PONDERING: What a Difference a Year Can Make

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 12:00
Posted in category Ponderings

Winter6A little more than a year ago, I shared with y’all the story of my Winter, my eighteen-year-old kitty who had, after fifteen and a half years with me, gotten sick, and eventually I had to make that awful decision pet owners hope will never happen. Thought I’d update you a little on the last year without Winter.

The first month after I lost Winter was the hardest, of course. Though he really couldn’t play and run those last few weeks, I missed more the companionship he’d given me for so many years. But I would think of those times when he ran and played outside, charging up trees, hiding from me in bushes, and just loving the outdoors. Not having him to talk to, as I’m sure all of you do with your pets, throughout the day was almost the worst. Not being able to hold him and love on him was definitely the worst.

Another month went by and my loneliness during the day got me down more and more. I’d had a cat in my life for nearly the past thirty years, so saying I was used to an animal in the house is an understatement. And more so at that time, as well as now, because I’m on disability and at home much more often than ever before, and I wanted that companionship again.

WinterSo that got me to thinking – I’d never adopted an animal and I was curious how it all worked. I was thinking about perhaps getting a dog this time, since my schedule had so drastically changed. Though my twenty-five career allowed me to create my schedule most of the time, for those long periods when I wasn’t home, a cat was the better choice when they’d be left to their own devices for a number of hours. After mulling it over for a few days, a friend and I headed to our local animal shelter to find out all about the adoption process.

I knew I’d have to have a small dog, but my one concern was the fact we don’t have a fenced-in backyard. So walking a dog would be a major difference in my pet owning. Now, I know for most of you that’s probably not a problem. My disability prohibits any long-distance walking, so I’d have to go with quantity of walks instead of quality in one long trek or two. I picked up the adoption paperwork and then headed out to the kennels to see who was in residence that day. Of course, I pretty much loved all of those dogs, but there were a couple who caught my eye, and we took them out in the yard to get to know them better. Then I decided it was time to go look at the kitties. As we walked into the feline room, my friend told me, “This is where you need to be. Your face just lit up seeing all these cats.” I guess the die was cast.

So I looked around, held a couple of beautiful cats who’d been there a while. And then I came across Clarice. Light orange-ish-brown and white in color, she placed that little cold nose against mine and then snuggled into my neck, and I knew right then I was a goner. My friend knew it too. I walked around with her in my arms for a bit, checking out the other kitties, and then it was time to go home for some reflection.

Was I ready? Is it too soon? I hadn’t, of course, forgotten my Winter. Could my heart handle a new cat when it was still healing? Then I remembered back fifteen years before when I came home after the long Thanksgiving weekend to find my Kiddo, a playful Tabby I’d had for twelve years, dead in the garage. I’d had Winter only a month when I found Kiddo. As we were burying Kiddo in the backyard, that’s when Winter made an appearance after gallivanting around the neighborhood, and it was a balm to my soul to have him to hold and cry into his fur. Was it so different now, wanting another pet to help me heal, just as Winter had done for me when I lost Kiddo? No, I knew Winter would want me to give another cat a good home and a wonderful life that they may not otherwise have, all the things he’d had in his long, happy life.

And that’s how I ended up with my new little girl, Chloe – aka Clarice, a name I didn’t like all that much. This was the first time I’d had a difficult time picking out a name for a cat. I asked friends and family for suggestions, but nothing really sounded right to me. Finally the friend who had gone to the shelter with me said, “Pick the name of your favorite heroine from all those romance books you read!” I laughed at that. While I enjoy a great heroine, I read romance for the heroes. Then she said, “Well, pick your favorite hero and go with his heroine’s name.” Hmmmm. That wasn’t too bad of an idea, since I was having such a hard time. Of course, not that many heroes came to mind super readily, but the one who did was fortuitous, because when I said his heroine’s name aloud, it just clicked for me. Who is that hero, you ask? Dageus MacKeltar from Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning.

And his heroine…Chloe.

Chloe is about three years old, had just had a litter of kittens which someone didn’t want, so they brought both her and her kittens to the shelter. I got to see her again the day I made the adoption final, before she was taken over to be spayed. Picked her up the next day, groggy as could be, but happy to be going to a new home. She loved roaming around, getting to know the house, finding all those nooks and crannies. And she seems to love books to, takes every opportunity that’s presented to flop down on one.

A week or so later, I had an appointment set for her wellness check with the local vet. But then, the night before that appointment, Chloe got sick. She began throwing up – every fifteen minutes or so. Scared me silly. And shades of Winter. That’s what had happened to him at the end of his life, and although my mind knew it probably wasn’t anything close to what had ailed Winter, my heart couldn’t wrap itself around this development – I just couldn’t go through this again. I stayed up with her the entire night, her vomiting gradually lessening and stopping altogether in the early morning hours. We headed to the vet at nearly first light. Everything ended well – it was some kind of obstruction – and we went our merry way.

Until four days later when bad luck struck again. We’re still to this day not sure what happened. Somehow Chloe got her hind paw stuck in…something…and pulled about a two-inch patch of both fur and skin away from the paw. It was horrible. I thought that piece of skin was actually missing, and all I could think about was amputation – the worst-case scenario. What if? You know your mind always comes up with the worst. She went into emergency surgery, the vet sewed her up nice and neat – the skin had “flapped” over, so all he did was pull it back into place to begin suturing.

She healed up just perfect, has had no problem with that paw at all. Running and jumping and playing have not been affected one iota. Thank goodness! And she’s been accident free since then. Another thank goodness! We never have found any evidence that would lead us to figuring out what happened that day. There was no blood anywhere, despite the severity of the wound. Too bad Chloe can’t talk! But all is fine now, and, as you can tell from the picture, this is her favorite place to let it all hang out in the living room!

It will be a year next month since Chloe came home with me. I made the right decision at the right time, even though it seemed too soon back then. She went a long way in healing that big hole in my heart and my life. Not entirely yet, because I do still miss my Winter. I think of him every day – these pics I’ve shared with you today are on my iPhone, so I see him every time I use it. But I know he’s looking down on Chloe and me, knowing we’ll have a good, long life together just like he had with me.

I didn’t mean to write such a long post today! I guess a year just takes up a bit more space than you imagine. But thanks again for sharing some time with me and my beautiful kitties.

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