September 24th, 2005

Tom Lehrer is Smug

(no subject)

They're probably right when they say the first night home is the hardest. For any kind of invalid.

We picked Martha up tonight at Angell. She's real weak. I don't know if it's the dope she's on or what. She walked a bit from the stairs tonight, down one step and around the corner, and that was where her back legs gave out. It broke my heart to watch her flop right down there and I know she wasn't happy to experience it, either. When I wasn't looking, however, she walked all the way to the chair and hopped up. But when I went to pick her up, she was limp again, one paw's claws stuck in the chair fabric (she's always had a problem retracting her clawses.) The arm around one paw's "wrist" is rudely shorn for her IV though the regular paw part is normal. As a result she looks like she's holding a paw on a stick. My neuroses towards medical treatment kick in when I glance at her arm (I get uncomfortable shivers when I see certain medical treatments. Some stitches are fine but others eek me out.)

Abbie's being as polite as he can. That's good.

Along with Martha came a healthy amount of medicine:

* Two forms of antibiotics, each to be taken twice daily, one for ten days, the other for five.
* One appetite stimulant, to be given twice daily for three days.
* Pepcid AC (she gets a box just like me!) to be given half a pill twice daily for five days.
* A liver treatment medicine to be given twice daily for five days.
* One thing I've probably forgotten but it's on the list.

Also included are five days' worth of wet Science Diet prescription A/D food to be given through a syringe. We're to feed her one can a day in four feedings. The smell takes some getting used to but honestly, it's gonna be a smell I'll remember for quite some time. I mix the food with a little warm water (also suggested is chicken stock or anything else she'll find palatable) and load the syringe (we were thoughtfully given two syringes; one in Heroin Junkie and the other Sheep Suppository size) and bring dinner to the cat. Our first dinner together was a quiet affair and rather limp, but I consider it a victory. Martha lapped the stuff up just fine for most of it, but when she started letting it just dribble back out of her mouth, I figured she was done. I told her it's going to give her that strength back. She may believe me.

The liquid food left her paws and nose cold, even after I wiped it up, and for a moment I was worried she'd been sent into some kind of kitty shock with this feeding. Her energy seems to be fluctuating and she goes from strong to weak quite quickly, but I keep telling myself this is the first night. We just have to take things moment by moment, and see how she's doing in the morning. Currently she's resting on my bed so I can watch her overnight. I'm supposed to go to work tomorrow but I'm so goddamn exhausted I may have to just call in. Besides, I gotta feed the kitty.

Good night.

April 30, 1997 - September 24, 2005

Martha curled up on the bed last night and slept the whole night through with us. She moved from the edge of the bed, where I'd put her, to alongside my leg, to the middle of the bed for maximum warmth. When I woke up later on she had left the bed and was lying on the floor, limp and unresponsive and cold and breathing shallow breaths. We picked her up and brought her downstairs and I tried to give her food. No go. Angell said to bring her over immediately, and Neil said he was on his way. Things weren't looking good at all. I steeled myself for the eventuality that once we got to Angell, there may be no other choice but to peacefully help Martha end her suffering.

It turns out we didn't have to do that.

I left Martha on Lauren's lap while I went upstairs to get ready. No sooner had I started a quick note here than Lauren called me down. Martha had stopped breathing. I sat down, cradled her head in my hand, put my other hand on her side, and cried.

Martha died after a final night at home, with those who loved her. She died on a lap, where she liked to perch. She died in the sun, where it was warm. She died as she was being petted. She knew it was time and that this was right and safe and comfortable, and she let go.

Neil and Beckie showed up and sat with us. I had Martha on my lap then and was stroking her side, telling the story of her life. You have to honor the life. You have to honor it even as it's just left. I explained how the first time I met Martha, she was six weeks old and hiding under a dresser. A little tiny kitten, the runt of the litter, in a household with small children. I told of how we adopted her and how she first learned to run on hardwood floors and skidded into the wall over and over again. I told of how she lived in cupboards, tromped on top of air ducts to make big booming sounds, and how she developed an affinity for french fries. I described how she came out of her shell as she grew up and how she adopted me as her guy. Laps were fair game, headbutts given without fair warning. I listed nicknames, I described Cana holding the kitten in her sweatshirt up to the window to watch the traffic go by. I told of how Martha would jump up on the bed to watch me read at night -- nothing intrusive, she just watched me -- and then, when I put the book down and turned out the light, she'd watch over me for a while, then hop off the bed and find something else to do. She helped keep me sane during some very insane periods.

We transferred Martha, whose bladder at this point had given way, to the cat carrier and laid her on the same maroon towel we'd used since she was a kitten. Jo came by, having heard from Beckie and Neil, and brought in the ice cream. Three pints of Ben & Jerry's. We brought out bowls and spoons and the five of us had a wake for the cat. ("No whisky," Jo said, "Cause it'll make us maudlin.") Abbie stopped by briefly, first intrigued by the dairy product, but when he stood up on his hind legs to see what was in the cat carrier, he dropped back down and quickly ran out of the room. Then he walked slowly from the dining room to the kitchen and slumped on the ground. It was heartbreaking. He knows. (Later, he'd walk back up to the carrier, peer in again, and hiss. WAKE UP, YOU. THIS ISN'T FUNNY.)

Dad is letting me bury Martha in Hatfield on Monday. We'll dig a hole under the banana bean tree and say a few words. Many of the beloved pets who have gone before will share that backyard with her: Maggie the dear, sweet golden retriever, Buffy Ste. Marie the tiny ancient yellow cat with a loud, imperious mouth, Bruiser the good-natured husky who loved to sing, and Blackie, the Upstairs Cat who was often heard in the living room but never seen. She'll rest well in the beautiful Connecticut River valley of her birth.

You lived a good life, little pirate. I shall miss you terribly and think of you often and wonder through tears why your time came so soon. Rest well. You are now one of the Cats Who Have Gone Before (not being a household who believes in the whole Rainbow Bridge thing) and we shall sing your song.

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Good night, little cat.