One Year

Exactly one year ago, I lost my best friend and the light of my life.

It seems impossible that it’s been a whole year, because not a day goes by where I don’t think of him and miss him and feel the ache from the hole in my heart that was left after he was gone. For sixteen years, my cat Boo taught me unconditional love and comfort, and brought peace to my soul even when it was the most troubled. And although I will never be able to resign myself to the fact that I had to lose him, I am amazed at how he continues to teach me how to grow as a human being even after he is gone.

I’ve spoken before about how after his death my life took a very dark turn and I struggled enormously with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. It’s not an experience that I would want anyone to have to go through, but as times of trial often will do, it helped me mature and gave me strength and wisdom that I might never have had otherwise. Some of the most important lessons I have ever learned came from my love of one chubby gray cat and I will never stop missing him. But I’ve learned that’s the comfort in loss– just because he is gone doesn’t mean I have to stop loving him. I truly believe that love really is greater than death, because what effect does death have on our love for others? The loss of Boo has not dimmed my love for him even the tiniest bit. It remains as strong and steady as ever. And I truly do find comfort in that; even though he is gone, no one can make me stop loving him.  

These realizations have been especially relevant to me lately. On Tuesday, my uncle VW passed away at the age of 73. It wasn’t a complete shock, but can we really ever fully prepare ourselves for death? The utter finality of it is unequaled to any other experience on earth, and I don’t know if that’s something we can ever truly be ready for. But lately I’ve begun to wonder if grief is something that you have to practice. Of course, that is not to say that you can get used to grief because every loss is different. But with every loss of a loved one, I have learned new lessons. And these lessons have helped me go through the process of grief with at least a little more understanding than the last time. 

I was terrified when we lost my uncle that I would be plunged right back into the same morass that overtook my life the last time something like that happened. And though I am utterly devastated by his loss, because he was a wonderful uncle and one of the kindest, most amazing people I have ever met, I can take the very, very hard-earned wisdom I’ve gained in the last year and comfort myself that, even though the pain is enormous, it was still worth it to have him as my uncle. And the comfort is that I never have to stop loving him.

But having experienced grief before can only do so much, and it in no way lessens my desire to have my uncle or my cat back. Sometimes at night, the spot against the back of my leg where Boo always used to sleep will feel so cold it’s like there is a block of ice pressed against me, burning my skin–and I recognize it’s the physical manifestation of how much I miss him. And, of course, there have been times when the pain of losing him was so great that I could almost wish that I’d never known him– but then I imagine my life without that cat and I know it was all worth it to have the privilege of loving him for sixteen years.

One of my favorites quotes of all time comes from one of my favorite books of all time–The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I read that book over and over after losing Boo, and a few months later after we so suddenly lost Cash. I have said before that I think it’s an amazing book to help deal with grief, and it has helped me come to terms with losing my baby boy.

In the story, a fox explains what will happen if the little prince tames him. He tells the little prince that, as he is now, he doesn’t know one human from the next, and they all look and sound the same to him– they mean nothing to him. But if the prince tames him, then he will be special to the fox, and when he looks on the wheat fields he will be reminded of the little prince’s bright golden hair. This quote follows:
“So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near– “Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”
“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“Then it has done you no good at all!”
“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”

I am crying as I write this, and I have cried more tears in the past year than I can ever remember crying before in my life. I’m probably going to be crying about losing my baby until the day I die. But when the pain seems too big for my heart to handle, I will think of sixteen perfect years of love and know it has done me immeasurable good. 

I planned to write a long post about this, but I honestly don’t know what else there is to say. A year’s distance from losing him has rather reduced things down to the simple truths of grief– the facts are that I will love him forever, I will never stop missing him, and the pain is not going to go away. There’s the old cliche that time heals all wounds, but really I think time just allows you to come to terms with things. The pain never actually leaves, but you learn to live with it. I told a friend that today is very bittersweet, but the strongest emotion that comes through is, and I think always will be, how much love he brought into my life. And I also comfort myself with the fact that no one could have loved that cat more and I believe he was well aware of it. Just as he gave me sixteen years of utter happiness, I like to think that we did the same for him. 

So to finish this post, I think I’ll leave you with another quote from The Little Prince that also helped me to deal with my grief. It’s beautiful and poignant, and worthy of a post about the love of my life, and in memory of the very best uncle anyone could ask for.

“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night… You–only you–will have stars that can laugh!”

And he laughed again.

“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky!”

 

I miss you so much already, Uncle V.

uncle v

And I’ll love you forever and for always, my precious Boo baby.

boooodie

 

The Metamorphosis

Hi friends.
Isn’t it crazy how different your life can be from one point to another? I look back on my life at this point last year, and I hurt for what that girl was about to go through.

Life already wasn’t perfect for me at that point; I had graduated college for one thing. And that’s a wonderful, amazing thing to accomplish, obviously, but it just left me… floundering a little bit. I’ve talked before about how school really provided a lot of the framework for my life and time, and when I graduated I was suddenly faced with a world of utter uncertainty. On the other hand, I was happy because I re-fell in love with my novel and started working on it constantly. Then, shortly after graduating, I began getting sick every time I ate. This time last year, I literally could not eat without feeling like I had to vomit shortly later. I lost a great deal of weight in a period of two or three months and essentially lost my appetite, and it took a very long time to finally figure out the problem and treat it properly.

In September, my best friend died. My cat Boo was my most faithful, loving companion for 16 years and losing him simply devastated me. I couldn’t sleep at night; instead, I would lay on my couch and just cry, always trying to muffle my sobbing so I wouldn’t wake anyone up. The littlest things would set me off and at times it felt like I truthfully was never going to be able to function normally.
Finn became so affectionate and sweet after we lost Boo, like he knew how much I needed him– but he just wasn’t Boo. Getting Gus in November both helped and hurt, as well. He is a hilarious, energetic, mischievous cat that keeps us on our toes, so it was a good distraction. But on the other hand, it felt so painfully wrong. Boo had only been gone two months; how could we get a new cat? Gus got worms only a few days after we got him and I had to take him to the vet. They put me in the same room where they’d told me Boo had a tumor– I cried in the room until the vet got there, and then cried the entire way home.

I wanted to take Gus right back to the Humane Society. I suddenly felt the most overwhelming panic– what was I thinking getting a new cat, one that was only going to get sick and die and shatter my heart, just like Boo had? I already was feeling this agonized resentment mingled with love towards Finn, and then I just added one more cat to feel that about.

None of this was their fault, of course, and they’re both wonderful, amazing cats that I love deeply (Finn is laying on my arm and half on my laptop as I type this, purring happily and blocking half my view of my keyboard). But I was going through some serious grief and trying to cope with it. I was finally beginning to make some sort of sense out of life again at the end of November; holidays always help cheer me up and I love Thanksgiving.

Then, two days after, my youngest dog Cash died in my lap. I know I talked about it before, but the memory is just so strong in me of how it felt as I kept bending over and clutching my stomach and saying over and over, “I can’t stand this, I just can’t stand it.” There was literally so much pain and hurt and devastation inside me that it just didn’t seem humanly possible that my body could contain it all. How could this happen?  An already uneven world suddenly tipped completely upside down, jumbling and jarring and setting into chaos everything within it.

By this point, I’d already been applying for jobs and getting rejected–repeatedly. Over the next few months, my nana had a stroke, we found out my uncle had cancer and his Hepatitis C (got in the 80s from a blood transfusion, before they screened for that) worsened considerably, and I hurt my quad muscles and ended up not able to play soccer for almost four months.

After Boo had died, I suspected I was depressed. When Cash followed him so soon after, I was pretty sure of it. But I thought it was something that would just get better.

It didn’t.

Every night seemed endless for me, because I couldn’t stop reliving all these bad things that had happened and crying about them. I slept poorly and never felt rested, so I was tired all the time. I lost my appetite again, and I just felt upset a lot. I have ALWAYS been a cheerful, happy person. I am passionate and enthusiastic about life, and there are so many things I tend to get excited about. But my novel that I’d been so feverishly working on seemed stupid and awful, and I abandoned it. I just started watching movies on my laptop at night, just to try and distract myself from the bad memories. I started re-reading all my favorite old books to give myself something to do when I couldn’t sleep.

Another thing I started to notice was how anxious I felt all the time. As morbid as it sounds, I started just being swamped by this overwhelming worry that my loved ones were going to die unexpectedly. I thought about it almost constantly, and I couldn’t make myself stop, no matter how hard I tried. I’m not the type of person who can hold a grudge or stay truly mad at someone for a long time; I just don’t have the personality to sustain it. I’m a happy person.

But that was no longer true. I wasn’t happy; in fact, I just felt terrified and upset and off-balance all the time. I also started getting sick chronically again. The day I left the vet after hearing Boo had a tumor, I bawled the entire way home. I was by myself and when I got back I got horribly sick and eventually passed out for a minute. The night before Boo died, I threw a screaming hysterical fit for hours and made myself sick again. After Cash died, I was so angry, and I just wanted to lash out at everyone and everything. I was aware of this, even as I couldn’t stop myself from feeling like it. I would feel so furious, and then suddenly I’d be in the shower and I’d just start crying.

One night I came home from soccer (before I got hurt), and my mom was afraid that Gus had eaten something poisonous. I started feeling sick and so I got in the shower, because that used to help when I was having all my stomach issues. I ended up getting dizzy and sick and my mom and sister had to help me out of the shower. I started bawling, and I kept asking what was wrong with me. I laid on the couch in my towel and cried and cried; I just couldn’t seem to stop. At some point we read in the paper that someone had seen a mountain lion only a few miles from my house. For a whole month, every time I heard my dogs bark outside at night I eventually went out there with an air rifle and a flashlight, convinced they’d been mauled to death. When my nana had her stroke, I got horribly sick again, even though she ended up being fine. My cat Finn also developed a horrible cough, where he would sound like he was choking and hacking but never cough anything up. He gulped and swallowed constantly, and at night he would often wake me up with a coughing fit and send me into a panic attack. I took him to the vet and they guessed it was bronchitis, so they gave him an antibiotic to take. It seemed to help only moderately, and then he went back to doing it and I kept panicking.

One day, I went outside and found a huge lump on my dog Riley’s hip. Quite simply, I melted down. I was home alone again, and I got sick and started crying and became convinced it was cancer and he was going to die just like Cash and Boo. By the time my sister got home, I was desperate and felt out of control. We called and scheduled an appointment for the next day at the vet.

When we got there, it didn’t take long for the vet to tell us he didn’t think it was cancer. Apparently it’s very common in older dogs to have lumps, and as this one was right over his hip the vet figured that he’d simply lost a lot of the muscle on his hip joint and scar tissue had built up to protect it.

Riley was okay, but I wasn’t. Increasingly I felt this almost constant sense of overwhelming doom, like at any moment something horrible was going to happen. I was sick and anxious and upset almost all the time, and was home constantly by myself. I kept getting rejected by jobs and my family was all at work, so it felt like all I did was sit around and think about awful, horrible things.

I kept making excuses for why I couldn’t see my friends or go anywhere, because I was afraid something might set me off and I’d have a panic attack. I never wanted to leave the house; I just wanted to lay in bed. I was essentially just a shambles.

The next time some little, silly thing set me off, and I found myself crying and upset, I talked to my sister. As you’ll know if you read my blog, my sister is my best friend and there is nobody more important to me in the world. I share everything with her. And though I’d talked some about what I was feeling–it was impossible to miss– I’d never really come right out and said that there was something wrong, because she was having stress of her own as she’d taken a long-term sub. She was busy and tired most of the time, and I just didn’t want to bother her–I also didn’t want to admit something was wrong with me.

When I finally spoke up, my sister– who has a degree in Psychology– told me she had suspected I was depressed for a long time. We both agreed that something needed to be done; it was starting to affect my daily life and I was getting to a point where I felt like I couldn’t even function right anymore. I was having panic attacks weekly, sometimes two or three or four or even five times a week.

One night I sat down and just opened up to my parents. I told them how I felt scared and anxious all the time, and how I thought something was wrong and I needed to get some help. They were wonderful, just like my sister–loving and supporting. I had a doctor’s appointment only a couple of days later. My doctor told me it sounded like there was absolutely something wrong, and she recommended me to a counselor so she could diagnose me and then my doctor would be able to treat me appropriately.

I felt very apprehensive about going to a counselor. There truly is an enormous stigma around mental health issues in our society; even though if someone told me they were going to counseling for depression or something like that, I would NEVER think ill of them, somehow it seemed like people would think I was lying or over-exaggerating or just crazy.

My counselor was incredibly nice. I saw her three times, and over that course she gave me tests to take so she could diagnose my problem. Turns out I had GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and it had gotten so bad that it was causing me to have Panic Disorder as well. I also was suffering from a moderate to severe case of depression.

It was so terrifying to hear this put into words. It felt like I was doing something wrong, or I was being a baby, or just overreacting to everything. On one hand, I didn’t want to hear it and I didn’t want to talk to a counselor or a doctor.

On the other hand, this was a nearly unfathomable relief. To actually hear a qualified professional tell me that, yes, there is something going on here and you aren’t just making it up was liberating. She explained to me that essentially what had happened is my brain’s coping mechanism had just gotten overwhelmed and basically shorted out. I could no longer react and cope with things appropriately, so the littlest things were setting me off and I was overreacting enormously and having panic attacks. She referred me back to my doctor with this diagnosis.

My doctor explained things to me. Depression, and the other things I was feeling, were being caused by a lack of serotonin in my brain. It’s the chemical your brain creates that makes you feel happy essentially. What was happening is that my brain was creating the normal amount of serotonin, but then reabsorbing it way too fast so it wasn’t staying in my brain. She discussed with me how medication could help get me back to normal.

I didn’t like it. I resented the need for medicine. But she explained to me how it was the same thing as taking an antibiotic for an infection. I think that’s what is so hard for us to realize; that taking care of your brain is just as important as taking care of your body, and both can get sick and need to be treated. I still didn’t like it, but I knew I needed to do something.

My doctor gave me something called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor–or an SSRI. More specifically, she gave me Zoloft, which I take daily. This would stop my brain from eating up the serotonin too fast. She also gave me something called “Boost Bars,” which were little pills to take in case of a panic attack that would work almost immediately.

In the beginning, I had to take them fairly often. We thought a tornado might be heading for Mustang, and so I took a couple. Quite a few times Finn woke me up from a sound sleep coughing horribly, and I had to take them. Various other things would start to set me off, and I had to take them.

But since I first went to the doctor a few months ago, I have only had a panic attack two or three times. I feel unspeakably better–I’ve felt like myself again.

My life, which for so long seemed to be on a downward spiral, slowly began improving. Little things started happening.

I began bringing Finn in the bathroom with me while I showered, because I read somewhere that the steam could help with something called kennel cough, which we think is the most likely culprit. It’s incredibly common in animals that come from a shelter or a rescue, which is where we got Finn, and there’s just not really a cure. It periodically acts up. But since I’ve been having Finn in the bathroom with me, his cough has gotten a hundred times better.

My nana has been doing very well, and after the last stroke they finally prescribed her some regular medicine to take that will help her from getting another.

I met my idol (and future husband) Steven Adams randomly at the mall, and he really was incredibly nice and took a picture with me:

Don't mind the height difference

Don’t mind the height difference

Incredibly, I finished, edited, and self-published my book, and the support and encouragement I have received has been overwhelming (that’s my next post). I published it exactly one month before my 23rd birthday and fulfilled one of my deepest dreams.

And then, like a miracle, not ten minutes after I met Steven Adams, I got an email asking me to come in for an interview to the bridal shop I had applied to on a whim and without hope for getting it.

The interview went really well, and they seemed incredibly nice. A week later I had a second interview. Then I took a wonderful, amazing vacation with my family to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon(!!!). A few days after I got back, I got an email inviting me to become an employee of Meg Guess Couture Bridal.

Today marked one week since I started at the shop, and it’s already been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. One of my biggest fears was that the people who work at a bridal shop would be snooty or hateful, but they are exactly the opposite. Meg is one of the nicest, most encouraging people I’ve ever met and I love all of my coworkers already. Every day has been different, and an adventure, and I love it. I’m excited to get up and go to work in the mornings.

Even more amazing, the evening after my very first day, my very first best friend Brenna got engaged, and a couple days later asked me to be her maid of honor.

It’s like after months of seeming famine, suddenly there is feast. Life is bright and exciting and filled with possibilities again. I feel happy and passionate and enthusiastic about the things I am doing, and surrounded by my wonderful loved ones. I laugh and smile and enjoy life again.

I guess the reason I waited so long to talk about my anxiety was because I didn’t know how to talk about it. I felt embarrassed and confused and overwhelmed by it. But after steady medication and a couple months of life being good instead of bad, I finally feel like my old self, and it’s so important to me that I share my experience. I want to make sure anyone who has gone through the same things doesn’t feel stupid, or crazy, or melodramatic like I did, and I want them to know that it IS possible to get better, no matter how bleak or hopeless life seems. I was never suicidal, but I have an all new understanding for people who feel that way. Some days it just seemed like I didn’t want to be here. To people who feel like that, and that the only answer is to end things, I beg you– try counseling. Try medication. Try just talking to your friends or your family or even a random stranger. That’s the hardest part to overcome, I think, the trying. Because after awhile it seems like what’s the point?

But there IS light at the end of the tunnel. Looking back on where I was this time last year, I still hurt, so painfully, for what that girl would have to go through. But the only constant characteristic of life is that it changes. I have grown into a whole new person. I named this post The Metamorphosis because of one of my favorite short stories of the same name by Franz Kafka.

The basic plot is that a man suddenly wakes up one morning and realizes he has been turned into a bug. There is no explanation for this change, and he slowly loses his humanity as he struggles to continue living life exactly as it was before the change. Eventually he becomes so lost to humanity that his family becomes terrified of him, and ultimately causes his death, which he accepts willingly.

The sudden dark turn that my life took was as bewildering to me as if I had suddenly woken up and turned into a bug. I felt the same sense of unfamiliarity with my own self, as if without my permission it had changed into something I did not recognize or understand and had no control over. Life felt absurd and pointless, and it seemed as if I was trapped in a dark room alone simply waiting for what life might throw at me, much like the main character in Kafka’s story was. I struggled miserably and in vain for months to try and regain the patterns of my old life, to keep going on as I had been.

But that was the thing– I was not as I had been. I had been irrevocably changed, without warning or permission, and the person I was had essentially died. I had to accept that I was not the same person.

I don’t know what lies ahead for me. Maybe at this point next year I’ll look back on myself at this point and feel the same agony for what I will face. Or maybe I’ll look back at this point and think what an amazing, wonderful adventure I have to look forward to. I have no idea, of course, but I do know that life is series of peaks and valleys. I could be facing the Mariana Trench, or I could be about to climb Mount Everest. I’m sure you’ll hear about my view when I know.

Either way, I’m looking forward to my next metamorphosis.

My Year in Facebook Statuses

2013

JANUARY

4thFirst day of spring semester, booo- Oh, wait. That’s right. I DON’T HAVE CLASS ON FRIDAYS, YEEEEEEEEAH SENIOR YEAR. On the other hand, this is my last semester of college, omg.

7th– I’ve coined the perfect name for people who hate naps: haterZzzzz.

8th– Overheard at work today from a five year old: “I love her and she’s going to be my only girlfriend forever. We’re going to buy a house, it needs to have at least four bedrooms. It’s gonna be really nice.” Glad to see an upstanding youth getting his life sorted early.

10th–  I realized a sad truth today- sweater tights were not made for thunder thighs.

18th– I’ve ventured into the strange and terrifying world of simply blogging, without the bargainy outfity thingy. Two posts await your perusal, if you are so inclined.

21st– I love mornings with my kitties. Cuddled with my Boo baby and then shared a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats with Finn because he’s a freak. Just makes the rest of my day brighter when it starts with my boys. #CrazyCatLadyPerks

29th– “The logic of the rebel is to want to serve justice so as not to add to the injustice of the human condition, to insist on plain language so as not to increase the universal falsehood, and to wager, in spite of human misery, for happiness.”- Albert Camus, The Rebel. Ohhh, Camus, you so often make my brain melt but every once and awhile you throw out something I can really get behind.

31st– Got dressed this morning at 8:30. Just now realized that my belt wasn’t even in a couple of the loops on my pants. Why am I writing a fashion blog again?

FEBRUARY

6th– Just drove past a scruffy old guy wearing a Statue of Liberty outfit with a flag stuck in the crown and playing some kind of guitar/ukelele, standing on the side of the road, who proceeded to point at me as if to say, “What up, bro!” In four years, this is officially one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in Chickasha.

10th– As befits a consummate Facebook creeper such as myself, I have just spent thirty minutes creeping my own Facebook. I have come to the conclusion that, 1. I was not a worthwhile human being until at least senior year of high school, 2. I had a bewildering amount of angst between 2006-2008, and 3. I should be much more forgiving of young girls who post things they shouldn’t on Facebook because, good lord, Young Me, learn to hush.

24th– Got toothpaste in my eye this morning. Toothpaste. In my eye. What am I doing wrong, world?

27th– From the mouth of a five year old: “I’m drinking dungeon juice! It tastes like metal…. and prisoners. It’s delicious!” Wha….????

MARCH

11th– Reasons I Love My School No. 28: There are people fencing on the Oval. — at University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

13th– Maybe it’s bragging to post it on Facebook, but I found out today that I’m receiving the Distinguished Graduate Award for the Division of Arts and Humanities (ooh, fancy!) and I’m just so honored. Or, less formally, I’M SO EXCITED AND I JUST CAN’T HIDE IT!!!!

28th– If you’ve ever happened to wonder what I do in my free time, let me give you an idea. Today I watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on my phone while hot gluing a headband with a bow on it. Being perpetually single is a committed effort, guys.

APRIL

2nd– To sleep or not to sleep–that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous schoolwork, or to take arms against a sea of classes and by ignoring end them. To nap, to sleep–No morning class–and by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to early in the morning. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

3rd– Tiffany Cordova: “Butter knives are a gateway knife.”

9th– So I was honored today with three different awards (Distinguished Graduate in Arts and Humanities, Stuart Meltzer English Scholarship, and Graduate with Honors), and I felt pretty proud of my life. I then proceeded to nearly break my toe by walking into a cart at Atwood’s. Fame totally hasn’t changed me, guys, don’t worry.

12th– Crazy Cat Lady Tip No. 27: Get cats that are fat, because when you grab them and cradle them on their backs in your arms to forcibly cuddle them, their own weight makes it nearly impossible for them to get up and escape. Gravity: a helpful friend of the CCL.

14th– I got on Facebook today while taking a break from writing my approximately 25 page paper over Albert Camus and absurdist theory, and there were THREE notifications in my little side area thing of people getting engaged. I think Facebook is doing this on purpose because it’s silently judging my perpetually “Single” relationship status. FORGET YOU, FACEBOOK, MY 4.0 GPA IS MY BOYFRIEND. I’m going back to my books and my cats now.

15th– My last ever week of school has commenced.

17th– You know it’s finals week when you see more than one person taking stumbling steps through the Oval, until they finally come to a stop to stare at papers in their hands with a look of despair before trudging, defeated, towards class.

18th– Three and a half years I’ve worked at Epworth Day School, and they’ve been some of the most frustrating, enlightening, happiest, and worthwhile times of my life. I’m absolutely heartbroken to say goodbye, but I will never forget this incredibly important and rewarding chapter in my life.

19th– It’s 6:18 in the morning. I have not slept. I have 33 full pages written for my senior seminar paper over Albert Camus and his theory of absurdism. I do not know if those pages are of good quality; I do not know if my argument is sound, or even coherent. What I do know is that I have dedicated four months of my life to this, and I have nothing left to give. As of now, Camus and this paper and I are never, ever, ever, ever getting back together.

19th– I cannot say thank you enough to all the wonderful people who came to support me tonight at my graduation, I have the best family and friends in the world!!

20th– Well, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, it’s been real. I am officially graduated and moved out, so I guess it’s time to say goodbye. Thanks for everything.

27th– Me: “What kind of tea is sometimes hard to swallow?” Rachel: “Sharp cheddar!” Me: “Sharp cheddar…that’s what kind of tea is hard to swallow…” Rae: “Ohhh, I thought you said what kind of CHEESE!”

27th– BREAKING NEWS: I possibly broke my nose playing indoor. It sure looks wonky enough to be broken. Updates to follow. (Do you see what I did there? I made a pun. Breaking news…because I think I broke my nose. I’d like to see you make a pun right after your nose got potentially broken. Dedication to my English degree, right there.)

28th– NON-BREAKING NEWS: Sadly, it looks like I have the much less exciting nasal contusion as opposed to a broken nose. Can’t be 100% sure without a CT scan, but the doctor felt there was no point in doing that since they can’t really do anything for it anyway. Alas, all my English puns were for nothing.

MAY

1st– Trying to write a resume. Soul slowly dying.

4th– I almost killed Richard O’Rourke and myself tonight by driving the wrong way down a street. I figure that’s a pretty good sendoff for him before he goes back to Ireland.

21st– I love my state. Oklahoma Strong.

25th– Walked into the living room this morning and my dad was watching the video for Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack” and just singing the words “heart attack” over and over. I have the best dad ever, all other dads can go home.

29th– I can’t believe it, but it has been one year since I started my bargain fashion blog. That means it’s been one whole year of me blowing up your Facebook with my clothes and my words. And, boy, am I looking forward to another year of doing so. I’m SURE you are, too.

31st– I have honestly never been so scared in my life as I was this evening, but by a miracle all family and pets are safe and our house is fine. We have lots of downed trees and debris and we’re worried about flooding, along with the power being out in all of town. But as of right now, just feeling so incredibly grateful.

JUNE

4th– Day 4 of the past 5 without power… Getting real tired of trying to put makeup on in the dark.

5th– Attempting to curl my hair again after almost a week of no power and constant buns. It appears to have forgotten its old life where I sometimes styled it, and is now refusing to take up those shackles again. It simply won’t acknowledge that I am curling it, no matter how much hairspray I use to persuade it.

8th– Total number of views on my blog for today- 323. My dad’s suggestion: “Why don’t you send your blog into a publishing company, make some money off that thing.” Thank you so much to everyone who read and shared my blog, you guys make it worthwhile!!!

11th– I know summer has officially started when I’ve looked at my legs while wearing sunglasses and got excited because I had a tan already, but then remembered I don’t.

13th– You know it’s hot when your dad answers the phone with “Golly gee willikers, Batgirl, my goose is cooked.”

17th– Sitting at home in my sweaty workout clothes wondering why I ever was excited about doing Zumba.

25th– Nerdy thought of the day: The best thing about reading so many books that I honestly can’t remember them all anymore is that after a year or two I can unearth them, and then I get to experience the joy of reading them again like they’re new.

29th– Three indoor soccer games in three days… My body is laughing scornfully at my foolishness.

JULY

1st– I hate you, job searching. You only serve to remind me that I’m apparently qualified to do nothing but soul-crushing, menial labor.

8th– So I just found out that my four time great-grandfather was named Augustus Leonidas. My family officially wins the coolest name ever award.

11th– Rachel Rowe: “You know what you get from bad boys? Herpes.” Ah, the words of wisdom I am gifted with from my big sister at nearly three in the morning.

22nd– *Sarcastic comment about not caring about the royal baby yet obviously caring enough to mention it* = people on my social media feeds today. #icare #noshame #royallove

24th– There is a man with a tiny grill grilling in the parking lot of our hotel whilst wearing a shirt that says “hustler” on it. Oh, Galveston, I missed you.

26th– I’m pretty sure that Boston Market is a gift of ambrosia from the gods, and the fact that there are none in Oklahoma is punishment for every bad thing I’ve done in all my past lives.

29th– I had a dream that a nice, cute boy asked me out on a date in an adorable way, and when I woke up I was so excited that I had half-written a text to tell people that I got asked out on a date until I realized I was still half-asleep and my life is very, very sad.

AUGUST

7th– It’s 2:20 in the morning, and I am lounging on my couch in utter, perfect bliss because I DVRed Whose Line Is It Anyway? earlier today, and now I can fast forward through the commercials. This is what true happiness feels like, guys.

7th– That’s right, folks, it’s time again for that moment every night when Sara thinks her hair is a spider and tries to smash it.

8th– Job-hunting inevitably leads me to the same conclusion over and over again– life would be so much easier if I were a cat.

15th– I made a most bewildering discovery just now– Chick-fil-a has complimentary mouth wash in their bathroom.

17th– If you are getting married and need help planning your wedding, please take a look at my wedding board on Pinterest and consider hiring me for the job. Because–and I’m getting pretty sure of this– I think this is my calling.

22nd– It’s not even 9am on my birthday and I’ve actually been voluntarily awake for almost an hour. This is what becoming an adult is like, isn’t it.

22nd– It’s officially the best birthday ever, I got a Blake Griffin OU jersey for ten bucks, and a lady in Academy straight up just had a monkey.

22nd– I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 22!….Aaaand like Taylor Swift really needs to start singing some age appropriate songs. Like, seriously girl, get it together.

30th– Just watched Up for the first time ever… I don’t know whether my heart is broken or just so full it hurts.

31st– That awkward moment when you’re watching college football and you realize that from here on out, you’re going to be older than pretty much every player.

SEPTEMBER

1st– For the first time in 18 years, August is over and I’m not going back to school. Brb, having an existential crisis.

5th– It is physically painful for me to watch Amanda Bynes play soccer with her hair down in She’s The Man. Truthfully, it’s painful to watch most of the soccer scenes in that movie, and yet for some reason I still enjoy it.

8th– 16 years ago, we took a scared little kitten home who was only supposed to stay a week until we could find another owner. I had no idea then that the scared little kitten would become the love of my life. Today, one of the best and most beautiful parts of my soul passed away, and the depth of my grief is simply impossible to put in words. So all I can say is that I will love you forever my precious Boo baby, and there will never be another cat as perfect as you.

12th– Had a blast at my first practice as assistant coach to Brenna Skillern and our girls’ soccer team, can’t wait for our first game Saturday! Let’s go, Chargers!

20th– That awkward moment when you’ve been waking up all night because you can’t stop coughing or sneezing and you finally manage to get comfortable and are almost asleep when suddenly the box of Kleenex on the bedside table flares up in the breeze from the fan and you’re convinced for a couple of soul-chilling seconds that a small, white ghost is flying towards your face in the dark…

20th– Today is the happiest I’ve been in a long time, because today is THE day… the day I get to wear leggings again. Hello again, hello my friends, helloooo.

23rd– Help, I can’t stop eating croissants. Like, I seriously just ate all the croissants in my house. If I were a dinosaur, I’d be a croissantasaurus.

27th– I did it, guys… I applied for a big kid job. Weird.

OCTOBER

2nd– I just got a suggestion from my LivingSocial deals to get a Pumpkin Cheesecake Enzyme Facial. Don’t enzymes break things down though?? I feel like that sounds like the pumpkin cheesecake is going to eat my face, has the inevitable finally happened and the predator has become the prey? Is our food finally going to start eating us???

3rd– I had a dream last night that I was jumping on a bouncy castle with Amy Poehler, and I really did not want to wake up :(

6th– Did you know that if you really love cats then it is a huge mistake to search “cat clothing” on Etsy?

7th– If the songs of Lifehouse were embodied in a human, I’m pretty sure he’d be the most sensitive, best boyfriend ever.

16th– I don’t care what anyone else thinks, that fox song makes me laugh out loud with genuine joy every time I hear it.

17th– My waiter at lunch today was cute and I’m actually pretty sure he was flirting with me and by halfway through the meal I COULDN’T EVEN MAKE EYE CONTACT anymore because I was so flustered. This is why I will die alone, people.

22nd– If I was to die by choking on a crescent roll, I would be perfectly fine with that, as long as I got to finish it and it was the last bite I choked on.

29th– I just wanna know Ed Sheeran better.

31st– What do you get when you drop a pumpkin?…… Squash. Hahahahahahaha I can’t stop laughing about this, WHY IS IT SO FUNNY TO ME?!? Happy Halloween, guys…. hahaha

NOVEMBER 

1st– The only thing better about getting up in the morning as opposed to going to sleep at night is that in the morning I don’t have to floss.

3rd– I don’t care that you’re almost double my age and already have a wife, marry me Derek Fisher.

6th– Nothing quite brightens your day like finding one of your cat’s hairs caught in your girl moustache, especially after you realize you’ve already been out in public for two hours. Real self-esteem booster.

9th– Heard a knock at the door and assumed it was Kasey Phipps coming to pick me up, so I answered the door without looking and treated my mail lady to a view of me shirtless. You’re welcome, ma’am.

11th– I am just so thrilled with The Voice this season, every single person I wanted to go on to the Top 12 did. So no matter what, someone I like is going to win– BEST. SEASON. EVER.

12th– There’s two old men behind me at lunch engaged in an intense, heavily detailed discussion of Malteses and it’s pretty much the most hilarious thing ever. Like, one guy just started making whining noises to show the other guy what his dog sounds like.

13th– I moustache you if you have met the newest member of our family, Gustav Mustachio?

15th– Watching Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta and my dad just looks up and goes, “Is that Bruce Jenner? Are we watching Kardashians? What is going on?” Oh, Daddy. What’s going on is the pathetic fact that the most exciting part of my day is watching Friday Bride Day on TLC with my father who hates reality TV shows.

17th– Flossing is such a bittersweet endeavor, because on the one hand you’re like, “Eww I can’t believe this stuff was in my teeth!” but on the other you’re like, “Oooh that stuff is now out of my teeth!”

27th– Me singing to Rae: “Damn you look sexy, let’s go to my yacht in the West Keys, ride my jet skis.” Rachel: “You know, sometimes you sing to me, and I don’t think you really mean it… I don’t think you really have a yacht in the West Keys at all.”

28th– I just applied for a job on Thanksgiving, I’m going to go ahead and assume that my day was more productive than yours…. But just barely though, because I also fell asleep against my own father earlier after eating more food than I have in about two months.

30th– This morning, unexpectedly, my baby dog Cash died in my lap. We raised him from birth, and when my family wanted to sell him (because four dogs are a lot), I just couldn’t stand it, so we kept my sweet boy. We don’t really have many pictures of him, because he was such an active, happy boy, always moving and running around, chasing the ball with his mom Sadie. He was the youngest of our dogs, barely seven, and losing him came out of nowhere. Life really just isn’t fair, and my heart is completely broken.

DECEMBER

4th– I reread my blog post about Cash earlier and cried and then I’ve been playing on Neopets for like an hour and now I’m about to make an omelette at 2:16 in the morning somebody please send help I don’t know what’s happened to my life it’s a bad joke

5th– You know you have Labs when you go outside to break through the inch of ice on their water, and they show up layered in snow with tennis balls and plastic pots they expect you to throw for them to chase.

6th– Me: “Rae, do you know what ChatRoulette is?” Rachel: “Um, red cat. Wait, that’s chat rouge!” …..Guess that answered my question.

18th– A couple weeks ago I was doing the dishes and my daddy walked over to me and handed me one of those round scrubby shower loofahs and asked if I could use it and I told him that I’d take it, and he said that no, he meant can’t I use it to do the dishes, and I said I guess, and when he realized I was confused he said, “Isn’t that what these are for?” And in retrospect, he’s both the cutest but really also a genius, because what’s stopping us from using a shower loofah to do the dishes, really?

19th– I had a dream that I taught Robert De Niro how to “make it rain” with playing cards. Soooo… yep. That was a thing that happened.

21st– It’s 3:30 in the morning, and with one hand I’m reading the current draft of my novel-in-progress with the Kindle app on my phone, and with the other hand I’m twirling around a cat toy for my two cats to chase… this is my life in a nutshell

22nd– After years and years of wanting to go, I’m so happy I FINALLY got to see The Nutcracker with ma mere, it was simply, absolutely amazing! Thank you Momma!! — with Cheryl Munyon Rowe at Oklahoma City Ballet.

24th– “A crummy commercial??? Son of a bitch.” <– Me when there’s a pause in 24 hours of A Christmas Story.

26th– I’m exhausted because I stayed up all night watching the marathon of Pushing Daisies, and the only regret I have is that it ever got cancelled in the first place. Seriously one of the best shows ever made, and I’m still outraged five years later on its behalf.

27th– Three engagement notifications from Facebook…. only further rubbing salt in the wound of Peeta Mellark not being real and the acceptance that I’ll die alone because I’ve set my standards impossibly, fictionally high.

29th– I woke up at 7:30 this morning because my two cats were sprawled on my legs and feet giving each other baths that turned into a fight and I just want to know is this what my future looks like???

31st– From the fortune cookie app on my phone: “If you eat a live toad in the morning, nothing worse can happen to you throughout the day.”
….. I’m so grateful to be armed with this vital life wisdom as I face a new year (even though I highly question the veracity of that statement).

31st– Sending off 2013 with a blog post about my year in review through Facebook statuses… and so, appropriately, I’m going to take this time to announce that I am finally making a Facebook author page for my blogs, which I hope you’ll go like, even as my soul withers silently at the presumptuousness. 

 

Thank you everyone who has read, commented, shared, liked, and just generally supported my blog throughout 2013. It has been a year of enormous changes, with incredible highs and plunging lows, and I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without this blog to express myself. But that’s the thing with life, you never know what you’ll get, and I’m just thankful for the one I have. I’m also thankful for every single one of you– you all are truly what makes doing this worthwhile. I’m wishing you a most wonderful end to 2013, and a fabulous 2014.
Cheers to you!

 

Cash

Grief is the strangest thing.
Currently my ears are hot and I’m a little bit sick to my stomach, and I don’t want to write this. I’m not crying, but perhaps that will change shortly.
When I wrote about my beloved cat Boo dying in September, I had to wait a few weeks before I could even get back on this blog and put words down. But what comforted me often during the period after I lost him was thinking about all the words I was going to write down when I inevitably blogged about it. When I finally did post, I sat down and just let all the words I wanted to say flow out, along with my tears. My grief for him was a storm– it was wild and often out of control, and descended upon me suddenly, often without warning, and sometimes when triggered by specific conditions.
On Friday evening my sister and I were at Target when my mom called me to tell us they were rushing our dog to the vet because he had collapsed. We found out he had an auto-immune disorder, where his immune system attacked his red blood cells and caused him to become dangerously anemic. He had possibly suffered a stroke when he had collapsed, and his spleen was enormously swollen. The doctor gave him injections, prescribed medicines for us to give him, and told us that he had a very good chance of being fine.
We took him home– we had to carry him because he was too weak to walk– and we settled him in our living room to watch. The vet had told us he would hopefully be up and around by tomorrow even. Throughout the night, he was able to lift himself and drink water numerous times, which our vet told us was a great sign. I sat up all night with him, and around seven in the morning, I realized he could no longer sit up. I thought he might have worn himself out, and so I hesitated to wake my mom up. After a little bit, however, I checked his eyes and realized they were rolled up into his head, and his breathing was becoming labored. I flew into my mom’s room and told her, begging her to call the vet. He told us to meet him at the vet office in thirty minutes.
We only live about five minutes from the vet’s office. It’s incredibly difficult to stall for time when you think your pet might be dying. We lifted my dog into the backseat of our car, with his head on my lap so I could hold him in place, and rushed over to the vet’s office. We arrived about fifteen minutes before he did. Or maybe that estimate was completely wrong; all I know was that my dog was not responsive and I was in something of a daze. We sat waiting in the car, desperately watching for our vet, while I ran my hand over and over my dog’s laboring sides, muttering soothing nonsense words to him.
Suddenly he jerked, and his breathing became erratic, and he started thrashing. He jerked so hard his back end fell off the seat. I was holding his upper body and desperately blowing air into his mouth, imploring my sister to push on his chest and doing it myself before she had a chance. I kept shouting his name, over and over, and telling him to wake up, to stop, to hold on.
It was so surreal. It felt like a moment in a bad movie, when one person dies and the other hovers over them, dramatically pleading with them to hang on even when they know they can’t. My sister and my mom had gotten out of the front seat of the car and were standing at the door, and they were crying and crying. And I just… I couldn’t cry. Because this moment couldn’t be real. It was like my brain simply could not comprehend what was happening. My dog was dying in my lap, and there was literally nothing I could do. Nothing. I was irrelevant. I didn’t matter.
I’m starting to tear up now as I write this. But I wasn’t at the time. I think someone finally said, “He’s gone.” And I just sat there, holding him in my lap and not crying, and in the back of my mind I distantly could hear a voice say, why aren’t you crying? but all I could do was just look at my boy, all I could feel was the way his body had gone slack in my arms, all I could hear was the absence of those deep, hard breaths he’d been taking.
What I’ve learned in the past few months is that one of the worst, most confusing moments of death is that moment right after they’ve gone. Literally seconds before, this body I was holding in my lap had contained my dog, Cash. It had just been the puppy we’d raised from birth, the one who had a white spot on his chest, even though he was an AKC registered Labrador, and they weren’t really supposed to have white on them. This was the dog my parents were going to sell because we already had three. He was the last of the second litter that we’d raised to sell to still be at our house (we had a boy dog named Riley and a girl dog named Sadie, and we’d already had a litter of puppies from them the year before that we’d sold, except for one named Johnny, who we kept).
This memory is so crystal clear to me. Cash was a few months old, and he was sprawled sleeping on the floor of our living room, right by the couch (because it was in a different place in our living room at that time) and next to the step up to the entry way. He was sleeping away, that hard, committed sleep of a puppy that’s worn itself out, a sprawl of black limbs, and I could just see that white spot on his chest. And they were talking about giving him to this sheriff who was interested in him, and how he could be a sheriff’s dog, and ride around with him, and I just started crying. And I laid my head against him and he looked up at me with these melting ambery-brown eyes and I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t bear for him to go. He was my Cash puppy; a strange name for a dog, but I was the one who had chosen it, because I was reading some ridiculous Diana Palmer romance novel when we were naming the puppies, and the hero was named Cash (the heroine was named Tippy, so the naming thing went better than it could have). And we already had a one year old dog we’d kept from our first litter named Johnny, so how cute to name a puppy in the next litter Cash! And now, how cute if we had dogs named Johnny and Cash! And I cried and I cried and I cried, and even after my parents agreed to let us keep him, I couldn’t stop crying for a while, because I was so scared at the thought of him going.
So come Saturday morning, I’m sitting here holding the body of this dog in my lap. And I’m so bewildered, because I’m staring at that little white spot on his chest, where the fur grew upwards for some strange reason, and I can’t understand how that white patch of hair means nothing anymore. This sudden absence, this disappearance to a place we simply cannot follow, is one of the worst things I’ve ever been forced to experience when losing someone I love. A few hours before, we were doing everything we could to care for that body, to make it better. And now, it was meaningless.
The vet arrived probably five or ten minutes after Cash was gone; again, I might be a little hazy on the details. My mom got out to speak with him; I couldn’t move because I was holding my dog on my lap. And my sister was sitting in the car crying and crying, and my sister never cries, and she kept saying, “Why can’t he just stop talking, we just want to go home!” and it was so strange because she is always the calm one, the reasonable one. And I remember thinking in this very distant way how I felt bad for the vet, because he’d had to drive from a long way out to meet us specially on a Saturday when the vet was closed and he was making an exception for us, and now he’d come all this way for nothing, and perhaps the least we could do was have our mom speak to him to tell him what happened.
Finally my mom came back and told us that the vet was pretty sure that Cashy must have suffered another stroke that morning. It seemed strangely irrelevant to me at that point. I was already bewildered with the rapidity of what had happened, the shock of finding out that our eternally healthy Cash had collapsed, to finding out he had some bizarre disease we had never heard of and knew nothing about, to thinking that he was improving ahead of schedule, to his sudden and abrupt decline.
My dad had had to work that day, and I realized I needed to tell him what had happened. I called, but he didn’t answer, and so my mom started the car. As we were pulling out, my dad called back, and all I could say was, “Daddy,” before I collapsed into sobs. As painfully dry as my eyes had been before, belatedly the truth struck me like a fist and I couldn’t even speak. I cried on the phone incoherently as we drove home, Cash’s body still in my lap, and I couldn’t seem to stop myself from still running my hand over him, like somehow that would soothe him from the trauma of dying. My dad just kept saying he was sorry over and over again, and again, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was so sorry for my dad, who feeds and waters and takes care of our dogs practically every day, and who had to go through an entire day of work before he could even come home and try and deal with what was waiting.
There was nothing to say when I finally could stop sobbing about how Cash died in my lap, and so I hung up the phone after telling my dad I loved him. We got home and parked in the yard, close to the gate to our side yard where we have an old pen that we kept the puppies in when we were raising them. We lifted Cash out in the sheet we’d put over the seat, and laid him down under one of the trees. It was cold outside, and my shoes had fallen off while we were trying to move him, but I couldn’t care enough to go get them and put them on.
Death is rarely a clean process, and I was determined to clean Cash up as best as I could. My mom brought me wipes and paper towels and I sat outside alone in my front yard, crying and snotting all over my sleeves, and doing the last thing I could think to do for my little black puppy with the white spot. The sheet Cash was on was very dirty by this point, and I was determined he would not be buried in it. I took the bright green sheet that I’d slept on my first year of college, and when I was finally done cleaning up Cash, my mom came outside with me and helped me move him onto it, and into the old dog pen. I wanted desperately to bury him, and it seemed impossible to wait the hours and hours for my dad to come home from work (it was barely eight, and my dad wouldn’t be home until around four or four thirty that afternoon). It was cold outside, and I just didn’t want to leave Cash laying in the yard in the cold. It was so wrong; I didn’t care if his body was empty of him, it was the closest thing I had left. I was ready to dig the hole and lift him into it myself at the point, until my mother quietly pointed out that my father would probably like to be there when we buried him. I thought of the hours and hours and hours my father had devoted to our dogs, and there was no more talk of burying him then.
I went inside to take a shower, as I was fairly cold by this point, especially since I hadn’t been wearing shoes. But when I went in the bathroom, I was suddenly overcome by the finality of it. It seemed like if I took a shower, I washed off the last traces of Cash’s life, and I just couldn’t take it another second. I kept repeating over and over that I couldn’t bear it, I just couldn’t bear it. My insides drew up so tight that it felt like I’d been punched in the stomach, and I kept doubling over in a fruitless effort to alleviate the pain. I kept flashing through parallels of my beloved Boo dying before my eyes and not even three full months later my precious Cash doing the same. And I was suddenly overwhelmed with the crippling, paralyzing recognition that there are so, so very many I love that can die, and it just didn’t seem possible to live with the knowledge.
I put my clothes back on and put on a bigger jacket, one which I always wear when I go outside to play with the dogs. I went into the pen where we’d put Cash, and I laid down in the leaves next to him and cried as I stared up at a beautiful blue sky, and ran my hand across his silky black ear.
I’ve no idea how long I stayed like that, but when I finally got up to go inside, I took my jacket off and spread it over him, so he wouldn’t get cold.
I slept until my father got home, and when I woke there was that brief, cruel moment where I didn’t remember what had happened, and the crushing, agonizing recollection that followed it. We buried Cash in the pen where he was raised, and I saw my father cry for one of the very few times in my life. We wrapped him in my sheet and tucked a tennis ball in with him and buried him.
I don’t know why I shared all of this. I didn’t want to start writing this post, unlike with Boo’s, and I in no way wanted to recount what was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. But these words have just come out, with no prior planning and intent. I couldn’t stand to post what the actual end of Boo’s life was like, because I physically cannot type those words. But for some reason, as I’ve written this, I couldn’t stop myself from speaking of Cash’s death. I am constantly perplexed by the infinite types of grief that exist, and the endless array of ways we deal with it. I’m sitting here and I cannot make sense of why I’ve done this. I still want to speak of Cash’s life, too.
He was barely seven years old, and I’m still stunned by the injustice of his death. He was the youngest of our four dogs, and he’d never been sick a day in his life. His favorite thing to do was chase tennis balls with his mom, Sadie, and they would play endlessly. Anytime Cash got the ball from Sadie, he would tease her with it, and jerk it away the second she got close to him. Then he would chew messily on the ball, drool flying, chomp chomp chomp, until I took the ball out of his mouth or Sadie managed to. If you scratched above his tail, he was physically incapable of stopping himself from lifting his back leg and scratching. He loved to roll around in the grass and half the time he didn’t even eat the little dog bones we give our dogs, because he was picky. He was ornery, and he loved to rile up his brother and dad, and you couldn’t have him in the house too long because he would usually try and pee on something.  He wasn’t a small dog, but compared to his 120 pound father and 100 pound brother, he always looked so slim and young darting around everywhere. When it snowed a few weeks ago, I remember looking out our bay window, and he was the only one out, rolling gleefully around in the snow. Cash was the most expert jumper I’ve ever seen. There was not a single fence or gate in our yard he couldn’t get over, if he wanted. But Cash loved us and loved his pack fiercely, and he never once tried to get out, even on a couple memorable occasions when certain naughty other dogs did and left the gate open. Cash always was a happy dog, and he always looked like he had a little grin on his face. We don’t have very many pictures of Cash when he’s older, because he was always running and moving and playing. It seems impossible to me, sitting here in my living room typing this, that he’s not outside in the backyard now, curled up with the other dogs. For seven years, every time I’ve looked outside my mind automatically looks for four, and for the past couple of days I’ve literally felt a stab in my heart when I count one missing.
I once read in a book that heaven is a place where every animal you’ve ever loved comes to greet you when you arrive. That’s certainly the most beautiful idea of heaven I’ve ever heard of, and that’s what I’m hoping for.

I love you so, so very much my sweet Cashy boy, and I promise you that will never, ever stop. And if I could go back this very second to that moment six years ago, when you were laying on the floor and I was sitting a few feet away looking at you and thinking about giving you to someone else, it wouldn’t even take a heartbeat for me to lay my head down on you again and cry until my parents let me keep you.

Cash

My precious Cash when he  was a puppy and my sweet Boo baby not being too pleased about his presence.

My precious Cash when he was a puppy and my sweet Boo baby not being too pleased about his presence.

Snippet Two: Two Months

He’d been sick for a few weeks, but finally her cat no longer seemed bothered by the illness that had been plaguing him. He watched her now through half-opened eyes, and she ran a hand lovingly over his fur.
After a few moments of soothing, she gently lifted and held him in her arms, still mindful of his recent frailty. She lost track of time as she cuddled him close, memorizing the smooth, soft feel of his fur against her fingers and feeling love in her heart. Eventually she tenderly nestled him into his box, covered him with a soft, brown blanket, and left him to rest peacefully.
The next day it rained. She stood outside and watched as the water washed away muddy clumps from the fresh mound of soft, brown dirt under the window, and the rain was her grief all around her, an inescapable storm.

IMG_20130721_010525

(Just a note, November 8 marked two months since I lost the love of my life, my precious cat of 16 years, Boo. It was truthfully a rough day for me, especially since someone I know lost their cat of many years that same day. All of the grief and anger and heartbreak of losing my boy came back to me, and then I was doubly upset because someone else I knew was going through what had happened to me. As I was curled up crying late that night, I ended up writing this, and somehow it helped.)

Boo

It’s two in the morning, and as I have so often lately, I am finding it very hard to sleep.
Today’s post, let me just warn you, is not funny. There’s no gifs or memes or silly jokes. Today’s post is about one of the hardest things I have ever experienced in my life. If you are one of those people who thinks pets are just animals, who don’t really have souls or real thoughts or connections with people, then I would like to politely ask that you stop here. This post is not for you, and I hope you will respect how hard this is for me and keep all that to yourself.
Now, if you have ever read my blog at all, you know I am a dedicated, passionate crazy cat lady. The reason I became a crazy cat lady, is because for sixteen years, I have had the best, most perfect cat anyone could ever ask for. From the time I was six when we first brought him home, my cat Boo-Boo has been my baby, my best friend, and the love of my life. He has been the sweetest, most loving cat imaginable, and we have long been inseparable. To be honest, I can’t even remember my life before Boo; there were actually very few of my total years on this earth that I spent without him, so that’s probably not surprising. In both the very lowest and the very best times of my life, he has been there for me– to cry on, to laugh at, to dance around,  to spoil, to tease, to cuddle, to nap with, to watch tv with, to read books with, to tell about soccer and boys and my friends and family and my dreams and my favorite foods and how much I hated math and how one day I was going to hold him in my wedding dress and take the cutest cat lady pictures imaginable.
Boo has been perhaps the most constant thing in my entire life; he has been wholly mine, in a way that other people can never truly be, because they have goals and dreams and aspirations separate from every other person. We all share and yet are divided by that inescapable, unbridgeable, alien quality where we can never, ever truly know one another totally and understand each other perfectly. But my cat– his only aspirations have ever been to eat, sleep, and love and be loved in return. I understood and connected with him better than almost any other person I have ever met, and what has been amazing me lately to think about is the blatantly obvious but still astonishing fact that we accomplished this without him ever saying word. I mean, of course cats don’t talk, but think about trying to becomes friends with or fall in love with someone who never, ever says a single word to you in 16 years. That’s one of the best, most mystical parts about pets, I think– you build a closer relationship with them than with most people you know, without them saying a thing.
But one of the hardest, most terrible things about pets is this- they are going to break your heart. Unless you die freakishly young, or have a pet at the very end of your life, almost without fail, you’re going to lose your pet long before you die. When I was six years old, and we brought two scared little kittens home, I didn’t really understand this lesson. All I knew was that one of my nana’s cats had kittens, and then got hit by a car when they were still very small. One kitten, a girl, went to a nice family, but we still had two little boy kittens left. One of the kittens was white, with a big black spot right over his face, so I dubbed him Patch. You might be wondering where a slightly strange name like Boo-Boo came from, and let me just state right now– my mom came up with that one. It came about because when he was a little kitten (so long ago I can’t even really remember what he looked like as a kitten) he had such big eyes that he looked scared all the time, like someone was trying to frighten him. Thus, came Boo-Boo. (I repeat, my mom thought this up, not me.)
One night, while we were all having dinner at my nana’s, a lady rang the doorbell, and produced the two kittens, who she had found in the busy street my nana lived on. It was decided the kittens could not stay there. So we took them to our house, where my dad sternly told us they were to stay a week at the most while we found homes for them. As the months passed, it was finally accepted that home was with us.
Funnily enough, Boo did not start out as my kitty. His very crazed brother, Patch, was my cat, and Boo was my sister Rachel’s. A year after we got them, however, Patch simply slipped out of the house one day and never came back. My sister, who has always been more of a dog person and was a little tired of having her own cat, “graciously” allowed me to have Boo for my own. I never looked back.
When he was about six, and I was about twelve, Boo became very, very sick. He was going to the bathroom all over the house, and there was blood in his litter. Terrified, we took him to the vet, who informed us that his urinary tract had formed crystals, and he needed a very expensive surgery to even have a chance at surviving, if he even was able to survive the very dangerous, risky surgery. I don’t know where my parents got the money, but my mother has always loved Boo as much as I do, and there was never a question that we wouldn’t get him the surgery. He was sick for months and months; my mom and I had to force feed him watery, wet cat food from a syringe. He stayed at the vet for weeks. I had their number memorized, and I called every day to see if I could take him home yet. Everyone eventually knew who I was, and they were all so kind to me. Amazingly, he made it through the surgery, and little by little he got better. Finally, one day, I was allowed to take my baby kitty home.
As often happens, nearly losing him made me even closer to Boo.  I can remember spending hours playing this silly game I made up, where I would sit in my entryway and bounce a little bouncy ball against the walls while he chased it, and I awarded him points for different things. Boo has always loved laser pointers, and I was such a little punk I used to make him chase it around in a circle until he would get dizzy and fall over, and I would laugh and laugh because his fat tummy would be swinging around everywhere. I went through a phase where I couldn’t go to sleep without the tv being on and I refused to sleep anywhere but on the couch, and Boo slept with me.
At one point, Boo escaped off our back porch somehow, and I thought he was lost forever, just like his brother. I was completely broken-hearted. But the next day, we suddenly heard meowing at the back door. Boo had come slinking back, completely beat up but alive, and knowing where his home was. He never tried to leave again after that.
When I started middle school, completely terrified and desperately trying to get used to the change, I leaned on my kitty. I was worried about meeting new people and making new friends, and I was so upset because I was no longer “popular.” At the sixth grade Valentine’s dance, however, I was crowned “Duchess of Hearts.” They gave a me a plastic crown and a pink teddy bear. I came home in triumph and took a picture in my fancy dress and hair and makeup, holding my fat kitty in my arms as he looked terribly irritated.
When we got a puppy and moved into our new house around seventh or eighth grade, I was worried Boo might get upset, but he took the move with aplomb, and ignored the puppy with regal disdain. When I randomly decided I wanted a bird, the intense hatred between Boo and Pete the Parakeet was legendary. Boo, who was by far too fat and lazy to ever successfully launch any sort of attack on Pete, would sit patiently for hours, his tail twitching as he hungrily watched Pete, who hopped around and chirped as loudly as possible to taunt him. When Pete– who was already a very old bird when we got him from a family who couldn’t take him when they moved– died after a year, Boo mourned with me (though not, I think, for the same reasons).
Like most of humankind, I was a moody, restless teenager. Sometimes I felt so restless it was like I was going to explode out of my skin if I couldn’t do something. When things got really bad, Boo would always somehow know, and come curl up next to me. When I was devastated about something that happened in soccer, or when a guy I liked didn’t like me back, or I was mad at my parents or my sister, I would cry my eyes out about it on Boo’s fur, and he never minded. When I discovered that I wanted to be a writer, and spent hours writing bad stories and angsty poetry on the desktop in our dining room, Boo would come and sit on the computer tower. It was warm, and I always put my feet on it and he would snuggle up to them. It was always so funny because he was so fat that he kind of just melted over the sides, but he always seemed so content.
When my sister graduated high school and went away to college, I remember laying in our room together and turning my back to her and just crying the night before she left for school for the first time. After she went to sleep, I came out into the living room and just held my Boo kitty. I was convinced my sister was going to forget about me, but I was soothed by the knowledge that my Boo never would. The four years she was gone were incredibly difficult for me, because she was my best friend. I became ever closer to Boo in that time, because he filled in for her to some degree.
When I was in high school, we got this floor heater that looked like a fake mini fireplace, and whenever it got cold I would spend hours just laying in front of it with my feet propped up on the tiny grate, and Boo would sprawl out beside me to roast his fat little tummy. My senior year I finally got my license and could drive myself to school in the mornings. I would wake up just a little bit after everyone else had already left, and I would sit in front of the heater and Boo and I would share a bowl of cereal, every single morning. Sometimes I would be late to class, just because I would be so perfectly happy in those moments that I couldn’t make myself leave.
When, to my utter excitement, my prom nights came around, we laughingly recreated the pictures from the Valentine’s dance in sixth grade, with me holding my grumpy kitty upside down in my arms in my prom dress.
My grandma died on Christmas Eve my junior year of high school. My dad woke me up to tell me, then we sat on my bed and cried together. My heart was breaking doubly seeing my dad really cry for the first time ever. The rest of the day I just carried Boo around with me, holding him tight.
I don’t remember exactly when I started sleeping in the living room at my house, but I’ve been doing it for a few years now. I told my family I was just too old to share a room with my sister anymore, but the truth? I just wanted to be able to sleep with Boo cuddled up next to me. And as he started getting older, I admit that I spent more nights than I can count crying on his fur and imagining what it would be like if I lost him. But he always was in such great health, just a fat, happy little kitty who loved his family.
My family talked a few times about getting another kitten, but the very idea made me angry. What could we possibly need another kitten for when we already had the best cat in the world? When I went away to college, someone suggested that Boo might get lonely since I would be gone and enjoy another cat’s company, but I scorned that idea. The first month I was at school, I usually cried before I fell asleep because I missed my sweet little boy curled up next to me. I never stayed a weekend at school the entire four years I was in college, and if I am being completely honest, it’s because I couldn’t stand to be away from my baby that long.
My sophomore year, however, in May right after we gotten out of school, we went to Ross to go shopping on Mother’s Day. My dad and I decided to walk next door to Petsmart, just to look at the cats for adoption. I took one look at Finn, and I was a goner. I just knew I had to have him. His eyes were such a bright green, and he had little black tufts of fur on the tips of his ears, and the most adorable little snaggletooth. My mom stringently objected, especially since Finn was no little kitten for Boo to get used to. But I simply knew he was meant to be my cat, and to my shock I found myself with another cat. It was a very confusing experience; I honestly felt like I was cheating on Boo. And Boo’s reaction ended up being the worst case scenario.
I can’t blame him; he’d been the only cat in our family (and the only real inside pet) for fourteen years. I’m not even sure Boo knew he was a cat, so the shock of another one must have been crazy. Then, we went away on vacation for a week and left them alone together.
Boo just stopped eating.
I don’t know how to convey to you how alarming that was. Boo has always been a very fat cat, because he just adores eating more than almost anything. He began wasting away, and the only thing that kept him alive was us force feeding three times a day. My mother drove him to the vets almost every morning so they could give him fluid from an IV. It was one of the darkest points in my life; my cat was slowly starving himself to death, and it was entirely my fault for bringing some stupid new cat home. I was dying of guilt as I was watching my baby dying. At the same time we were running all these tests, trying to make sure that there wasn’t something wrong with him, some illness or disease doing this to him. He wasn’t interested in anything anymore, and my heart broke to pieces every time he fought me so violently when I tried to feed him, and moved somewhere else anytime I tried to sit with him. For three months I was terrified the love of my life was going to die, and it was going to be entirely my fault.
Finally, the vet gave him some medicine that was supposed to treat depression in cats. A few days later, we were all eating lunch. Boo was over with my dad, whom he spent a lot of time with during those months. Suddenly, my dad says, “He’s eating.” My dad had given Boo a piece of smothered steak, and Boo had decided to live again. I sat down on the floor of my living room and bawled tears of joy. My baby gained back his weight and went back to his normal self, and suddenly he and Finn were the best of friends. Life was right again.
Finn is a very special cat, and he’s kind of insane, in the best way. It was so entertaining to have him around, and I felt reassured again that he was meant to be with us. But there was never any doubt who was my baby, who was the love of my life.
When my papa had to have an outpatient procedure done in July 2012, it went suddenly wrong and he went into a coma. For two days we waited at the hospital while the doctors told our numbed minds that his chances of surviving were very, very slim. And when he passed away, my baby was there for me, letting me cry on him as always.
College was an eye-opening, life-changing experience. I made a fool out of myself so many times; I made mistakes and trusted the wrong people and made new friends and rethought my entire mindset and had my heart broken and basically, just grew up. Every weekend I would come home, though, and no matter what had happened, I would rush through the door and Boo would be waiting there for me, curled up on the loveseat or the couch. I would sit down next to him, and just pet his little purring body, and no matter how awful life had seemed, suddenly it couldn’t possibly as bad as I thought it was. My favorite picture I took the day I graduated college Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 was the one that I took holding my Boo kitty before I left for the graduation ceremony, holding him upside down in my arms in my dress, exactly like I had in sixth grade.
This summer has been the laziest I have ever been in my life, and that’s saying something. But I had graduated college, by god, and I was going to have to work the rest of my life. I had money saved up, and so I basically just took the summer off. I stayed up late writing, and then slept in as late as I wanted. I lazed around, played soccer, read books, and did very little else. I spent this entire summer cuddling with my cats, and blogging about how much I loved them. It was idyllic, and I will be grateful for it for the rest of my life.
Then, about a month and a half ago, I started getting very sick after I ate, and then started having problems with my digestion. I lost my appetite, and I’ve lost like ten pounds because some days I just couldn’t eat. We finally established that I needed to see a specialist. This whole time I’ve been sick, Boo has been there for me. He’s comforted me and loved me and helped me deal with being desperately ill and almost constantly nauseous. A little over a week ago, I was the sickest I had been during the whole duration of this mysterious illness. I was sitting on my bathroom floor crying, because I couldn’t stop dry heaving. Boo just came right into the bathroom and nuzzled up against me, and I picked him up and held him and stopped feeling so sick. He was there for me, as always.
A month or so ago, Boo’s eye started running. We weren’t too concerned about it, because it had happened before. He has always been a very sniffly cat, who had colds regularly, complete with runny nose and sneezing. But one day, his runny nose had a little bit of blood in it. We still weren’t that worried, but didn’t want to take any chances. He was getting older, after all. We took him to the vet, who prescribed him some antibiotics to clear things up. We gave them to him, but it didn’t seem to get better. His nose got a little bloodier, so I took him back. This time, our vet said that it seemed like his face was a little swollen on the right, and she thought something must be blocking the tear ducts that run between his eye and nose, and that’s why his eye was watering. She gave us eyedrops for him. Boo did NOT like those, I can tell you. I started giving them to him regularly, and for a while, it seemed to help. His eye stopped watering for a few days. But then he started sneezing blood. Pure blood. His nose started running blood. We got very worried. Then, late on the Thursday before last, blood started leaking out of his tear ducts into his eyes. Both sides of his nose and eyes started having blood. I panicked, and didn’t sleep at all before rushing him to the vet as soon as they opened. The vet came in, I told her what was happening, and she said, “We need to keep him for x-rays. I’m afraid he might have a tumor.”
I was blind-sided. Utterly blind-sided.
Of course, Boo was an older cat, and I always knew in the back of my mind that cancer was a possibility. But he wasn’t that old, he was only sixteen. Truthfully, I more tortured myself with the idea that he might get so old that the vet would want to put him down, and I didn’t know how I could ever possibly do that. But a tumor? Where did this come from? We’d had him to the vet twice, and they’d said nothing about this. He had seemed perfectly fine, except for the blood, but he never acted like he was in pain or acted any differently. He was his sweet, precious, perfect self, as usual.
In utter shock, I had to face both the idea that he might have a tumor, and the fact that I had to leave him at the vet. What if he got scared? What if he stopped eating? What if the other animals scared him? Numbly, I gave the most precious thing I owned to the vet and got into my car. As soon as I drove away, I started bawling. Ugly, nasty, painful sobs. I hadn’t slept all night, and I hadn’t eaten anything either. That day, I got so sick my family almost took me to the emergency room. Finally late in the afternoon they let Boo come home, saying they hadn’t been able to see anything on the x-rays, and they would need to try and arrange for an MRI on Monday for him to see for sure what we were dealing with.
By five o’clock on Sunday, September 8th, my baby was gone. I can’t talk about what it was like over that weekend; those last few memories with him are both too painful and too precious to try and put into words. I’m still so in shock over it happening that it’s hard for me to really comprehend. His condition deteriorated almost blindingly fast, but I truly don’t think he was really in pain except for the very last few minutes, before that eased. He died curled against my leg, as we had spent so, so many hours together.
We’re not even completely sure what happened, but a vet told us that he suspected that Boo had an advanced tumor that didn’t show any signs until the very end. That’s just like my sweet boy; he managed it so that we didn’t have to agonize over him being sick for more than a couple of days. I held him in my arms for however long; I don’t even know because I wasn’t aware of time passing. All I could think was this was the last time I would ever have to cuddle my baby. We buried him right by our front door, in a flowerbed under the big bay window in the front of our house. The loveseat he loved to lay on is right by the window that looks out over where he’s at. My mom had an old, sturdy drawer for god knows whatever reason. It was the perfect size for him, and we wrapped him in a soft green blanket that was almost the same color as his eyes. Then my dad cut a piece of wood to go over it, and dug the hole for him even though it hurt his back incredibly bad to do it. I put the drawer into the hole, and buried my baby.

I know this post has been too long. I know it’s been ugly and rambling and you might not have even made it this far. I wouldn’t blame you. I’ve always hated reading about animals dying, because it broke my heart thinking about the pets I love dying. But truthfully, this is the flimsiest, most inadequate thing I’ve ever written. Boo gave me sixteen years of devotion. Sixteen years. How do you fit sixteen years of unconditional love into a blog post? I debated about if I would even write anything, because I haven’t even been able to stand the idea. I’ve had to stop so many times as I’ve been writing this, because I couldn’t see through my tears to write. Blogging and this blog seemed so stupid, so pointless since my baby got sick. Since I lost him. How could I possibly put into words the depth of my grief, the measure of my loss? How could I make people understand that he wasn’t just a silly animal, just some cat? And honestly, I don’t know if I managed to make you understand.
But, as he always did, Boo is still giving me things. The first night after I lost him, when I thought I was going to literally lose my mind, it soothed me to lay still and just write down things about him in my head. I just mentally wrote down all my favorite memories of him. I have always hoped that my inclination to write my emotions down meant that I really was suited to be a writer. Losing Boo has convinced me of it, and I have decided I’m going to write an illustrated book about him. I have felt lost, truthfully, since I graduated, and suddenly I have a purpose. Even when he’s gone, my baby is still comforting me.
Maybe this whole post has been a big, ugly mess, but I am fiercely glad I’ve written it. How else to celebrate my baby than sharing just how special he was in the best way I know how? Boo truly was my best friend, and the love of my life. Maybe you think I’m crazy, maybe you think I’m being just a little overdramatic, maybe you think I’m plain ridiculous. But I loved that cat more than almost anything in the entire world. He was a better friend to me than almost any human I’ve ever met, and I shared more with him than almost anybody.
Sixteen years. The majority of my life. From six years old to twenty-two years old. Every important thing that has ever happened to me, and all the stupid, insignificant, pedestrian things, too. He’s been there for all of it. For sixteen years, he was teaching me the most important lesson I think you can ever learn– how to love someone unconditionally. It doesn’t matter how many words I write or which ones they were. There’s simply no way to sum up or convey to someone a relationship that special. So all I can say is, I hope you have someone as good to you as Boo was to me, and then you’ll understand it without a word being spoken.

boo

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