It’s been a rough weekend around here, so I’m afraid I don’t have any funny for you.
I had tons prepared, and we’ll get to it—you’re going to have a rearview look at everything, I’m afraid—but I’m not up to it right now and I recall somewhere along the line promising you honesty.
A few days ago, we became deeply concerned for the Baby Cat. I mean, y’all know he’s been skinny for a while, but he started vomiting and refusing food again and it didn’t take long for me to hit the panic button. So we hauled ass to the vet, who agreed to cram him into their packed schedule because a 5-pound cat can’t not eat.
Long story short, his kidneys were failing. As we sat in the waiting room—waiting for them to warm him above room temperature, waiting for them to pump enough fluids into him to offer any sort of prognosis—I tried not to panic. I promised myself he would be fine because the world was not ready for the rage I would unleash if I didn’t have my soulmate (sorry, Husband is great and all but it was always Baby Cat) by my side.
We also saw the actual devil—if you’re interested, she’s mid-60’s-ish, round-ish, and utterly without shame.
ME: Did I hear her story right?
HIM: … (slips arm around my shoulders) I think so.
ME: (clenching) Did she kill her cat because they moved?!?
HIM: (begins thumbing small circles in my shoulder blade) Yeah.
ME: (rolls neck, tenses, glares at woman)
HIM: (continues massage, places free hand on mine in blatant attempt to save me from murder charge)
ME: I fucking hate people.
HIM: I know.
Yes, while I was sitting there waiting to hear if my almost-16 year-old cat would live or die, this woman had the nerve to tell the receptionist about how they had a cat who was 19 years old and loved to go outside. When they moved, it was only two miles away and they figured the cat would keep finding his way back to the old house. “So,” she explained in the most matter-of-fact tone you can imagine, “we put him down.”
That story has nothing to do with anything, except for the fact that I hate this woman and I forgot to take her picture for a proper internet shaming. This will have to do.
The vet eventually came out to explain that he had my vicious angel warmed and hydrating, but he would need at least three days of supportive care to have any hope of kick-starting his kidneys; we left, insisting on constant updates.
On the morning of the third day, I got the call I was sure couldn’t possibly happen.
Now we come to the reason I’m sharing all of this—other than the honesty thing, which I really am trying to maintain with you. I want to believe that my pain wasn’t totally unique—that my experience wasn’t totally unique—and that sharing this next bit will help someone else feel less alone.
I hung up the phone and Husband started running his stupid mouth in his loud, stupid voice, and I just… hated him. I really did. So I snapped at him to shut up, to go away. He did, with a huff and a sigh and some more stupid questions that I wasn’t going to answer because why should I when I was the one whose world had just ruptured? He kept coming back into the bedroom, trying to talk to me—he seemed to think a lot of time had passed, but I had no proof of this, since I’d blinked maybe twice and time was meaningless—and I couldn’t help but notice how… fragile he was. In a detached sort of way, I contemplated the fact that if one were to slice open his abdomen, all the vital bits would just spill out in a big shiny slorpy pile and he’d stop working. Such thoughts being completely foreign to me, I again barked at him to stop talking.
He shouted something about how he was hurting too, that I was being unfair by shutting everyone out, shutting down, and I turned away to contemplate whether I had the physical energy to get a really big fire going. (Spoiler: I did not. I barely managed to wash my hair. It’s a good thing for humanity I’m so fuckin’ lazy, I swear.)
Eventually Husband and Offspring (who, I couldn’t help but notice, was in the habit of keeping his important and delicate brain bits inside a smashable skull thing) left to go “say goodbye.”* I sat alone with my thoughts for a few minutes, then picked up the phone and dialled my therapist—which went directly to the after-hours service, but same thing.
I explained how I was feeling and the thinks I was thinking and that I maybe needed to go somewhere for a while. You know, just until Husband learned to shut his goddamned mouth.
Honestly, if I hadn’t been as detached as I was, I probably wouldn’t have made the call. I certainly wouldn’t have made that request. But I felt like the outer layers of me had been ripped away and all that was left was exposed nerve and emotional extremes. There I was, feeling only big things in a world full of stupid tiny people with their tiny feelings and their constant noises, and I wanted to escape badly enough to beg for a padded room.
What I was offered was a bed at the hospital, if I wanted it, for exactly as long as I wanted it. The on-call therapist also talked to Husband, over the phone, basically telling him two things:
- Everyone grieves in their own way; your wife needs to be left alone to grieve.
- Stop talking. It’s agitating her, for whatever reason.
Miraculously, as soon as everyone shut the fuck up and agreed to do whatever I wanted, I lay down and took a nap. For most of the day. The therapist called back to check on me, and I gave her contact numbers out the wazoo, including Husband’s (and she talked to him some more, probably making him promise that he’d call 911 if I wandered into the kitchen.)
Should I have gone to the hospital? Maybe. Probably. But there were people there, and someone would have tried to talk to me and I might have actually hurt someone so that might have ended badly in my specific case. But! Now you can say you know someone who’s been in that situation, if you didn’t already. So if you’re ever that low, or worried… just make the call and go get yourself a nice comfy spot where you don’t have to take care of everyone else or worry about what anyone thinks and you’re totally allowed to wear sweat pants and slippers all fucking day if that’s what you want. **
I won’t judge.
What did I actually do when I finally woke up?
I went shopping.
Hear me out: for 16 years, the Baby Cat loved what I loved, attacked what annoyed or hurt me, and wouldn’t let me walk from here to there without scouting ahead for danger. Some people would probably have called him my emotional support animal, though he was never trained to do any damned thing… all I knew was that without him I was going to become someone too mean to love. With no idea how to fix myself, it suddenly occurred to me that what I really needed was someone who was also having a very bad day. Maybe even a bad week? Sure, Husband and Offspring will probably tell you they’re feeling some feels right now, but they’ve got nothing on the gaping void where my soul used to be so let’s ignore them for the moment.
It took me only a few minutes to find what I was looking for and approach Husband with it.
To his credit, he didn’t argue. He stalled a bit, and tried to offer an alternative—to my credit, I didn’t bite his nose right off his stupid face at any point—then he put his goddamned shoes on and we went.
Yes, I bought a miniature lion. Turns out, they had one at the Humane Society—go figure! I would have preferred to go elsewhere (for reasons I will not discuss here, so let’s just agree to disagree) but this one time I needed a cat today and that’s what they do there. Also, we had to change his name because the name he came with was stupid. He doesn’t care, because he only had that name for 3 months—the people who had him before gave him up because he kept getting outside.
I wasn’t sure, based only on the picture and their description of his personality, but when I picked him up something felt really right. Then I quietly asked him, “They abandoned you, huh?” He sort of melted against me and tucked his head under my chin. We leaned on each other in shared pain for a moment before I whispered, “Yeah… sucks, right?” I looked up at Husband with dry, hot eyes and saw him smiling through tears. He knew this was our cat, and that Ham and I needed each other.
* They paid the exorbitant vet bill. I think they also did something with his remains, but Husband is forbidden from discussing this with me on pain of me losing my shit again.
** Also, if you’re ever in the position of feeling like you’re supposed to comfort someone who clearly only wants to scream about how much they hate you… maybe remember this story and do way less talking/texting/calling than I got that day? Seriously, something about me turning my phone off and shouting “GO AWAY!” was apparently code for, “please try harder to tell me about how well you know what I’m going through!”