Our dear cat Oprah passed away a few nights ago.
I woke a 2:30am to cabbage leaning over me whispering.. Em... Em... EM!
Now for those who don't know me, scaring me when I am half asleep, or in the shower, or anyplace else I feel the slightest bit vulnerable is the fastest way to punch in the face town.
It is instinctual. Boo, whack.... I wish this wasn't so, but I have lived through enough and read enough Patricia Cornwall to know baddies exist, especially in the dark and especially when you should be sleeping.
On this occasion though, there was something about his tone, that made me sit bolt upright, it didn't even register that there was a large human, cm from my face in the dark, when this particular large person clearly should be snoring and flatuating peacefully next to me.
Flatuating is not a word, but it should be.
"Its Oprah" he said. "She is in the bathroom, something happened to her, I can't tell what, but she is in a bad way"
He was soaking wet, I could tell he had been outside in the rain, I asked him where he had been? Where did he find her?
Cabbage replied that he had found her under the trampoline, our dog Chaos had been barking at her.
She shouldn't have been outside.
"Did you whistle?" I asked while I was putting on my dressing gown, which seems like a ridiculous question, but we have three dogs, they bark at night, when there are foxes about, or at murmurs of people eight streets away and usually it takes one short sharp whistle from cabbage to get them bounding back up to the porch, conformation that their doggy concerns were acknowledged, addressed, unfounded. I assumed I would have woken if he had whistled.
Cabbage replied that there was something about our dogs bark that sent him bolting down the backyard barefoot, Bless the souls of animals, if you listen, they can talk.
It was there, in the rain, under the trampoline that he had found her.
In the bathroom, I found our poor Oprah, wide eyed, pupils large, disoriented and panting. Now I have lived on acerage and been around enough animals, to know that our poor puss was in shock, a dangerous place for a moggy to be.
I did what I had learned, without thinking, just doing.
I raised her hind legs, higher than her head, put the overhead heat light on high. I dried her, I took off my fluffy warm dressing gown and covered her with it, only lifting the corners of it to inspect the different areas of her body.
There wasn't a mark on her, no tooth marks, broken and bloody claws or slobber around her neck to indicate a dog attack, no patches of missing fur or grazes that would indicate a knock by a car. No immediately obvious injuries.
Picking her up, careful to keep her head lower than the rest of her, I noticed Her back leg looked a little out of place, not extremely so, just different to the other.
As gently as I could I placed her back down on a warm fluffy towel from the dryer, and I curled back her lip, to discover one broken tooth and my heart sank.
Her gums and tongue were rapidly turning a milky white.
She was bleeding somewhere.... There was no blood on her, I knew this meant she was bleeding inside.
There was not much more we could do, even if it had not have been 2:30am on a Sunday, even if our vet had been open, a five minute car ride away, she could not be saved.
I curled up next to her and kissed her head.
I pat her, and her panting became shallower almost immediately.
She let out the slightest of purrs as I scratched behind her ears and she closed her dilated eyes.
I will spare you the rest, because dying ain't pretty, but it did not take more than three minutes from when I curled back her whiskered lip, till she was gone.
I wrapped her in my dressing gown, it was hers now, I placed her in a box and the next morning, I dropped her at our vet. I needed to know what it was that took her from us.
He called later to let us know that it had most likely a knock from a car.
It took me two days to gather the courage to tell the kids. Luckily for me our vet understands me, he is the most clinical person I know, but I get him. I'm not good at that stuff.
I don't have my dads comforting tone, or my mothers tears for such occasions.
I met their enquires after her presence with lies of.."probably down the back catching mice, or she will come in when she is hungry" pushing down the knot in my guts till I could process it.
Thats what I do with the hard stuff now, I wait.
I have to process it. I have to explore all reactions before I can face it.
I never used to be like that.
I collected the cat, then the kids from the bus.
I let them have something to eat, we read home readers, homework was finished, then I finally sat them down and told them that puss had gone.
I answered their many questions, with Honesty sparing them only the darkest of details.
Little shoulders heaved, more unanswerable questions were asked, about god and becoming the grass.
I told them I held her when she died, she wasn't alone and she wasn't in pain. I'm a fucking liar, but there was no need.
When the tears were drying, I announced Maccas for dinner.
They took it well and moved right along.
Later that night Mr 13 divulged that he was glad I did not tell him yesterday, as he had a bad day at school.
Instinctually, I had done the right thing.
I couldn't help but feel like I gave him two bad days instead.
One day, I hope that I won't always be so clinical about the bad stuff, that I can cry without having to process it every which way first.
Without telling myself to stop being ridiculous, she was a cat, worse things happen, and just feel what I need to feel,To let it out, To know instinctually how to comfort my children.
Maccas shouldn't comfort my children. I should.
I had a dream, that my Uncle Waz was holding Oprah. I can hear my daughters sweet voice, full of wide eyed innocence saying, don't cry mum, Uncle Wowick is not crying.
My brain comforts me, in my sleep, even when I won't.
My gut looks out for me, even when I won't, so I know I am still there somewhere, if I listen.
This is how I know I'll get there, Because I did once, without thinking, just doing,
I hate that when things get bad I still run into myself.
I hate that the fucking cat dying is still somehow about me.
There are some things I can't make funny, and peeps, Tomorrow is another day.
(Comments are not only appreciated immensely, but necessary and they occasionally make me get nipple stags, but this one is just for me, so just for this one, comments are off. I'll be funny tomorrow I promise)
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