When things fall apart….


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“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.” 

Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

 Feb. 1, ‘15

Since a few weeks before Christmas I’ve had many moments of feeling like a piece of shit.  My employer hasn’t paid me for work I’ve done nor have I been able to contact her through any available means of communication.  My employer, who has also been a friend and confidante, seems to have vanished.  I’m unable to pay my rent or utility bills.  Financially, I’m way out on thin ice, devastated.  Emotionally, I feel abandoned and betrayed.  Inwardly, I feel many moments of fear and anguish.  The sense of Loss on so many levels, is, at times, overwhelming.  I’m finding it difficult to look at this part of my human experience in a positive light, as one of ‘one door closing, another door opening….’

Through thick and thin these past 5+ years, I’ve had the companionship of my good friend, Albert, who’s a cat.  I don’t see Albert so much as a cat but as a spiritual being in a cat suit.  I’ve had him since he was 7 or 8 weeks old; our bond was instantaneous and he’s been a joy and comfort to me every day we’ve been together.

I did this sketch of Albert on Thanksgiving night, after having had a sweet day with friends.  I have many such sketches of other cats in my past, but this is the only one I’ve ever done of Albert.  When I’m working on a painting, reading, working on my computer or watching a movie, Albert is close to my side as if we’re joined at the hip.  I wake at night to reach out to find where he is.  Usually he’s sleeping under my chin or curled up against the back of my legs.  I pet him, he purrs, we fall back to sleep.

A little more than a week ago, Albert started with a dry cough.  I thought his cough meant imminent hair ball yacked up on the floor for me to clean.  But, no hair ball and his cough persisted.  I started giving him coconut oil to help move the mass of hair ball, but, no hair ball ever manifested itself and the coughing continued.  A few days ago, I noticed that his belly was distended.  Constipation, perhaps….  But, no,   still the cough and the distended belly and rising concern, for me.

This past Friday, I decided that no matter the cost, Albert was going to the vet.  The vet I go to is a person I’ve gone to for many years.  I haven’t taken Albert to see him for over 3 years because of cost and because Albert has been so healthy.  All my other cats went at least once a year, but that was when I had the money.   It was good to see Dr Dan, my alarm level dropped considerably during our consultation.  But, when he examined Albert, I could tell by the look on his face that he had bad news.  I even said to him, “You don’t have good news, do you?”  He looked up and I could see emotion on his face.  “No, I don’t, I’m sorry.”

Albert has congestive heart failure and perhaps not too much more time to live.  Dr Dan said perhaps 1-3 months.

Albert’s by my side as I write.  I just pet him and he’s purring.  In the moment, all is well.

Dr Dan and I decided to put Albert on Lasix for the rest of his life, in hopes it will ease a certain amount of overall discomfort and make it easier on his heart —  and prolong his life.  I’m hoping for the best, here, no matter what the ‘best’ may be.  I’m encouraged when friends tell me that someone they know has been on Lasix for the past 10 or 15 or 20 years.

I’ve also made the decision to get a kitten for me and Albert.  I think a new little life mingling with our present life would make us both happy, keep us positive.  Would be a companion for Albert when I’m out and would be a link to both of us and create a sense of continuity.

Friends and family have been notified.  We’ve mourned, we’ve celebrated, we have hope.  If they hear of someone who needs a home for a kitten, they know someone who has a home.

At times, my heart is engulfed with sorrow; unbidden tears roll down my face, my nose runs like sap in the spring.  I pet Albert, he purrs.  For now, all is well.

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6 Responses to When things fall apart….

  1. suej says:

    You really aren’t having much luck at the moment….do get that kitten

  2. beetleypete says:

    Just when it was going pretty bad, it gets worse.
    I agree with Sue. Get the kitten, and just don’t worry about the expense. It will help both you and Albert, and will also hopefully bring some light into your lives. You certainly need that.
    My thoughts are with you Gretchen.
    Best wishes from England. Pete.

  3. Oh, Gretchen, I am so very sorry. Loss, in these cold winter months, seems magnified…but the loss of a loved one is miserable all on its own. Wishing for a magnificent “turn-around” in your life.

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