If you are a pet lover, then you’ll probably really love this post because you’ll dig deep in your gut of emotions and relate. If you’re not an addicted pet lover, like of dogs and cats, not gold fish or rodents, and those that become part of you and your family, then this story might not be as poignant for you–that’s o.k., too.
So, one of my dearest and closest girlfriends who’s single and lives alone with her two big fat felines, Patches and Amos…yes, there was an Andy, but he disappeared one day while playing outside, had come over for dinner with Ben and me on a Friday night. The next day she called around 4 pm, and she sounded inexplicably exhausted. She proceeded to tell me that during the night, she’d heard this horrible screeching and screaming sounds, like something she’d never ever heard before. At first she thought she was dreaming, then she realized, no, the sounds were real and they were coming from her guest room closet. Sounds like some kind of maybe exorcism movie, huh?
When she followed the sounds, it led to the closet, where she found Patches, her beautiful grey kitty. Only about 7 and heretofore really frisky and doing well. Patches known as the acrobat because she loved to leap and sit atop the kitchen cabinets whisping her tail like the Chesshire cat in “Alice in Wonderland “. Patches the tight-rope acrobat who navigated along an edge without flinching. But, this was a different Patches. Patches was in some kind of excruciating pain…the sounds were piercing and penetrating. There was no way to comfort her. She could not be consoled. My girlfriend, T as I call her, knew she had to do something, so she found an all-night emergency vet’s office about 12 miles from her home, and it was in a not so nice area of town nor an area she’d ever been. Not a comfortable feeling for a single woman. Somewhere about 3-4 a.m., she trekked there alone with Patches who was continuing her shreiking and painstaking sounds. Her body was going limp, she was unresponsive. It seemed like an eternity. Without going into details, it was determined that Patches was severely anemic, had gone into a ‘psychotic’ state, and the vet did two blood transfusions, administered some antibiotics, fluids, and over the hours worked to ‘stabilize’ Patches. After nearly 10 hours, T drove home with precious Patches. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened to T’s past 10+ hours and poor littl’ Patches.
I knew T felt like someone had drilled holes in the bottoms of her feet and all of her energy and emotions had been completely drained…she was physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and had spent a hefty sum of money, which wasn’t in the ‘budget.’ I immediately got together a basket of food and goodies, put my jammies on, kissed Ben goodbye, jumped in the car and drove the 3 blocks to T’s house. Unannounced and unexpected. I knocked on the door, and T answered…of course, she looked like a refugee from war-torn Bosnia, dark circles under her eyes, dragging and red-eyed from crying. I followed her to her study where she’d made a pallet bed to sleep beside Patches whose limp and almost lifeless body was lying under her desk. The vet had given her special cat food, and she was instructed to feed Patches with the syringe every hour to keep fluids in her as well as food.
We both laid there on the floor. Our heads and eyes glued on Patches. Tears trickled down each of our faces as we watched her frail body heave up and down with each breath. We had to get her out from under the desk. She had to be ‘fed.’ Of course, she was not going to move on her own, she couldn’t, she didn’t have the wherewithal to do anything but lie there. T and I contorted our bodies to go under the desk (which was an old principal’s desk), and we gently and carefully scooped our hands under Patches and put her on the floor ‘bed.’ I asked T if she had a box lid. We would make a bed for Patches. She brought one back from the garage, and then we put a soft towel in it. I asked T to get one of her old tee shirts, something with her scent on it, maybe that would comfort Patches. When you have circumstances like this, sometime you need someone else with you to think better…plus, T was slapdab worn out.
For the next few hours, T and I traded off on feeding Patches. I finally talked T into going into her kitchen and eating some of the food I’d brought her–I mean she herself hadn’t had anything since the dinner with us the night before. I prayed that God would pull Patches through this. Gently jarring Patches’s mouth open and sliding the small syringe full of fluid and a little food into the side of her mouth, her precious eyes had a look of love and compassion in them as if she was saying ‘thank you.’ Pushing ever so easily just a few drops and letting her swallow, T and I did this for the next few hours. We petted and stroked Patches…maybe our body energies would transmit some type of healing power. We reminisced with her about all of the good times, when she got lost, Amos being so bossy, her days of being an acrobat. Patches’s limp head hung over the side of the box like a rag doll’s head. There was no purring, only breathing. At one point, as if in a state of disconnection, Patches stood, her legs were shaky. She wanted to go back under the desk. This is where she wanted to be.
I left T’s house that night pretty drained myself but no where like how my sweet friend felt. I went home, updated Ben on Patches, and just hugged and loved on my creek cat, Callie, knowing that every day is a gift and there are no guarantees.
The next morning I arose about 6:30. I didn’t want to call T too early knowing she needed her rest. Around 9 a.m. I called. When she answered, I said, “Hey, T, how’s our patient?” T could barely talk, she was so choked up…”I buried Patches at 8 a.m.” My heart sunk. T had done this alone, no one there to help her. I felt so bad. I should have called earlier. I should have been there with her to pull that shovel from the garage, dig that hole and bury Patches. Later that day, I went by with a bronze/metal statue of a kitty catching a bird–something for Patches’s grave from Ally who loved her so much.
On Saturday night, one week after Patches passed away, I decided to have an ‘in memory’ of Patches dinner for just T and me. Ben was out of town. It would be a celebration of Patches. I wanted to do something really really special! So, I planned a “Boho Dinner in Memory of Patches”! T didn’t expect it at all, and I must say, we laughed, talked and healed in many ways…the kind of healing that only can when you’re in the company of good dear friends.