marahmarie: For those who've passed (candle)

I woke up today to see my boy was back, sitting in a fancy red paper bag up on the dresser across from my bed.

I recall sucking my breath in at the sight and thinking of the rage I was driven into by what the receptionist, an extremely rude, thoughtless girl of perhaps 17-20 years old, told me about the "beautiful presentation" which she ordered me "not to worry about" because cardboard boxes and plastic bags are always the most respectful way to memorialize your loved one's life, are they not?

This was five minutes after the vet tech took his body away - which was only seconds before the same ridiculous girl burst into the room, saw me crying, shouted "Oh!!!" at the top of her lungs and almost made me jump out of my chair. Once she collected herself (she acted like she'd seen a ghost, so this took her a few seconds) and without a drop of sympathy in her way-too-cheerful voice, she said I ought to go pay for Stuie's services "right now" and "just get it over with" (which was probably her making a lot of assumptions about my ability and willingness to pay, or she wouldn't be trying to rush me, which was another extremely angering thing to have to deal with at that moment).

Would you be driven into a nearly homicidal rage by her words, timing and actions? God forgive me, I know I was.

The only thing...the only thing...that stopped me from totally losing my mind, that kept me quiet and my reactions rather slow and blunted, was realizing she's still young and was proving it through her words and actions, proving she knows nothing of life, nor death, nor grief. I've had to jump this damned turnstile so many times; she's apparently never had to jump it at all. Because if she had, she'd know how to act, and it would not be the way she acted.

On top of that she's probably not trained well (perhaps not at all). So even while I was in a rage, I had to force myself to understand her situation and forgive her for how she was making me feel. But it was hard. I was in shock now, in addition to all the grief and misery. But I had to think of her, of what she can't know, what I wouldn't really want her to know if it was up to me.

That aside, my stomach was in knots today as soon as I saw the bag over what she told me moments after he died about how he was coming back. Maternal guilt: I want the best for him, but box in a bag or bag in a box was all I was getting and I knew it and even as I poured my first cup of coffee and went back in the room to be with him it was making me sick.

After more coffee and crying, I opened the bag and peered inside it to see a small rectangular box wrapped in a thin layer of white tissue. I felt my blood rise, pulled the accompanying leaflets and booklets out and walked away from the box before I could get even more upset. The papers included a small book full of grief counseling tips, with a few pages I found helpful - or at least sort of comforting.

At the end was a poem about the Rainbow Bridge. I never knew what it was so I decided to find out. The last few lines tore me up because they're part of the grief of having lost someone - that is, wondering if you'll ever see them again. The poem speaks to that and offers a way to envision it, instead of treating the topic like it doesn't exist or matter.

Yes, it does exist and it does matter. A lot.

Anyway, I'm moving again (the house I'm in is nice enough, but having housemates is so unmanageable that I'll be joyously wandering off soon to live without them); because of that my room is stuffed with all the things I'll need to pack shortly, so it's not like I looked around today and saw a lot of room for Stuie's...bag. I got so upset at having to put his bag up after reading the grief book, I couldn't go through with it.

Finally I made room on a wooden shelf next to the TV and nestled him up on that. A truly awful place to put him, but until I get situated elsewhere there is nothing better. Once the bag was up, I just looked at it for a while. Finally, morbid curiosity took over: I had to know what was in the bag. I put the bag back up on the dresser. I took the box out of the bag. I undid the tissue around the box.

The box was not made out of cardboard.

The box is made of strong, heavy cherry with a nice hasp on the front. Inside, along with the keys, were his ashes inside of a black velvet bag with a golden pull-string; inside of that was a heavy plastic bag sealed with a rubberband, with a dog tag around that with the name of the crematorium on it. Through my tears, I began to smile.

Outside of the innermost bag (because I want it airtight - but we have a vacuum sealer, so I might just go ahead and take care of that myself) it was a beautiful presentation, after all.

After putting it all back together and putting the amazingly not-cardboard box back up on the shelf, I spent another half hour deciding if I should file a complaint on the receptionist and how - should I call the vet? The girl in question will answer the phone. Write a longhand letter? I'm sure she gets all their mail.

Even assuming I could route the letter directly to the vet and be assured by somebody that she won't be allowed to open it, it would take so much time and energy to write, and I'm not trying to make her lose her job, so I hesitate to complain. Ideally I'd only want her to be retrained, for them to show her how to do Human Being correctly around other suffering, much more unhappy human beings.

And for them to make her describe the box correctly so people don't think she's pulling a fast one by telling them not to worry (which is an obnoxious and rather trying way to put it - of course I'm going to worry!) as it's such a "beautiful presentation" when what she was describing is as ghetto as you can get outside of them dumping his ashes on the floor and making me sweep them up myself.

Anyway, it's done, and thankfully it was a beautiful presentation, in spite of how she put it.

marahmarie: For those who've passed (candle)

They're at the vet's. I didn't get the call to come get them until after 6 tonight, and the office was already closed by then. I'm going to see if I can get someone to pick them up for me in the morning. I don't have an urn, but I do have a promise from someone that he'll handcraft a "beautiful" wooden box to keep him in...eventually. Yes, please do take your time, not like he's already dead or something.

OK, so I'm pissed. And I'm not sure why, why I expect anyone else to care about him as much as I did. So I'm feel vaguely, quite irrationally guilty, on top of everything else, because outside of my mom, no one did or does care about him as much. No one ever will. With my mom gone (he was her cat before she passed) I'm now completely alone in that.

I probably shouldn't say this because in doing so I'm going to get even more pissed and it's going to show, but when I asked how he was coming back, I was told not to "worry about it" because it's a "beautiful presentation". So I asked for specifics and was told he comes back in a plastic bag inside of a red cardboard box. And I just instantly wanted to kill everyone within a 20 mile radius of that office because by the sound of it (no example pictures were offered nor presented) it's not beautiful enough for my baby, because it's not, and never will be. Oh, my God....

Anyway...at least he's coming back. And I'll deal with the details of that as best as I can. Because I just don't have any other choice.

marahmarie: For those who've passed (candle)

It was chronic kidney failure. I had him put down today. I held onto him until they finally had to take him away from me.

I get the ashes back in 7-10 days so at least that part of him will be back with me soon. In that sense we'll be together again.

He was my everything.

The doctor said, "The good news is you couldn't have done anything for him. He's probably been in kidney failure since the day you took him home from the shelter", the excessive thirst and excessive urination from Day One being the clearest signs he could point to.

When he died he was dehydrated, anemic and had a creatinine level of 7.5. High end is 5.0, the level at which death is nearby, inevitable.

The doctor was not sure how or why he was still alive.

He said Stuie was "like a raisin", so much so he had to set up a line and shave around it to draw blood; most of his veins were so dried up, it would've been impossible to do, otherwise.

He told me his organs were shutting down.

He was also the second veterinarian in less than a year to say that was the worst ear surgery he's ever seen in his life, and to describe the doctor who performed it as "a butcher".

I'll always, always love you, Stuie.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

I had to google it, and just my luck, the results confirm it's not possible for squirrels to burp. Unfortunately, this little guy - or gal - or heck, can squirrels have multiple gender identities? If so, what do I call it without asking what it prefers? Is it alright to call it "it", or does this offend someone, or is it imagined that if the squirrel could understand it would offend the squirrel? I mean, do we have to do this again, only for squirrels this time? Anyway, it burped, and unfortunately (as I was going to say before I went off on a tangent about squirrel gender identity) I didn't have time to catch it on camera. But I swear, it burped.

But only after the squirrel drove my cat nearly insane by hanging upside down under the dining room roof eave for many minutes in between bursts of running at top speeds, then freezing before hanging upside down again did it finally - and quite unexpectedly, as it hadn't been eating anything I could see - let out this burp. Are squirrels related to bats, by any chance? I thought my cat would hyperventilate or have an actual heart attack. He was standing under the squirrel, up high on a built-in shelf, with his eyes ready to pop out of his head while he literally beat the shelf with his left paw, he was so frustrated by it. All he wanted was to get that squirrel.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

This is my cat Stuie (video link: NSFW). He is, among other things, a 21lb. black and white long-haired love muffin who behaves more like a dog than a cat who would not know how to act aloof if he fell over the training manual for it. The video is NSFW only because we (good-naturedly) each drop the f-bomb just once (well, my fiance drops it twice - we need to clean our mouths up already).

Going by the condition of his teeth the Animal Control Center estimated he was seven years old when I adopted him. Mom and I got him on her birthday (Nov. 30) three years ago. I had a hard time after she passed getting used to the idea that now I am his mom. But love him? Oh. My. God. Yes. I. Do.

He's had the strange habit of drinking only with his paws since the day I got him. Also, because he's incredibly large, he has to drink out of an incredibly large bowl (he deliberately tips anything smaller, then stands in front of it and looks at me like, "Do something about it - gotcha again!") that he's cuddled since the day I got it for him.

After I moved in with my fiance, it soon became clear his dog (also completely black and white, a rather huge Dalmatian/Golden Retriever mix) and my cat would have to drink from the same water bowl. I've almost always fed Stuie on the fireplace hearth in the bedroom so the dog can't steal his food (a huge problem when I first moved in and fed Stuie where I usually feed him - in the kitchen). For the first few months I faithfully refilled his (standard-size) water bowl each day but he consistently tipped it over or flat-out ignored it in favor of the dog's much bigger water bowl back in the kitchen. For the next three months.

The problem is, the bowl in the video is Stuie's water bowl that I got for him over a year ago, and he's incredibly possessive of it, just as he's been since the day I bought it (shortly after my mom passed). He didn't have other cats or dogs to share it with back then but no matter; the bowl is his and he will cuddle it practically day and night, competitors around to compete with him for it or not be damned.

So I'm buying another (huge) water bowl next week, since the dog, big as she is, lives totally in fear of the slightest twitch of water-bowl possessiveness from my cat, to the point where I have to separate Stuie from the bowl a few times a day just to make sure the dog can get near enough to drink without any possessive-cat issues.

In the meantime, most all people I've lived with have been pretty blown away by how Stuie will only drink with his paws. I find it pretty amusing, too, so last night my fiance decided to capture Stuie's water drinking for posterity. Enjoy.