Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Loss, We Meet Again

I've been thinking for about 35 hours how I want to talk about what this post is about.  Let me start off by saying a recent experience I had caught me completely off guard.  I bought a cat last Friday.  A cute little, big eyed baby kitten.  I named him Ellipses, which is plural for ellipsis, which is what is used in grammar to signify that you are not using a full quote, and it also suggests that you are withholding information, it is also used when a sentence dies off without finishing and while alluding a sense of hesitancy... it is signified as three dots (...) and I use it a lot in my writing.  So, yeah, that's what you get when you are the cat of an English major.  His name was either going to be Ellipses or Comma; either way he wasn't going to escape the English nerdom that is my life.

This little kitten... I love him.  The shelter I adopted him from thought he was about 13 weeks old, but it turns out he was between 6-8 weeks old and tiny as can be.  I had him for 53 hours before he died from feline distemper.  I don't know if you all know what that is.  Basically it is related to the parvovirus found in dogs.  It's a virus that attacks the white blood cells in the cat so it is unable to fight it off and it eventually overcomes the neurological system and is 99% of the time fatal.  It can be contracted en-utero or through other cats that have been subjected to it.  With how quickly it overcame this sweet baby kitten, the vet believes it had already been in his system for at least a week before I adopted him.

In the time that I had Ellipses, he was... well, the vet thought his occasional vommitting was related to transitional difficulties.  Cats can be extremely finicky when it comes to transitions and this little baby was too tiny to have been taken from his momma and then to go to a shelter and then to be adopted... he had been through a lot of transition and that alone can cause vommitting in a kitten.  He and I spent a lot of time cuddling and when we weren't cuddling, he was vommitting and the pressure with which he would dry-heave was so body shaking that it would throw him back a little each time and so I spent my time holding him securely in one spot so he could get it out, while rubbing his back to soothe him.  The day he died he was vommitting about every hour from 3:30-4:00 in the morning on.  I started to get concerned when he became lethargic and stopped drinking water.  He stopped walking around too.  By the time I got him to the vet, he had lost motor function in his legs and couldn't even stand but would roll over on to his back involuntarily.  

I held him as he was fading.  I held him on his back over the warm blanket (his temperature was dropping and he was slowly becoming hypothermic) and I rubbed underneath his chin as he tried to keep his eyes on me... but he was losing his ability to focus... if he could even see at all at that point.  He wanted so desperately to be able to stand and walk around that he started to panic and I said my goodbyes and I handed him over to the vet to put him... down... or out of his misery, however you want to define it.  

Obviously I didn't expect him to die when I adopted him.  Moreso, I didn't expect to bond with him as quickly as I did.  But I did.  He was so vulnerable and tiny and unsure about the world that he relied on me.  And... that brought back a lot of memories from my time in the hospital with Baby Boy.  I fell in love with this little kitten.  And saying goodbye to him... I wasn't expecting all the raw emotion that saying goodbye to Ellipses would bring up from the day I left Baby Boy in the arms of a social worker.  

This weekend... needless to say was the second worst and most rewarding weekend of my life; the first being the weekend I delivered Baby Boy and then placed him for adoption.  I had a panic attack at the vet's office, in the bathroom while they put him down.  To go into complete details and maybe I shouldn't- but what the heck- I wasn't allowed to go back with him because it would have been too traumatic.  You see, he was so tiny that they couldn't inject the euthanasia into his veins, so they had to inject it straight into his heart.  They made him comfortable at first so he wouldn't feel anything, but doing it that way is so sudden that it can be traumatic for an owner to witness so they don't allow them back to witness it.  

Obviously, there aren't a lot of connections to be made between Baby Boy and Ellipses.  Baby Boy is thriving... and Ellipses is no more.  Baby Boy is human and... no matter how much of a cat lady I'm turning in to... Ellipses was not a human even though to me, he was baby-like.  But the striking similarities in all of this is that I was only in both of their lives for a short time and they both taught me more about love than I've learned on my own in my nearly 28 years of existence.  

Thought shift: sometimes I question God.  Don't get me wrong, I know emphatically that there is a God because I've experienced blessings that are too sacred to ever question and so I don't question the existence of God... rather, I question the whole process that is religion and Deity and trial and tribulation and... all of that... a lot.  I know that I have a sort of say in the direction my life takes and that life, in general, is not pre-determined and that none of us are pre-destined for any grand scheme; we all have a say in our actions and our decisions.  But, I don't want to know Loss anymore and that's where I get hung up on whatever God's divine plan for me may be.  This weekend was too close for comfort to the sacred memory that is Baby Boy and it struck me that... anything... anything can resurface those memories and it will always be that way... and that's kind of exhausting to think about.  And... I mean, that's just it, there's nothing more that can said about that, I guess.

Do I regret Baby Boy for the loss I endured?  I don't regret anything about him.  I would go as far as to say that I don't even regret his dad (though I still dislike Baby Daddy strongly) because without him, Baby Boy wouldn't be here and without Baby Boy being here I would never have known his light and his parents would never have been blessed with his addition to their family.  Do I wish that I had waited and created Baby Boy with another person?  Yes, deeply.  The man I love and who loves Baby Boy... he is a great father to his children and so I don't doubt for one second that he would have been a brilliant father to Baby Boy because I know he would have.  I took a risk with Baby Daddy and it didn't work, but I was blessed to have known an angel in Baby Boy and to have been a part of his life for a short time and I don't regret that for one second.  He taught me about love... the real kind.  The selfless kind that changes your world if you are lucky enough to have ever known it.  I may not be an active part of his world, but for the time that I got to spend with him... it was worth it.

Now the other question.  Do I regret Ellipses?  Nope.  When I placed Baby Boy for adoption, there was this part of me... it was the survival part of me that closed off the maternal part of me in order to survive the decision I made.  There's really no other way to say it; I couldn't have made that decision and decided to stay in that active maternal place at the same time.  So, I shut it off.  And while I'd like to think that I've still been a kind woman towards others since I shut that part of me off, there was this other part of me that was scared to really open that closed off part... to ever fully open that part of me again.  I didn't realize how scared I was to love someone so completely again and so... I've convinced myself for a long time that I've completely opened my heart up again to the world and the opportunities that may await me.  But, the thing about convincing is that when you're doing it, the thing you are convincing yourself of doesn't exist.  So... as much as I wanted to open my heart up and trust again and love again and laugh freely again and be easy in my skin again... it was a show for the most part.  There were some very genuine moments but they were fleeting.  

And then I adopted this baby kitty and he needed me and I needed him and it was easy to open up to him because he was so unassuming.  And... that was curious to me and that's when I realized how closed off I've been.  And so in a long about way of saying it, I don't regret Ellipses.  And that plan of God's... I don't understand it, but I'm trusting it more.  If my only purpose in this kitten's life was to give him a lot of love and a couple days of comfort outside of a dirty animal shelter and to cry over his loss, because regardless of how tiny he was, he was important; if that was the whole point of me finding him and loving him, then I can live with that. Just like Baby Boy, if I wasn't supposed to be his active mommy and I was only supposed to know his spirit and his life through carrying him to term and loving him and his companionship for nine months, just to hand him over to people who love him just as much as I do; if my only purpose was to learn of that kind of love, then it was worth it and I can live with that.

I don't know how else to look at any of this.  As much as I don't want to know Loss anymore, I'm understanding that it is essential to our human growth.  If we allow it to, Loss can teach us more about love than it ever could about hate and that's the balance of loss.  Yes it can kill our souls and breed hate within us, but only if we allow it to.  But also, if we allow it to, it can grow our souls to where we long to be and where we will experience the most powerful of love.  That may sound hokey and a bit hippy-like, but I believe it.  Loss, if you allow it to, can teach you more about love than anything this world has to offer; especially reality t.v.  It's true.

As it stands, I'm going to get another kitten.  I'm looking into one right now that is being fostered and he's so precious and I can't wait to meet him.  I'm not going to let my heart close off again, that's for sure.  It's open now and I like it.


  1. I'm so sorry about Ellipses, Kathryn. He looks precious and adorable in the pictures. So glad you got time with him, though! I blessing to you both, I'm sure. Best of luck with a new kitten. Can't wait to meet him/her. Love you! : )

  2. I love you too Anika :) Thank you for your kind words and support.

  3. I got a lot out of reading this post, your thoughts on loss, regret, and resilience.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Ellipses.

    This post is featured in July's VIP adoption posts.


  4. Lavender, I am honored. Thank you so much.

  5. this is really moving, the connections you articulate between the loss of your baby boy and this little kitten. lovely post.

    for what it's worth, it's nice to know you gave that sweet kitty so much love before he left.

  6. Thank you so much. That means a lot to me. I'm glad I was able to have him, even if it was for but a small moment. I've got his name tag on my key chain to always remember him and the joy he brought to my life.