Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Happened to Harold

He Was Fine

He was fine when I got home Monday after stitch and bitch.

He was fine as I went about the evening, pet the kitties, feed the kitties, look at the mail. On the computer, trying to ignore the bad Bruins game, looking for a pattern on Ravelry, having some ice cream. I trimmed Miri's claws for the first time in a while, since she was starting to "stick" to soft surfaces again. In fact, I pricked my finger cleaning up the clippings, and it was like a needle. (She was Not Amused, and I had to alternate between scruffing her and holding her down. But she doesn't hold a grudge, thank heaven, and she really needed it.)

He was fine when I got into bed, around 10:15, he was already lying there and he let me pet him, and purred, while I read for a few minutes. I turned off the light, and a few minutes later, he jumped down. Not unusual.

When someone started throwing up a few minutes later, I turned on the light to see who it was, and it was Harold. It is highly unusual for him to vomit, and I laid back and wondered whether as he got older, it might become a more common thing (as it was with a previous cat).

He threw up, walked here, gagged, walked there, threw up, laid down. Miri was following him around to see what was up. Clearly, things weren't right, but I wasn't sure how serious it was, or whether to do anything. He went out of the bedroom again.

A minute later, from the other room, an awful moan of a meow pulled me up and out of bed, calling his name. He was lying on the rug in the bathroom, lying wrong. There was a BM a few feet away. He kept moaning. I tried to pick him up, and his back legs hung down, heavy and limp, and he meowed so loudly, so painfully, that I put him back down and started to scramble into sweats and shoes and grabbed the carrier. He didn't fight it at all, just kept up that godawful moan every few seconds. Miri was dancing around in the background, clearly wanting to know what was wrong.

I talked to him during that awful forever drive to the emergency vet, which probably took 10-15 minutes but seemed endless. Not only was he moaning, he was thrashing around like he would fight his way out of the carrier. It was miserable.

The vet took him back to examine him, then came to hear what happened. I told her, and she said that while she'd have to examine him, it sounded very much like he threw a blood clot, which had paralyzed his back legs, and if so, the prognosis was very bad. They got my permission to sedate him for the pain, and in order to be able to examine him further, and in the end that was it. The treatment has a very low success rate (under 10%, she said), and he would be in terrible pain. How could I?

When I saw him again, though he was sedated, he was still moaning, more quietly, but still. It was a heartbreaking sound.

My baby.

It's an awful thing to walk out of the vet with an empty carrier. Feeling that this must be a bad dream, knowing it isn't.

When I got home, Miri was waiting for me. Where is he, what happened, where is he? I put down the empty carrier and pretended it wasn't there. I don't see it, it's not there, this isn't real, this isn't happening.

I cleaned up the vomit. I turned on the computer, sending e-mails to spread the bad news to family, and to my boss to tell her I would be in late in the morning. Since it was after 1 AM, that seemed a safe bet.

Miri walked around, meowing. Looking for Harold.

I got in bed, started to cry, got up, watched crappy TV for a little while, went back to bed. Turn off the brain, let the Tylenol PM do its work. Sore head, sore eyes, sore heart.

The worst words are "never" and "the last".

I'll never sit with Harold on my lap again.

Monday was the last time he met me at the door.

I'll never have to choose between moving him out of the center of the bed, or sleeping around him.

I'll never try to reassure him that the big scary noise outside is not going to get him. He never really believed me, but I would always try.

I'll never bury my face in his fur, on a day when the windows were opened, and smell that fresh-air fur smell, or pet him in the sun and feel the sun-hot fur.

I try to paper over all the last times. I went to Target, which is near the emergency vet, so that takes care of the "the last time I drove here". I've done the "last time I cleaned the litter box", the "last time I came home to him". I'm past "this time yesterday" but not "this time last week". And of course, this time last year I had Pan and Harold. And Dad. If you had told me, on November 17th of 2008, that in the next twelve months I would lose Pan, Harold, and my father ... well, I guess precognition is a curse after all.

Sometimes I walk like a badly greased robot, off-balance and out of sync. Or I'll be standing still, at the copier, or in the shower, and feel like I'm about to fall over, though I don't. My equilibrium is off.

My head feels fuzzy, but when it clears like fog breaking, misery hits hard.

I try to deny the "should-have" thoughts, but they edge their way in. I should have given him a lap the whole evening. I should have known when he started throwing up that something was wrong. I stomp on the thoughts, and they pop up again.

It helps a lot to know that some people understand what this means to me, that I feel bereaved.

funny pictures of cats with captions

There are a lot of people in the world who will reply to, "My cat died last night," with something like, "Oh, that's too bad." And they mean it, the same way they'd mean it if you said, "I was in a fender-bender last night," or "Coming out of the grocery store, I dropped the bag with the eggs and every single one broke." Meaning, what a shame.

Then they glance at the red, puffy eyes again and are puzzled. So? Isn't it just a cat? Couldn't you get another one? they seem to think.

To the well-meaning but not-really-animal-loving colleague, who knew about Harold, and who told me on Tuesday afternoon that I looked sad, that would be because I am sad. You lose points.

To the colleague who didn't know, and asked me why I looked unhappy lately, you're right, and you know me pretty well. Add points.

(I do manage normal conversations; I'm not walking around clutching a tissue and sniffling all the time. In both cases, I was standing at the copier, in zone-out mode, and not trying to put on a good face.)

I haven't been without a lap cat since 1998.

Miri's a nice cat, and affectionate in a wary, on-her-own-terms way, but not a lap cat. After ten months, I accept that that's just the way she is. Not a cuddler. Nothing wrong with that, until I lost my cuddlebuggy.

The reason I was inspired to rearrange my bedroom furniture was that I wanted to get more sun on the bed. It was the second weekend I was sick, the sun was out, and I felt like curling up in it, like a cat, but it only hit a corner of the bed. I thought that if I moved the bed there, and the dressers here, and so on, more sun would be on the bed more often, which would please both me and the cats, since I also remembered how Harold loved to sit on the bed by the sunny window where we lived before: he was always there.

I moved the bed Friday night. Saturday, it rained. Sunday morning was overcast. Monday morning was gray too.

Tuesday morning I sat on the bed, in the sun, without Harold.



Blogger Jennifer Saylor said...

So sorry my dear for your horrible year and horrible losses. Life sucks sometimes. Summer comes again, though. But some days have such rain, such rain.

So sorry for you and Harold both. You did the right and loving thing.

8:26 PM, November 18, 2009  
Blogger Jess said...

I am so sorry. I cried just reading this. It is just so awful to lose a pet. You are in my thoughts.

11:20 PM, November 18, 2009  
Blogger Maura said...

Thank you for writing about Harold. You did all you could. I am so hoping that your co-workers and friends nearby will be kind and considerate; you're going through a lot these days. Good Strength for the journey.

1:49 AM, November 19, 2009  
Blogger Leslie said...

I cry for you and the losses you have had this past year. I cry for Miri who will now be alone emotionally as well as physically during the day. I am happy that Harold's end came swiftly; he was sedated and had you with him when he breathed his last. But I still cry for his loss for he seemed a shy, wise soul who gave you great comfort.

Thank you for telling us what happened.

9:24 AM, November 19, 2009  
Blogger Kali said...

Writing it all out in an effort to make it more real and concrete instead of the disjointed daily unreality can get you started on regaining perspective. I read that somewhere. I just know the loss is rather large and cumulative.

Hugs and prayers...

12:09 PM, November 19, 2009  
Blogger Adrith said...

I've never commented on your blog before; I came across it a couple of months ago, maybe, before Rhinebeck to be sure. I'm rather sorry I haven't done it before now.

But I am very much a cat person, and I wanted to let you know that I'm so sorry to hear. I lost my cuddlebug six years ago, and I know what a huge hole they leave behind when they go.

You and your sweet baby are in my thoughts.

4:55 PM, November 20, 2009  
Blogger goosefairy said...

oh baby. somehow i missed this post. i am so so sorry. i don't know what else to say. i am just so so sorry.

1:32 PM, December 02, 2009  

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