The cat carrier was unzipped by the door for Bo’s ride to his 8am well check, the very place we’d visit again at 5:30pm to say goodbye to Louie, our other cat. They’d be sedating Bo again because at each trip to the vet he morphs into a monster. I scooped him up when he least suspected it, stuffing our furry squirming water balloon into the carrier. I began zipping the top and his head popped out the other end. I stuffed it back down, zipped some more, and a paw shot through the open slit. I continued this Whack A Mole stuffing and zipping game until we were all closed up, then he began body slamming the sides of his carrier, which rocked furiously, wobbling low to the ground like a Weeble, but it didn’t fall down.
We took our usual route and I passed a house I always notice, with its striking crisscrossed trellis supporting a beautiful vine climbing its side and back wall. Now it looked scant and dying, life’s fragility greeting me head on today of all days. We made it more than halfway to the vet before Bo began vomiting, but I was done playing Whack A Mole and didn’t dare unzip him. I dropped him off with the usual apologies–sorry my cat is like this, I promise he’s really sweet at home, and he may have vomited, so you might need to clean it up. Sorry.
Home now to love on Louie. I found him where I’d left him on the towel on the comfy brown couch, and brought him water and food, which he barely touched. As I sat with him, I noticed the colorful hot air balloon painting on the wall which my older son Ben made years earlier. I told Louie that a hot air balloon would be meeting us in midtown, and later that afternoon he would be taking a ride high up in the clouds. There would be fresh catnip cascading down the balloon’s basket, and he would be able to snack to his heart’s content. Birds would be flying by and he could watch them while he nibbled. No longer weak, he will be light as a feather floating up high until it’s time to check in to heaven. All kinds of people and animals will greet him, our dog Lucie at the head of the line. At home there he can weave in and out of leafy zinnia plants, track butterflies, and nibble on tall blades of grass, and it will feel wonderfully familiar, yet new, and he will always remember our days together, too. Nothing’s ending; a new chapter’s beginning is all.
I moved us to the screened porch so he could snooze in his cat tree in the sun, and there he molded perfectly into it, bowing his head back into sleep. We lolled the afternoon away, alternating between the porch and the couch and the back yard, where he walked a little and lied down in the grass, his favorite place. I will always cherish these quiet hours we shared.
I missed a call from the vet, who after sedated well checks typically rings me to say the sedation went well, Bo’s woken up and he’s ready to go. This message, however, was of the I was calling about your cat, please call us variety. Of course, my mind raced to, Bo has had a coronary from all the stress and his fatness, and now our furry family in the blink of this astonishingly gorgeous day is gone. I called back but the doctor was in procedures and I would have to wait. An hour later with fear puncturing my calm time with Louie, I could stand it no more and called again, pressing the receptionist to see if I could come pick up Bo. The doctor got on and explained Bo’s blood sugar looked high and he is morbidly obese. It could be pre-diabetes, but they couldn’t collect urine with him being what she dubbed “impressive,” code for the cat who should have had Gabapentin in advance of sedation, which didn’t really take, the 17-pounder who not only hissed and cried and cowered, but viscerally lunged at them. Results from the blood sample they did get would be ready the next day. I was just incredulous and grateful that we could keep loving on our remaining cat, beautiful Bo, and I picked him up and home we went.
Finally, it was time for Louie and me to leave, so Joe put his Zoom call on mute and tenderly carried Louie out to the car. He teared up and I felt bad whisking Louie away so quickly as Joe’s busy workday hadn’t afforded him the leisurely Louie time I got. In the car, instead of perching his paws on the window to watch the world whizzing by, Louie curled up sweetly in my lap with his head down, napping while I told him over and over how special he was. We arrived and I stood outside on the lawn cradling my fur baby as I waited for Evan, my warm blanket I had called earlier in tears, who showed up to support not only his dear friend, but the mom they shared. A nice vet tech greeted us, and we walked outside to the back to meet the doctor. The three of us sat together in a grassy area on a fluffy blanket with Louie peaceful and in his element. The doctor was tender and loving, and the moment sweet, swift, elegant and serene.
Once home I walked around looking at the towel covered couches, the little ramekins of water spread around the kitchen and porch, the Saran Wrap-covered bowls of kibble at the ready, the pill containers, all of them key players to nourish my sweet Lou, but now reduced to ordinary items to be washed and put away. Disease is particularly messy and depressing.
I felt caged at home, trying to shower attention on Bo, but still kind of mad at him for the embarrassing scene he once again created and emotionally spent from the loss of Louie, so I took off on foot for downtown to move through the rest of this interminable day. Throngs of people spilled out of restaurants, onto patios and lawns soaking in this spectacular day, Earth Day 2022, and celebrating Friday’s arrival. I appeared like a stranger who’d just woken from a trance, walking through any town USA on any spring Friday. I kept going, hoping to get the day done. The air was perfectly gorgeous, and I loved that Louie and I had together squeezed so much out of this day. Home after 9pm, I made some eggs and opened the mail (of course, Louie’s rabies tag had arrived) and went up to bed.
The next morning, I was in full on Bo mode and getting his breakfast, now reduced to mini cans of food instead of the more caloric kibble. The vet called and said Bo’s bloodwork was inconclusive on diabetes, but showed elevated blood sugars, not crazy high, but not nothing. It could be he’s just gotten heavier from the extra food he’s stolen as I’ve been trying to beef up Louie’s dwindling frame. Another call from the vet today concluded Bo is just fat, thankfully, and not diabetic. You can fix fat, but diabetes is not so simple. So fat we will fix, with moving the litter box up the 22 stairs to the second story, sticking with wet food, and regular weigh-ins.
I’ve shed many a tear over cats and dogs. I hope to love many more.
This comment from a friend after I posted about Louie’s passing stayed with me. Life is indeed bittersweet, but all the tears are worth it. You get to love the furry creatures that come into your life, and the energy they bring into your home is like no other–what a privilege. I’ve spent way too much time looking back (Hindsight), yet realize it’s natural to relish what you’ve loved and lost. However, all that love with seemingly nowhere to go does in fact have a home, and it’s here with the people and pets you are with now. And the ones you’ve yet to meet, and there will be more.
Another memorable phrase I’m hanging onto came in a card a friend sent. “Heaven is a little brighter” and indeed it is. I feel certain this life here in these bodies is not the whole story. Along with the card was a lovely homegrown bouquet with forget-me-nots, catmint and catnip, which Bo discovered and devoured this morning. Just like with a birth, seems as with a death, it helps to bring something for the other sibling, in this case, fresh catnip. Big love to you, sweet Lou. We will never forget you.