Returning home with an empty cat carrier

Our cat died this week. She was 16, so this wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. Our veterinarian is Irish, so when she said things to us like, “Your cat likely has cancer” and “We need to think about euthanasia,” the words, spoken in her lovely accent, sounded almost pleasant. The reality was anything but.

Bill, my son, and I went to the vet to say our good-byes (Posey had been there overnight receiving IV fluids, a treatment we sought when we still had hope that she might recover). My daughter didn’t want to go. We held our sweet old lady kitty, loving on her and listening to her purr feebly.   The vet told us to let her know when we were ready. I’m never going to be ready, I thought, wondering if there would be some zen-like moment when I would just know. There wasn’t. We just had to get on with it. The vet tech gave her a shot of muscle relaxer, and afterwards I held her on a blanket on my lap. She went limp, like a kitty protestor being arrested at a pro-catnip rally. The vet sat beside me and administered the anesthesia. Within just a few moments, she was gone. I expected there to be some sort of different energy in the room, some sort of change in the atmosphere, but I didn’t even realize she was dead until the vet checked her heartbeat and told me there wasn’t one. The vet put her arm around me and gave me a hug. “You can stay with her as long as you like. Just put her on the exam table when you’re ready to leave.” The idea of “putting” my baby somewhere—like she was a bag of groceries or a gift at a birthday party—made me feel angry. I know the vet didn’t mean it that way; if Posey was still alive and she had said that, I would have thought nothing of it.

Although no one told me that this would happen, I expected that when she passed, her eyes would close, but they didn’t. This disturbed me. How could she be gone if her eyes were still open? I tried to close them, but they wouldn’t shut, which disturbed me even more. By the time I laid her on the table, they had turned from their vivid, clear green to a dark, murky shade, like the color that develops in the water you use to rinse out a paintbrush between watercolors. It was awful and sad and final.

Afterwards, as we walked up the stairs to our house, a monarch butterfly fluttered by, swooping and gliding around us before flying away. I hadn’t seen one in years, and while I don’t believe that this butterfly was somehow embodying Posey’s spirit or that it was a sign from her that she’d crossed the Rainbow Bridge, it was somehow reassuring. I don’t believe that she’s in heaven or that she’s watching over us or that she was reunited with our other cat, Abby, who died almost exactly a year ago. In fact, seeing as they barely tolerated each other’s presence here on earth, they would both be really pissed if they had to spend eternity together.

I keep telling myself we did the right thing. On Cheers, Sam Malone once said something like, “You know you’re doing the right thing if it sucks really bad.” Oh, how this sucks.

Today I am missing my girl, but trying to be positive by thinking of all the things I can do now that I haven’t been able to during the 16 years we had a cat in the house. I can finally put houseplants anywhere I want and not worry that she will munch on them. I can hold the front door open without fear that she will run out into the street. I can use my laptop without her trying to sit on it. There are no more litter boxes to scoop, no more cat puke to clean up, no more cat hair to vacuum up. Somehow, though, these are cold comforts.

Little known fact:  Posey was a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America

Little known fact: Posey was a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America


Stove up

Our new stove is apparently trying to bring about our financial ruin while attempting to kill or disfigure people. Our previous stove was an asshole, too. It was an under-achiever most of its life, never succeeding at the task it was born to do. I’m pretty sure there’s no situation in which it should take a minimum of 45 minutes to bring a pot of water to a boil, unless you are using a Bic lighter as a heat source.

Our old stove was electric, which I’ve always hated, so we opted for a gas stove this time around. That meant we needed to have a gas line run to our kitchen. People who had done this before told me that it cost them between $200 and $300 for this service since they already had a gas line somewhere else in their house (as do we). So you can imagine the heart attack I nearly had when the first guy to come out and give us an estimate told us it would be $1,000. The next guy quoted us $800. I have no idea what the third guy’s estimate was. He spent about 30 minutes longer here than the other guys, took a bunch of pictures, drew a couple of sketches, and coughed uncontrollably for several minutes at a time. He was about 150 years old and his lungs sounded like they were filled with gravel, and I worried the entire time he was here that he might simply fall over dead. We never heard from him again, which is concerning.

After forking over an insane amount of money for the stove (apparently the “major” in major appliance refers to the hit your bank account will take) and the $800 just to be able to have the stove live here, we realized that our above-the-stove microwave was going to look like crap with the new stove. The colors were different (the microwave was white; the new stove stainless steel), plus the old microwave would look very dated next to the sexy young stove. So we forked over another wad of cash for a new microwave. Then more money was forked over to have them both installed. Somewhere during all of this, it was brought to our attention that an electrical doohickey of some sort was not up to code, so we had to fork over more cash to an electrician so our house wouldn’t burn down.

But it didn’t end there. The outlet the stove plugs into worked just fine for the previous stove, but it’s not compatible with the current one. So there’s now a thick, gray cord with a huge, non-removable safety warning tag stretched across my counter so it can reach an outlet it will play nicely with. Of course, this problem wasn’t detected until after the electrician had come and gone. Which is probably a good thing, because he’s going to have to come back anyway. There’s a smoke detector not far from the stove, and now that there’s an open-flame situation happening in my kitchen, it starts singing the song of its people every time I turn on a burner. The smoke detectors in our house are all linked, so that if one goes off, all the others do, too. So when I try to cook dinner, an entire chorus of smoke detectors starts to perform a concert. To prevent that, my husband had to remove the prima donna from the kitchen, leaving a hole in the ceiling with a lovely tangle of wires dangling out of it. It complements the cord on the counter quite nicely.

But the stove isn’t content with just bleeding us dry financially. It seems out for actual blood. I guess I’m not yet used to cooking under normal heat conditions because last week I heated up a skillet of olive oil and butter and was placing some scallops in to sear when one of them literally leapt out of the pan, splattering my wrist and forearm with hot grease.

But I can finally make pasta in less than an hour. That’s something, I guess.



Range of emotions