It’s 11:15 pm. Everyone else is asleep and so I’m left on my own. It’s quiet. Ox is sleeping in bed, the sound of his breathing the only noise I could hear before I put on his headphones to play Opacus by Arkasia on repeat. I used to play it in the mornings while I strung the machines at work. I’ve listened to this song most likely more than what would be considered healthy, but it’s helped me through so many times where I wanted to give up but couldn’t.
I don’t know how I feel right now.
I know I feel good. Better than I have in a while, but I also know that I feel sad. I feel tired. I feel… I don’t know what.
When I’m asked if I’m ok I don’t know how to reply. I know I’m not “not ok” but I know that I’m not my total normal self either so I don’t know how to answer the question honestly.
Maybe writing will help figure it out, but I doubt it.
I miss Jon even though he and I talked on the phone just yesterday. Plans have changed a little in that regard. Instead of visiting Orlando in August during his school break I’m most likely going to be flying out to Vegas so my brothers and I can be together then. That means I won’t see my home clinic like I had thought. It means I’ll most likely have to tell Big Bad I won’t be visiting until December at the earliest and that brings up the question of do I want to travel to visit people during what seems to be the hardest time of the year for me.
It will be the third year without mom. My third Thanksgiving. My third birthday. My third Christmas.
I don’t want to travel and pretend that I’m not hurting. At the same time, I don’t know how I’ll be if I stay. I don’t want to bring Ox and his family down with my sadness. I don’t want to disrupt the time he has with his kids.
It’s such a long way off and already I’m worrying about it. There’s a large part of me who just wants to stay here where I can cry or go to the woods to be alone. I guess I’ll figure out that bridge when I get to it, but it’s already on my radar.
I start work Monday. I’m nervous about it. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m not keeping myself busy enough, which I know is a lie but I can’t really think of a logical reason for why I have anxiety over going back.
It will be my first week back at full-time hours. I’ll be in training, shadowing one of the techs. The person I’ll be with the first two days is super awesome. I think I’ll really get along with her. The person I’ll be with the second two days I think I’ll mesh well with once we both get more comfortable with each other. After this initial week of getting me checked off on some of the Nebraska specific policies, I’ll start training down at the Beatrice clinic since that will be my home clinic for the time being. I’m hoping for that to become permanent. I like that location and I would rather not have to learn how to mix bicarb.
I guess I’m nervous about fucking up; about not being good enough.
I had to go in for a few hours yesterday. I actually got paid for those hours so that’s nice. I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was I needed to be there around 8 am. I knew my FA was supposed to show up around 11 am, but that’s all I knew.
Well, luckily she was in the front office when I walked in. She had me complete some mind-numbing computer work so I could gain access to a skill checkoff list. After that, I spent a few hours on the floor. For the most part, I sat and watched. Two other people were in training so they were doing most everything to gain experience. One is a tech, the other is an RN who I think I’ll get along with. I mean… she was talking about MMA… finally, someone who I can gush over this stuff with.
Around 10 am I asked if I was allowed to do anything, to which the reply was yes. It took a bit to get me set up in the computer system so I could effectively document for people. I tried stringing a machine, but the lines this clinic uses are different from the ones I used in Orlando. I know with practice I’ll be fine, but right now I’m fumbling and slow. It’s hard to not feel incompetent. At least I was able to clean the machine and chair down without a problem. And once I was in the system I was able to document like the pro I am, so at least it ended on a fairly positive note.
I know I’ll be fine but there’s still the worry that I won’t be.
Worrying is a misuse of the imagination.
I’ve started cross-stitching again.
I don’t think I’ve written about that. I don’t think I wrote about what it was like to actually travel from Orlando to Nebraska, either.
There’s a lot I haven’t written about or processed through, and maybe that’s why it’s so hard to understand what I feel.
I no longer have Scarlet.
That’s how my journey started.
It’s been something I’ve feared for about a year now.
I worried I would come home one day and she would be dead, or that I would wake up at night to her in distress and have to helplessly watch her suffer through her death. I worried my roommates would be there, alone, while I was at work and they would have to call me to tell me she had died and there had been nothing they could do.
It’s sucked, watching her go from walking normally, to waddling because her hips bother her, to dragging her leg. To watch her not be able to jump onto the bed. I placed a pillow on the floor to help her step up, but at the end, even that wasn’t helping as much as it used to.
Roughly two weeks before my move I went to the veterinary clinic to talk with Scarlet’s vet. I knew that the trip would be hard for Scarlet. I knew the house I was moving into had three young male cats. I knew it wouldn’t be a good living environment for her. I knew her health was failing.
I wanted to talk to a professional.
I told her my story. I told her that I didn’t want to make this choice because there wasn’t a way I could talk to Scarlet and ask her, “Are you in pain? Are you suffering? Do you want to make this trip with all of its hardships?”
My vet said moving Scarlet would be very similar to moving a 90-year-old women. Keeping her in a cat carrier for 12 hours, at least, for two days. Taking her out of her home and relocating her to a foreign place where nothing would be familiar.
She said if Scarlet survived the stress of the trip that it would most likely mark a more significant decline.
She said, in her experience, what she has seen with pet owners who face this decision is that they wish they had done something sooner. They wish they had ended their pets suffering sooner. She said very rarely do pets pass peacefully in their sleep. Usually, it’s painful and sometimes can last for days.
Scarlet deserved better than to suffer.
For the 20ish years she has been my companion, for all the times she didn’t have a choice in moving with me, for all the times she didn’t have a choice in living with other animals, for all the times I stayed out late or didn’t come home because I slept somewhere else, for all the times she was alone, she deserved better.
It sucked making the vet appointment. It’s hard to not hate myself. It’s hard to feel like I wasn’t being selfish.
Ox offered to be there for me so I wouldn’t be alone.
I made the appointment, trying not to cry on the phone as I did.
Ox flew into Orlando on Sunday after one hell of a fucked up flight. It was his first time flying. That alone is something I’ll never be able to repay. He flew down so I wouldn’t have to drive the 21 hours by myself. There was a change over on his flight. Originally he had 30 minutes to get to the second plane, but the first plane arrived late, which meant he missed his connecting flight, which resulted in a three-hour layover.
After all of that, he still helped me take apart my computer desk and pack my car. After all of that, he still hugged me as I tried not to break down in the lobby of the veterinary clinic.
They do the procedure in two steps.
The first step is a normal sedative which puts them to sleep. The vet waits a few minutes to give the sedative time to fully take effect. I knelt on the floor so I would be level with the table and wrapped my arms around Scarlet while the shot was administered, petting her the whole time, trying, and failing, to not cry.
Scarlet was my most faithful companion aside from my mom. She’s the reason I survived Warren #2. I couldn’t force her to go through a move that I knew would be awful for her and yet I didn’t want to let her go. I wanted to be selfish but I didn’t want to make her suffer and all of it sucked. Every part of every possible decision sucked.
She was in pain. She couldn’t use the litter box properly because she was almost to the point where she couldn’t walk. She was matted and ratty looking because she wouldn’t groom herself and wouldn’t let me brush her because it hurt her.
She was my little old lady and she was hurting and there was nothing I could do to change it because that’s part of life; growing older, being mortal. Aging. Dying.
It’s all part of this fucking circle that I’m so tired of having to accept over and over again.
I held her as she fell asleep; as she finally looked peaceful. I petted her and told her I loved her and that she would always be my baby cat.
A few minutes later the vet came back in and administered a second shot. I don’t remember the term they used for it, but essentially it over sedates them, causing their heart to stop.
They said there’s no pain. And I so desperately need that to be true and I wish there was a way to know for sure, but there isn’t. It’s just blind faith and that sucks because since I don’t know for sure that it doesn’t hurt I feel like a betrayer. What if it does hurt? What if she was in agony in her final moments but her body was so sedated that she couldn’t express it?
The vet listened to Scarlet’s heart and told Ox and I when she was gone; when Scarlet was dead. They said I could have as much time as I needed and quietly left the room.
I don’t remember how long I cried. I know eventually I stood up and I took out the brushes and lint roller I had brought with me.
I had planned to do this ever since I had made the appointment. I was going to brush all of the mats out of Scarlet’s fur. It was going to be my way of honoring her one last time much the way a warrior’s body is prepared before being taken to the funeral pyre. I was going to brush her and care for her before sending her back to the Universe.
It took forever. I swear I got another three cats worth of fur off of her. I was also covered in fur by the time it was done, which in an odd way was comforting because it wasn’t any different than when we were at home. Only this time she wasn’t in pain while I did it.
I arranged her head on her paws. I told her one last time that I loved her and then I left the room.
I arranged to have a private cremation so I could have her ashes.
I guess in a way mom prepared me for this. I know that the ashes are not Scarlet. They are the ashes of her vessel, not of her. The energy she was is returned into the vastness of the Universe and what I hold in the small, beautiful wooden box is merely a physical representation of what once was.
I have her ashes with me, sitting on the shelf where I have mom’s urn.
I did what I thought was kind. I don’t know if there’s right or wrong in this situation. Everything is always a shade of gray anyway. I still miss her. I don’t feel like the scum of the Earth. I don’t think I’m the worst person to ever walk the planet, but I’m still struggling with my choice.
Mom had to make this choice a few times with previous pets. I know she had a really hard time when she had to euthanize Cleo.
Cleo ended up having stomach cancer. She would eat, but no matter how much she ate she would lose weight because everything she consumed went into feeding the cancer rather than her body. She was suffering and so mom made the choice to end that suffering.
My situation isn’t so clear as that. Scarlet wasn’t necessarily sick, but I do believe she was in pain.
I will never know what choice she would have made for herself. All I can do to try to cope with my choice is to know that I was her caretaker and that I cared for her for over 20 years. If I could go back and do things differently I would. I would get less annoyed with her when she meowed about her water dish. I would buy more cat treats. I would cuddle with her more.
But I can’t do that. I can’t go back and change anything. I did what I thought was my best at the time. And I made what I thought was the kindest choice for her in the end.
None of us can live for forever. If given the option to continue living my remaining days in pain or to pass into stillness while in the arms of someone I love, I would want the latter.
I don’t know what else to say about this.
It was and still remains the hardest part of my move. There’s still a lot I haven’t written about that I don’t feel like getting into.
I miss my companion even though I know this chapter wasn’t meant for her. There is so little left of the time when mom was alive. It’s hard to not feel like a different person.
I need to go for now. I haven’t fully cried and mourned over Scarlet’s passing yet. Maybe I’ll be able to write about all of the good stuff that’s happened to me in my next post.
All of this needed to be written, though.
All of this needed it’s time.