Saturday, September 7, 2013

My Cat

I haven't written a post in a while.  I feel a strange mix of emotions regarding this fact.  When I first began writing this blog, thinking about cancer was all I did.  I was constantly researching medications, research trials, and symptom relief and I was making a lot of art to cope with the overwhelming nature of being a cancer patient.  Today, I find that I am back to being overwhelmed with the "normal" day to day rhythm of living.  And I guess that is something to be thankful for.

But there are moments where I am reminded of my status as survivor.  It would be nice to say that these moments are infrequent, but in actuality, they happen many times a day.... the doctors appointments are still frequent, the lingering side effects of chemotherapy continue, the fists full of vitamins, supplements, and medications that I take every evening, and the fears of recurrence.  And although I try very hard to use any and all defense mechanisms to keep thoughts of death at bay - they are still quietly present.

This last week, death came and took my beautiful cat, Zinn and broke the hearts of everyone in my family.  The death of a pet is often the first experience that a child has with death.  And when your family has been struggling with a life threatening illness, this concept can be extremely provocative.  I knew that I needed to be careful with my children.  I needed to find ways to talk about the death of Zinn honestly, allow space for mourning, and discuss ways to move through grief.  Although I am not planning on dying until my children are old with children of their own, the way that our family handled Zinn's death felt beyond just important. 

My husband called to tell me that Zinn had died.  He was at the vet office. I realize that my husband's insistence that we try everything we could to save Zinn had a great deal to do with what an amazing friend Zinn had been to him, but also might have had a small part to do with how much my husband wanted to feel he could protect his family from death. One thing that cancer has taught me is the importance of making decisions based on what I value.  Although I have hardly any vacation days in reserve, I needed to be with my husband.  So, I left my office and drove directly to the vet office. We both said our goodbyes, I kissed Zinn's forehead and stroked his paws, we made arrangements for Zinn to be cremated, and then my husband and I went home together.  We lay in bed in each others arms telling stories of adopting Zinn.  We talked about how frightened we were of bringing our daughter home from the hospital, since Zinn was always a bit wild.  But Zinn was amazing with our children.  He adored my daughter and if she cried, he nipped at our heels until we helped her.   We talked about how to tell our children. We cried.   My husband wanted to go to the ocean.  And since the ocean is my healing place, it seemed like a good idea. 

We picked the kids up from school and told them the news as we drove to the ocean.  My daughter was extremely distraught.  My son didn't quite understand.   At the beach, we wrote Zinn's name in the sand... we drew pictures of cats... we shared stories... and we expressed gratitude for having such wonderful family member.
  





11 years ago, Zinn had a terrible reaction to Ketamine, the anesthesia they gave him during the neutering process.    Zinn was paralyzed and blind when we picked him up from the veterinarian.  The vet couldn't tell us for sure what might happen.  We were hopeful - and we were able to nurse him back to complete health.  I feel so lucky that we had the last eleven years with Zinn.  I wish it had been more.   My daughter remarked how there are moments where she is so sad and then moments where she forgets. We talked about how those moments of sadness will lessen and will be replaced with all of our wonderful stories about Zinn and how much we loved him.  My son tells me that Zinn will return on his birthday because my son will bring cat treats.  I gently tell him that Zinn died, and won't be coming back... but that we can remember him in our hearts forever.    I will miss Zinn.  My beautiful wild cat.  And one day, when I do die (which again will be like fifty years from now), I take comfort in feeling that maybe Zinn will be there waiting for me. 






4 comments:

  1. I'm so very sorry about Zinn's death and the loss you and your family feel. That was such a sweet tribute to your precious furry family member. RIP Zinn. Sending lots of love and comfort your way.

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  2. As or family are what we call "cat people" I hear what you are saying. You and your family have done a magnificent job of saying goodbye with memories to follow. We still talk about Peachy who we had from birth in Saudi and who we lost after a decade. For almost year I listened for her to come on the cat door. We did nor replace her for a few years until we adopted Jake and then Flobi. Cat personalities are so individual and so special. My husband is so much missing Jake and thinks he would love sailing with him across the Med. Maybe but not happening! Can't wait to meet you in 6 days!

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  3. Oh so sorry. I know the feeling of losing a family pet member. My blogger friend Pam, just lost Gizmo, her pug family pet member and their family is also taking it really hard. It's very hard to lose a family pet member because they are your family. They fit right in. Sorry. Sending you and your family well wishes and comfort.
    gloria

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