July 24, 2012

Crook's Goodbye

For Sweet P's 15th birthday we took her to the cat shelter, and she picked out two orange kitten brothers whom she named Crook & Shanks (Harry Potter fans will recognize their shared kneazle namesake).

The boys were best friends. They stalked and pounced each other, wrestled, and chased, knocked over knick knacky things we didn't know we had. Every morning at 7 a.m. and every night at 9 p.m. they ran a thundering loop that came to be called the kittiapolis 500. Afterward, they held each other with their paws and bathed each other so fiercely that anyone in their vicinity got a licking, including our Bella Dog.

In June, Crook stopped eating, stopped playing. If you've ever said a slow, sad goodbye to a pet, you know this story. We said goodbye to Crook yesterday. Sweet P is on a cross-country road trip, so I had to tell her during a very fractured cell phone conversation during which she worried that she might have saved him if she'd stayed home.

I've been searching for the lesson here, but at the same time thinking: Again, Universe? I have to learn this lesson again? I lost my dad for fuck sake. What else could there possibly be to learn?

Last week, while Crook was in the hospital being tested and prodded, and we were hoping to save him, Buckaroo and I took a long-planned-for trip to Pennsylvania. We swam, watched fireflies, jumped in puddles, frog-hunted in the creek, and spent long hours chatting and playing with good friends.

Every few hours the most-amazing Dr. Edelstein called from Tufts to update me on Crook and talk over our options, and then I called R at work, and we discussed our options, and the phone calls circled around again, and then I would hang up and cry for a while. After that, I'd pull myself together and go back to vacation. So I learned how to hang on to happy, stay in my joy, and feel the sorrow when I needed to feel it.

Crook's last day at home marked six months since I've given up eating sugar. R left for a work trip in New York, so Buckaroo and I were home alone, and there was a nearly full pack of Oreos in the freezer. They were calling my name, wooing me to feel that sugary numbness. My friends suggested throwing the cookies away, but I was too afraid to even touch them.

Yesterday, after Crook was gone, I sat in my car and cried for a long time, and then I thought about what would make me feel better. I drove through Worcester in silence and imagined myself eating an ice cream sundae, but for possibly the first time ever it didn't appeal to me. And then I had the crazy realization that ice cream would not make me feel better. There isn't one sweet treat I can eat, pill I can pop, booze I can swig, or any pair of shoes I can buy that will make the death of my daughter's kitten less painful. Sure, I might forget about it for half an hour, but just like every other hurt, it will always be waiting for me on the other side, and all I can do is live it. Stay in my joy-- feel grief without despair.

So maybe that's my lesson this time. I'm not sure if there's a lesson for Sweet P or lonely, yowling, Shanks. Or maybe there is no lesson at all. Maybe this is just life.

The Rabbit

it can't float away.
And the rain, everybody's brother,
won't help. And the wind all these days
flying like ten crazy sisters everywhere
can't seem to do a thing. No one but me,
and my hands like fire,
to lift him to a last burrow. I wait

days, while the body opens and begins
to boil. I remember

the leaping in the moonlight, and can't touch it,
wanting it miraculously to heal
and spring up
joyful. But finally

I do. And the day after I've shoveled
the earth over, in a field nearby

I find a small bird's nest lined pale
and silvery and the chicks—
are you listening, death?—warm in the rabbit's fur.

Mary Oliver

1 comment:

Lisa Ahn said...

I'm so sorry Trish. This is a beautiful tribute to a sweet, sweet kitty. "Stay in my joy-- feel grief without despair." -- Very wise words. love you. xoxo