Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Changes Make Me Feel Like I’m Leaving You Behind

black cat in basket in garden
I thought the basket was for spinach, but apparently I was misinformed.

Last week was an unusual one with many mixed feelings, interesting triggers for recent memories to flood back in, changes in treasured spaces, and though the changes are bittersweet I am glad for something to help me start to move along, even up to today. Accepting change to places that hold memories is difficult, as is looking at those places unchanged where your beloved used to be and now is most painfully absent. I am accepting her absence but not her loss, and I find that the unanswered questions I still have need answers before I can move on. I have a brief journal of my thoughts over the past week about losing Mewsette addressed to both her and to me, and my realizations.

 

Sit by my side, come as close as the air,
Share in a memory of gray;
Wander in my words, dream about the pictures
That I play of changes.*

Sunday, July 9, was the one month anniversary of Mewsette’s passing into spirit. On that day I had some indecisions about what I wanted to include in this post as I’d noted last week. Ultimately I decided to hold that background information for a future article, but once the week starts with renovations right now I have little time to sit down to work. I’ve also had some realizations since Sunday, but I will keep this post to my thoughts and changes through last week.

black cat on chair in garden
Viewing the world from her chair.

JULY 3: A flashback to a more hopeful day two months before

I swung into Sheetz on Rt. 50 to put gas in my car and as I circled around the pumps I drove past the parking space I’d pulled into on the way back from Companion’s First with Mewsette on May 3. The imaging results had been so odd and frightening, and the low thyroid, kidney issues, and unsettling GI issues, after the previous two weeks in April when she’d really seemed to start failing. I stopped at Sheetz because I did have to put a little gas in the car but I felt an urgency about Mewsette. Before I chose a gas pump I decided I’d email Ingrid right then for a reiki session, pulled into the parking space and described the test results. We both had positive feelings about Mewsette’s condition and treatments, and later reiki showed Mewsette’s energy was strong and she felt overall good, just kidneys and some nausea and she pulled an amazing amount of reiki. Mewsette was calm and happy in the car.

Same time of day, same rainy afternoon, just two months before, I realized—May 3, July 3. Funny how things come back. I had to sit for a while and remember Mewsette on that day, how hopeful we were, and savor that.

black cat on chair in garden
Looking at the world together.

JULY 4: Changes, leaving you behind in a way

Some work in the house coming up (that’s the work that’s happening now), being active feels good and I feel something lifting from me as I begin packing and carrying things, work I haven’t indulged in since before you left us. But I hate hate hate the thought of leaving you behind when these welcome changes come. I worried about caring for you while this work was being done all over the house, but I would have managed.

I put up my tent to hold basement things in the garden where you used to walk. I had cut down the overgrowth that filled the beds as I took care of you and since you’ve been gone. I pulled everything from around your chair, then later removed it, deteriorated as it had gotten though you still loved it, once your throne as the Garden Faerie Queen. I had wanted the vines and plants to grow all over your chair so I could photograph you on it with all the wild stuff around you.

black cat on chair in garden
Mewsette settles on her garden chair.

Garden chairs are not meant for keeping, they are retired from service to slowly rejoin the earth so I will observe that practice, but I will put it back out in the garden after all of this is over and I rework the garden. For now it holds too much of you for me to see it damaged in any way. Me and my attachments, but I indulge myself because the resulting pain is, well, very painful.

The place you used as your outdoor litter box is covered over, one of the places you visited on your last day. I still sense you out there, strolling purposefully around on the bricks as I carry things out of the basement, inspecting them with Mimi as you did when I set up for open houses, and when I cleared things from the basement in 2020 when I got the furnace. You and Mimi were miffed that I closed you out of the basement while I had the door open and you had to stay inside, or be on your leashes again if you were outside while I was working.

two black cats on leashes
Mewsette and Mimi on leashes in October 2020.

JULY 6: Visualizing you in the future kitchen

Met with the cabinets guy to plan out the kitchen. I had an old plan that depended on adding a window, but decided against it for cost and complications, and I can visualize the new kitchen with real cabinets and what lighting I’ll include and the places for cats. That current kitchen where all my cats all through the years have spent most of our time together, gathered for warm Saturday mornings while I’m baking to random afternoons or evenings when I’m cooking and everyone gathered on the table or the cabinet, especially on the cabinet, in the middle of the room to watch the show. I still picture you there with your brothers and your mother, and all the others.

But when the new kitchen is in place I am afraid I will lose you in there because your memory won’t be a part of it, and those things that were part of your memory will be gone. I know you would have loved to explore it, and I know the places where you would have settled to hang out and nap, especially having my garden of houseplants on a new table by the window, remembering how you loved to show off your green eyes among the plants. As this work came closer to becoming a reality, I pictured you in my visualization of the new kitchen.

black cat on chair in garden
Yes?

JULY 8: Changes make me start letting go

Now as the work has proceeded and we look for where the water from the sump pump in the basement can go, I realize we’ll be digging up a lot of the garden. All will be changed and I’ll be starting over again. Stuff is all over the back yard, the yard you and Mimi and I roamed this past spring. But I know I can’t make you stay by walking outside and looking at the back yard where you used to be and never will be again. Something had to encourage me to start letting go. It’s not quite a month, it feels a little abrupt, but I’m sure you don’t want me pining after you as I have been. I realize I can’t step out onto the deck each morning and look at the places where you are not.

black cat on chair in garden
Another quiet conversation.

JULY 9: One month anniversary, and what I find I am grateful for

The first farmer’s market of the season. As vendor season approached I had been so worried about being able to get you comfortable before I left in the morning so that you would have a restful and painless day that wouldn’t stress your recovery.

I also remember another day I left in the morning for a long day, morning-afternoon and another event at night, and you were feeling great, better than you had been in a long time, your purrsonality all there. I went to the first event feeling bouyant, and when I came back you greeted me sitting right inside the bathroom door and I carried you down the stairs but you walked all around and even got up on the cabinet. I showed you the exciting things Dr. Elgersma had just given me for you. Later, I stopped to get some FreshPet on the way home from the second event and you feasted along with all the others in a way you hadn’t eaten in probably two months.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the next day and what happened, and also what happened in March when I saw the neurological symptoms and thought the gabapentin might be making you a little loopy. But finding that March 16 was the last time you rolled on the concrete even though you’d felt better confirmed that whatever happened in March was part of the whole process, whether it was separate from the later lymphoma or the first signs of it.

I thought about you all day at the farmer’s market, holding the sign I painted that you modeled and trying not to cry. Thank goodness for a friend like Mary who listened to me pour out what I was thinking and feeling, understanding from her own losses of her beloved kitties, knowing that if she wasn’t there I would be so deep into my grief I’d never turn around and look at people who came into my tent. But in time I was able to greet people and smile and laugh and tell the stories of the inspirations that go with what I make.

We packed up in record time—50 minutes—and I was home at 4:00. I would have been so grateful for that if you had been waiting for me. No stab of pain when I walked in the door, remembering what was happening at that time only a month ago, about the time I realized you were not going to recover in any way and I moved you to my desk to wait for…whatever. Grateful that it hadn’t happened while I was away all day, because on June 11 you were still okay at the time I left the house this past Sunday morning, the change came about a half hour later, and I would have come home to you in that condition, possibly even in worse condition because I wouldn’t have been there to give you any medications, never knowing if something critical had happened while I was gone. Grateful that I could spend all those last hours with you, focused, support from my veterinarian, all the materials I needed to keep you comfortable.

 

* “Changes” by Phil Ochs

One of my favorite singer-songwriters from the 60s-70s, “Changes” has always been one of my favorite songs for the message it gives about change, including loss: we can’t avoid it, change is part of the cycle of day, of month, year, sun, moon, life, self, of energy. More than once I’d planned to use it as a base for a post on pet loss, one of them inspired by autumn leaves in the rain from 2020 and thinking of Mimi, but never quite got around to it. This was the song that came up as I typed out this week’s “journal,” as it often does when I think of loss. Please have a listen and you can follow along with the lyrics, or just read them, on this page.

~~~

Thank you for reading this far. A month into a loss still brings little anniversaries, expected and unexpected, and a good bit of pain can still fill my heart. Tears for me are always at the ready and well up at the slightest opportunity. But you need to experience the pain as part of remembering and letting go, bit by bit, and you need to cry. As always, I hope that my experiences help support you in your grief and help you in your time to make decisions.

Mr. Sunshine is feeling better as I monitor his temperature fluctuations. Jelly Bean still needs supportive care like subcutaneous fluids and Cerenia. I can continue treating and observing and continue reporting to their veterinary team. I am happy for the good days, but uncertain they’ll continue. Giuseppe is fine, as is Mimi, and all others.

~~~

With the exception of the October 2020 photo, all the photos in this post are from one session on the morning of May 15, 2023, one of the mornings when Mimi and Mewsette started out grazing together in a field of buttercups, then they parted ways and Mewsette walked all around and meandered out to the green wicker loveseat, did a little rubbing and purrformance, then settled in for a nap. then later in the day we went outside again and Mewsette went to visit her chair. I’ll be sharing some other photos from this day for my “Mimi and Mewsette Monday” post.


Mewsette’s Journey

This is a link to the category for all the articles I wrote about Mewsette’s medical care since August 2022 and a few photos. I always include valuable information about diagnosis and treatment, including alternative treatments. I also have the link in my sidebar.


I hate to keep asking, but if you’d like to help us with the costs…

As always, if you would like to help me with veterinary costs, Jelly Bean had his exam and has hyperthyroid disease, but his veterinarian also mentioned some possible GI issues, which is the same thing she mentioned with Mewsette two months ago. Giuseppe needs a full workup with our veterinarian along with his heart function. Mimi is due for her annual visit. Morty still needs prescription foods until I can get him back to the veterinarian for some blood tests so we can find out more about his particular condition, and all of them need to eat. I want to keep them all comfortable in whatever way is best for each cat.

  • Consider a Custom Pet Memorial Votive for yourself or a family member or friend. Remember that they don’t actually have to be memorials—a votive with someone’s pet on it while they are very much alive is also a nice custom gift!
  • Visit www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net. I just uploaded all my new keepsake boxes and votive lamps. I will give you a coupon to shop with when you donate.
  • I am building a “One of a Kind Shop” on my website so that it’s easier to see exactly what handmade goods are available, like those keepsake boxes up at the top and all new votive lamps. I had hoped to have it set up by now, but things are taking a little longer than expected.
  • And consider even a small portrait of one or more of your fine felines.

If you have any questions, please let me know! And thanks for any help.


Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals

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I’d been thinking of signs, and begun to visualize a few of them on the wood I’d gathered. Then Mewsette did this on the steps to the deck. Read more or purchase.



Copyright

All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

4 thoughts on “Changes Make Me Feel Like I’m Leaving You Behind

  • 15andmeowing

    That song is most appropriate. I find comfort in Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds.

    Reply
  • da tabbies o trout towne

    the wi fi cut off before I could get back to it…..hope you and the crew are well 🙂 ♥♥

    Reply
  • da tabbies o trout towne

    you haven’t left mewsette behind, she’s never left your side. just because you can’t physically “see her” doesn’t mean she isn’t here

    Reply
    • Thank you. I know that but each new change brings another pang. I acknowledge it.because that’s an important part of healing. In fact, I consider it important to acknowledge and admit all the feels, even aside from grief. Recognize it, resolve it, grow and go on. If we don’t honor our own feelings, neither will anyone else.

      Reply

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