Saturday, March 31, 2012

Losing a friend

Today I took my cat to the vet.  I knew what was going to happen, which is why I had delayed the visit in the first place. But she was thin - and though mostly she seemed content enough, she would not eat. She had renal failure, her kidneys were no longer working properly.

At 14 that's not unsurprising for a cat of her age. But today, I lost a friend. In the last few months of my life when I have started living a very different life, she was always there when I came home. I would call her as soon as I came in, and she would sleep on my bed and keep me company.

She didn't understand herself why she could not eat, and it was so sad to see her getting thinner and thinner; when she ate a little it was a small victory, but it really wasn't fair to keep her going in such a situation.

I took her to the vet who has always looked after our pets. Though retired, he still has a surgery next to his house.  After telling me what was wrong and what we should do - what I knew we should do - I held her and he injected her leg and she relaxed. Then he gave her the full dose and she fell into a deep coma. I put her back into the cat carrier and took her home.  She was deeply asleep - he thought she had already gone, but as I cradled her in my arms back at home, I knew she was still with me just for that last goodbye.

Her heartbeat was very, very faint. She gave a sort of purr, and then there was nothing. She was soft, warm, limp and so terribly thin. My poor lovely little Melissa - I shall miss you my friend. So will the children who have known you for a good portion of their lives. She and her sister Ace (who passed away a few years ago) brought us lots of happiness and companionship - and the odd dead mouse.

That's a cat's way. And we shall miss her very much.

I buried her at the bottom of the garden, and tomorrow I shall plant something above her grave as a lasting memory.

I keep thinking she will be there, on the top step, or on my bed, or in the kitchen round my legs. It will take a while for that feeling to pass I know.

She was only a cat, but she was my friend.

Friday, March 02, 2012

This single life - part two

When I was working at Essex, I knew I had a fixed term post (maternity cover) and that after that... well, a whole undecided future lay ahead of me. I had, in theory, no home, no job and no idea where I was going or what I was going to do. The house sale was going through, the split was going ahead, and I was planning to live in temporary accommodation on my own until things were sorted.

One thing that kept nagging me was the desire to travel. I wouldn't be rolling in it from the house sale (alas finances mean that I can probably never be a house-owner again), but I would have sufficient cash to let me travel. I half had in my mind that at the end of my time in Essex I would up and travel.
The very rare Northern White Rhino

I have always wanted to visit the Amazon, I became fascinated by Africa whilst at the conservation charity, and I could, perhaps, at last visit some of the places that I'd been talking about as a conservationist.

So that was, broadly, my plan. Kids would live with dad, I would have no job and no fixed abode and just go off on an adventure.

Never works out how you think, does it?

By chance, I saw a job near Cambridge that more or less matched all of my experience and skills. And so - instead of trekking off into the broad wild world, I settled in a new job, found a new place to live, and resumed an orderly life. And I like it. I am, after all, someone who likes stability and knowing where I am going to be and what I am going to do.

I do still desire to travel though - and so I visit my friend in Arizona as often as I can. You can fit the UK into Arizona alone about six times, so there's plenty to see there (ok, no rhinos but I have seen amazing birdlife and even a wild coyote - which is like seeing a fox here, I guess).  But the lure of Africa still tickles my imagination (though looking at prices of tours, I won't be going in a hurry).

I am single - I can go on holidays I choose (as long as I can afford them) and don't have to worry about what anyone else wants to do. I can please myself. I like doing things that others may think mad, or just boring (what's wrong with sitting in a hut by a reed bed for three hours, in the small hope that you may see a bearded tit?).

Rhino photo credit: Fauna & Flora International