no calf parts hanging out, I headed inside to mix up a bottle for the little guy.  When I came back out and called for the little calvie (that's what Merv calls him) I looked up to see a slimy newborn calf on the ground next to his mama.  I happily fed Double Stuff while checking out the new guy and called my mom to tell her about my day.  Then I went for a walk to check on our other animals, including these two:

{Caliope & Firefox, around 8 weeks old, July 2009}

Firefox had not been well and had been hit with some medication the day before.  (Caliope is another story because I think she's gone the way of most girl barn cats and gotten herself preggers).  So I went to find him, calling "here kitty, kitty" but hopeful because as I'd held him the night before he'd been purring more, and breathing easily, and seemed to be getting back to his old self.  Sadly, I did find him, but he was no longer alive.  Still on the phone with my mom, I chose to focus on the happiness of a new calf, even though I was talking to the woman in the world most likely to understand my emotions. 

Eventually, I hung up, insisting that I needed to go start dinner.  Instead I needed to call Merv, tell him the bad news and try not to be upset about not getting the cat to the vet sooner.  After the phone call I found myself alone with my grief and wondering why I was so attached.  I was just a stupid barn cat, right?  But Firefox was so much more.  Last summer, Merv and I both lost our dogs to illness or accident.  These two kittens came on the scene not long after and filled that empty space I found every time I went outside.  Firefox especially was very loyal despite being a tom cat.  It was a long winter of finding days when it was tolerably warm enough to sit outside or in the workshop and hold these wannabe lap cats.  I never tired of giving them fresh food every morning, putting that food away at night to keep the pests from it;  of finding the old "dogloo" and filling it with straw and tucking it into the warmest corner of the barn for them to sleep in;  of running their water dish under the hot tap to melt away the chunk of ice and make room for fresh water.  It was all the reward I needed to see them playing in the spring sunshine, grown and cuddly.  And so happy that warm weather meant the return of me sitting outside watching the sun go down with two cats fighting for space on my lap. 

{Firefox, March 2010}

In the midst of memory there is grief, and it is more than grief that weighs on my heart.  I have a unusually strong compassion when it comes to suffering animals.  Sure, we all get a little misty when we hear Sara McLaughlin singing while flashes of too-thin animals appear on screen, but I weep.  At night, when those commercials come on and I'm alone in bed, I have to change the channel because the images haunt me.  When I see an animal on the side of the road my heart breaks, and it's all because I find myself "inside the head" of the animal.  I think about who they belonged to.  I think about what they were doing, how they were feeling.  And more often than not, I wonder if they were scared, hurting and alone when they died.  Now I was feeling that as I thought about my orange and white cat with an old soul.  I thought about the serene look on his face whenever I held him close and couldn't stand to think of the look on his face when I found him.  It was a long night.  And a long weekend.  And it's been a long week. 

But now I can write about it and I'm able hold back the tears.  I don't know if our pets will greet us in Heaven (and I'm not here to debate it) but I like to imagine that God knew a little girl in heaven, maybe a brown eyed red head like me, who just wanted a kitty to cuddle with.  I think God found the best one we could spare down here. 

{Firefox, March 2010}
Rest in peace, my purr-y furry friend, rest in peace.

P.S.  In case you wonder what a funeral, a holiday, a week of stress topped off by grief does for my weight loss:  I had a gain of 1.2 at Saturday's weigh in.


Anonymous said...

You poor baby! I'm sorry about your kitty. My mother-in-law is very similar when it comes to animals. She has taken in so many stray animals just since I've known her. You are very sweet!

Taylorvillegirl said...

I wandered over here from SITS, not realizing I would be reading such a heart wrenching story.
I'm so sorry for your loss. Animals are truly special and the grief of losing one is like no other.
My heart goes out to you.
Congrats on your baby calf, though.

angie c said...

I don't know anyone who loves cats as much as you do...sorry for your kitty cat passing away. hugs from kansas! oxoxox

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