Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday, November 5, 2006 ~ One of the worst days of my life

We've had our cats since October of 1996. We weren't even married yet. They are inbred barn cats from my parents farm. They were actually born in the house. Billy, inside the foot pedal of the organ and Bob, inside the huge console TV. Their mothers are sisters (from different litters) and their dad is also their brother, uncle, grandfather...Billy was born on August 6, 1996 and Bob was born on August 14, 1996. My mom did not want six babies and two adult cats (plus Roscoe, their dad, and Charlie, our original cat) roaming the house. So the babies lived in a big box until they got old enough to crawl out. Every time we'd go home, Rob would pick up a kitty and say "Oh Billybob, I'm going to take you home". And the next time we'd go, he'd pick up a different kitty and say the exact same thing. So when it came time to actually take one home, we decided to take two since we didn't want them to be lonely. So the first cat he picked up had been licking his hand incessantly. Thus, Billy. And the second cat he picked up was the runt of both litters and sucked on the tails of all the other kitties. Thus, Bob. I'm not sure how, but Billy became Rob's kitty and Bob became mine. She was a true baby. And I doted on her just like she was one. She started sucking on her own tail instead of Billy's and after ten years, her tail was no longer gray, but brown. The kitties kept us company, entertained us, annoyed us, cost us a fortune...When we moved to Elk Point, Bob went into such a depression that she quit eating and drinking and her kidneys and liver quit and she weighed one pound. I took her to the vet in Sioux City every day and he gave her IV fluids and kept her on a heating pad. The vet told us to take her home and make her comfortable. This was really the only time she liked Rob. It's not that she didn't like him. She just liked me. And Rob wasn't me. If I were gone for a weekend, she'd lay with him. But the minute I walked in the door, she was my kitty again. She survived thanks to Rob's body heat, cheese, and yogurt. She was so skinny that she was cold all of the time. So she layed with Rob quite a bit. She always loved people food. Enough that she could eat through an entire loaf of bread on the counter. She was the naughty younger sibling. I can just picture Billy saying to her as she jumped up on the counter every night after I'd gotten into bed "You're going to get in trouble". And I'd sneak out into the kitchen, catch her, and then chase her around to spank her. She knew when she was in trouble. But she knew how to love me. When Rob was activated, it was almost like she missed him. She wanted me to hold her at all times. If I sat down, she jumped on my lap. If I stood in the kitchen, she cried at my feet. She also slept on my pillow. No matter that my head was already on it. She just wanted to be near me at all times. So in September of 2006, I'd taken them to the vet to get their shots. Plus, she'd been pulling out the hair on her stomach for a while, so the vet gave her a shot to make her stop itching. Knowing that any change in routine makes her act funny, I wasn't too surprised when she retreated and pouted for a few days. But when she pooped on the floor, I thought it was really weird. Again, not weird was the hair pulling incident. She would get so nervous at times that she'd pull out hair on her body. Usually just a small circle. But this time, her stomach was totally bald. She picked at the incision from having her fixed until it bled. So after the shot, she did stop pulling out the hair. But she didn't stop pooping on my floor. And always behind the entertainment center. She had never in her life done that so I didn't understand why she was still doing this. I figured the first time was out of retaliation for being taken to the vet. So I have Bob pooping on the floor and Billy throwing up. He'd done that quite a bit since we moved here. So I went to the vet to pick up some cat food and told them about these presents being left for me. He gave me some pills to give them to treat them for anything intestinal. I started the pills on Monday. By Wednesday, Bob was out of it. She kept shaking her head and sneezing. I just knew she wasn't reacting well to the pills. So I took them both to the vet on Friday. Saturday morning, Rob had guards and I was home. She didn't get out of bed with me but I figured she just didn't feel good. Around 2:00, I went and got her and brought her out to lay on the blanket in the living room. I thought that being out of bed and in the living room and sun would snap her out of her funk. (I think that's my mom coming out in me!) Saturday night, I realized that she hadn't moved off of the blanket. Meaning she hadn't eaten, drank, or gone to the bathroom. I really started to panic, but couldn't call the vet that late. I called him the next morning and we met at his office. He told me she was dehydrated, her temperature was low, and that her kidneys were functioning at a very low level. He gave her IV's and I took her home and laid her in a blanket in the sun. I laid next to her and we slept for a while. She started to act more alert and would lift her head when I talked to her. But by late afternoon, she looked worse. Her heart rate or breathing (neither we nor the vet could tell which) was about 130 beats/breaths per minute. Rob was home from guards so we took her back to the vet and he said she was basically in a coma and had been probably all weekend. He didn't think she'd make it through the night. So we took her home and she laid on my lap, her favorite place. All day I'd been telling her that she couldn't leave me. But as the time drew near, a calm came over me and I told her it was OK. I said that I loved her and that I knew she loved me and that she didn't have to stay for me. I knew that she was dying, but I couldn't do it myself. I still held out hope that she would recover. Rob kept telling me "We can't let her suffer". So I'd call the vet and then chicken out. At 7:26, she stopped breathing. I knew right away. The vet came over and listened for a heartbeat and told us she was gone. We sat there for an hour. I just pet her and told her how much I loved her. I took off her collar and put it on a stuffed white kitty that Rob had given me once for my birthday. (He used a black marker and colored it so it had Billy and Bob's markings and we call it BillyBob.) Rob got a purple fleece blanket that we'd gotten as a wedding present and that she liked to sit on. I wrapped her in the blanket and laid her in a box. We called my parents to see if they'd make a spot for her with our other pets that have died. Since she always slept with me, I put her at the side of my bed and kept my hand on the box most of the night. I didn't sleep well. I kept waking up but made myself think of something else. At 5:00, Billy came in and laid with me. He laid in her spot and I started bawling. He had stayed away from her all weekend but the vet said that was very normal. I still felt bad for her. So I had to get out of bed because I just couldn't take it. I showered and got dressed and got on the computer to email my friends. Rob was going up to the school for a little while. He said to me "Promise me you won't take her out of the box while I'm gone". I told him I wouldn't. Then he said "Promise me you won't open the box". I said I couldn't do that. And he started sobbing uncontrollably. I figured out that he had opened the box and pet her. He said that she was so cold and hard and he didn't want me to see that. I promised him I wouldn't touch her. He cut some of her hair for me and put it in a plastic bag. When he got back, we went to the farm. My dad was in Aberdeen at a doctor's appointment but my mom had dug a hole for her in the little cemetery we have for our pets. They all have markers over their graves. We stayed for a while then went home. Rob had conferences for school that night and I hadn't thought about how difficult it would be me to go home. I cried and cried and finally cried myself to sleep. Knowing that Rob had conferences on Thursday night, I called my mom to see if she'd come to stay with me. Rob was really good and came home early on Tuesday and Wednesday and would go lay down with me until I fell asleep then would go back out in the living room to watch TV. Mornings are the hardests for Rob as Bob would lay with him for a little bit after I got out of bed. The entire day is hard for me as she was with me wherever I was. When I did laundry, she laid in the warm clothes from the dryer. When I showered, she waited until I was done so she could drink out of the bathub. Everywhere I went, so did Bob. And since I haven't had a child, she was my baby. And we both loved it.

I dream of her often. And I hold her collar. And cry. I know I was blessed to have her in my life for ten years. But I miss her so much. I just want to hold her again.

Billy is having a difficult time adjusting. He had never spent a night apart from her. He would walk around the house and meow and meow. I feel so bad for him.

We now understand how sick she probably was. We think that her pulling out her hair was because of something inside her and she just couldn't quite get to it. She used to jump up on the counter ALL THE TIME. She hadn't done that since we moved here. And she used to run around and act goofy quite a bit. She hadn't done that since we moved either. I also think this was meant to be, as hard as it is for me to accept that she's gone. She wouldn't have handled my leaving well. Especially for four to eight weeks. And she would have been so jealous of a baby. So we've accepted that this is God's way of preparing us for a baby. It all comes full circle I guess.

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