On a cold, stormy night just after Samhain in 2002, there came a knock at our door. The door was at the end of a long, dirt driveway, which was at the end of a long, mountain road in rural Maine. So if you came to it, you meant to be there. I was cleaning up after a Halloween party, and Sean was in town working late. So I was surprised to find our neighbors' son-in-law, covered in falling snow, holding the most emaciated cat I had ever seen. He knew we had cats, he said, and he had found this one on the road nearby. Was it ours?
At this, the cat leaped from his arms, raced behind my heels and sat down, looking up at him. It's worth noting that our beloved Angus, a cat we had lost a year before, used to do this all the time when she wanted my protection for some...more
This morning, our beloved cat Samantha went to be with Bast. She was seventeen and frail with end-stage kidney disease. For the veterinarians among my friends, her blood count was 10, and her eyes and gums were white. For the non-veterinarians, this means her kidneys had stopped producing erythropoetin, a hormone that tells the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. She had also begun to smell slightly toxic in spite of her sub-q fluids, and she was weak and sick. The only thing I could get her to eat was tuna. If we had waited any longer to end her life, she almost certainly would have gone into respiratory distress and begun developing ulcers in her mouth and esophagus. There is no recovery when kidneys fail in cats, and it's a hard, ugly death.
But I'm being clinical. Let me tell you about Sam.
She was born in my apartment during a 1994 eclipse and would have died of her mother China's neglect if my ex-husband hadn't fed her warm milk and massaged her little body...more
I've read a number of blog entries in the last week about today's remembrance of the September 11th attacks. A few have rightly commented that in some respects, the media's spin of the ceremony would seek to supplant our own, natural grief.
However, I'm grateful for the news today, because 2001 was the beginning of a dark time for my husband and me. In particular, the events of September 11th that year occurred atop a pair of personal tragedies that made it hard for me to connect with the greater tragedy of the terror attacks. I went numb. I shut it out. I focused on what I could solve; the problems in my own life.
I've always felt badly about that, because I wanted to grieve then, and I still do. But it gets harder, the farther it passes from the present, to mourn that day and what came after. I've promised myself that someday I'll go to the new 9/11 memorial in a good suit and sit for awhile, and find out what my own, natural grief actually feels like....more