That siren sound.

i hate this nasty new disease
this virus that imperils each breath 
that has me reading portents in a sneeze,
and peering round corners looking for death. 
did you know sirens have a dying sound
a sort of fucked up banshee wail? 
it’s the sound of a life winding down
as the body of a neighbor begins to fail. 
every day we hear the lazy cry 
as the ambulance crawls to a stop 
at door of another family nearby
waiting for the final shoe to drop. 
you feel a shameful creeping disbelief
as the stretcher moves up another’s walk 
and your shoulders sag in relief
when the siren moves on up the block. 

———————

M. Morehead  – 4/26/2020 

A kitty like me…

So a few weeks ago we adopted two senior kitties with medical problems to help us mourn the loss of my familiar, Hazel.
One of these kitties, Bootsie O’Sullivan, Snuggle Enforcer, is gregarious, vocal, and social. She demands all the pets, all the time, from all the people.

The other kitty is Dame Marble of Purrcatua, First of Her Name, Seeker of Softness, Master of Westerly facing windows. She is sicker than Bootsie. She is shy and retiring, doesn’t want to snuggle, and recently got very ill, with a high fever, lack of appetite, and lethargy.

After taking her in we are now giving her five pills morning and night and eye drops. She takes her pills like a long time spoonie, in a resigned way that almost breaks my heart. She doesn’t fight the eye drops either. It is clear this is a cat who has seen her fair share of vets. I was watching her try to find a comfortable place to lie down today when it hit me.

She is a Spoonie!

This cat who so touched our hearts with her sad story was unwanted because she is sick and broken and not like other kitties. The sick and broken within me recognized the sick and broken within her and my heart screamed “you are still worth loving!”

So I am spending my self-isolation in the company of an animal who was too much an invalid to be adopted, too broken to be given a home, by anyone other than us — a family of sick and broken people who understands what it’s like not to fit with society’s idea of valid.

For Hazel…

In darkness under the bridge we sit,
your ashes secured in a wooden chest.
The tiny weight of you reduced further still
by the trappings of your final rest.

The loss of you pours from me in salty waves,
I’m nigh drowning in the undertow.
While alive your heart was joined with mine
with you dead, mine doesn’t know where to go.

Any dream I had of seeing you again
vanished with the puff of your last breath,
for what chance does hope really have
when faced with the harsh reality of death?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
M.Morehead
3.12.2020

Look past the kittens…

A few weeks back my family lost our precious Hazel kitty, the fluff of my life. The pain of that loss is still crushing but her absence in the house was impossible to handle. So we went out and adopted two cats. This is their story.

My son and I were looking at the profiles of several cats at the Denver Dumb Friends League when we came across one for an older cat who had lived well with dogs, children, and other cats. She was described as being very friendly and cuddly. She was also described as having stage two kidney disease. We looked at each other and said, “That is our cat.”

We gathered up my daughter and husband and drove down there to see Bootsie, the cat in question.

When we arrived and explained who we wanted to see the staff arranged a room for us and suggested we also look at another kitty known for being good with dogs, Marble. She had been in the shelter for 6 months because she has hyperthyroid issues and needs medication twice a day. She is 10 years old. We agreed to see her so she could have some petting time but we were pretty set on Bootsie. We knew she had stage two kidney failure but Hazel had kidney issues so we were familiar with the drill and felt confident we could provide for Bootsie without changing our routine much.

We went in to meet Bootsie and she came to each of us (four of us) one at a time and rubbed her head against our hands. She was funny, talkative, and instantly friendly with everyone.

Bootsie O’Sullivan – Snuggle Enforcer

We went into the room with Marble and she was present. She was a beautiful kitty but a little shy. She had been in the shelter for 6 months so who knows how much shyness was a result of that. We left Dan in there with her for a few minutes while I went to talk to the vet about Bootsie’s health. When I came back in my husband told me he liked this little kitty. He has a real thing for the “undercat” as it were.

Dame Marble of Purrcatua, First of Her Name, Seeker of Softness, Master of Westerly and Southerly Windows. a.k.a. “The Undercat”

We took them both home.

Bootsie rules the first floor of the house. She sleeps curled up in a planter in the sun sometimes, she cuddles on the arms of the couch and in laps, on the backs of furniture and on chairs. She wants to be a part of all the doings in the house and adores being petted. She is a joyful addition to the household. Her new full name is Bootsie O’Sullivan, Snuggle Enforcer.

Marble now rules my bedroom. She is unaffected by the presence of our dog and isn’t fond of the other cats yet. She spends her days in one of two windowsills in the sun or on our bed. She plays with toys, takes her pills easily, and sits near us when she wants affection. She enjoys head scritches and has a delicate purr. She is an elegant cat. Her full name is Dame Marble of Purrcatua, First of Her Name, Seeker of Softness, Master of Westerly and Southerly Windows.

These ladies have huge hearts and personalities. They know how to use their catboxes. They are used to the medical routines they developed. They grow more and more loving the longer they stay in our home. They are thankful for attention and love, soft places, open windows, and sunshine.

Our lives are better because we adopted two older cats with medical issues. They need a little extra care but give so much in return for it.

If you are considering adopting a cat please consider walking past the kittens to the older kitties. They have so much love to give you.

While it’s true that you may have less time with a kitty who is a little older you will have a better idea of the kind of animal you are bringing home. What you see is what you get with an older cat and what you get is really, truly, amazing.

Weight…

There’s a certain heaviness to chronic pain. It’s an ephemeral heaviness, a constriction of muscles a healthy person might get in a P90X class or carrying their neighbor’s couch into the house for them.

The neck muscles are tight, the shoulders are tense, the back aches, all from a mixture of “guarding” – the act of holding your body in a particular way to avoid or minimize pain – or a lack of activity from feeling to ill to do much.

Over time it becomes a literal weight. You wake up in the morning and in order to get up out of bed you have to consciously choose to pick that weight up and carry it again. You can feel the lovely release of sleep slip away and the various and sundry physical alerts begin to wake up in your body.

Hey there, your head really hurts today. Maybe the weather is kicking up.

Hi, jaw here, just wanted you to know that we’ve got some extra tension from that really great conversation you had last night so you’ll see some extra stabby moments from us today.

Um… yeah, it’s your back. You did something, or maybe you didn’t -hell I just work here- but whatever the reason you will be having some difficulty moving around today. I’m going on break.

You’ll get up and agree to carry these issues again because the other option is don’t get up. An option I hear some people choose but I personally believe all us spoonies choose to get up more than we choose to give up. So you move on with your day, dressing, maybe showering, eating, and then you will have other weights fall on you.

Joints here, did you know you can sprain your wrist picking up a box of cereal in the “wrong” way? No. Well now you do.

As you move through your day you will feel heavier and heavier until at last you are able to place the nearly overwhelming weight of your maladies into bed for a few hours of rest. If you can rest. If not, maybe a few hours of a good book or movie.

Sometimes the weight is harder to carry than others. Right now, for me, with the recent death of my wonderful and amazing support cat, I am really struggling to lift it all. I haven’t lifted a paint brush since she died. I feel all the pain more intensely without her here to help. My mind races with anxiety and possibility and doubt and fear. There is no furry face in my face forcing a distraction.

Without her support I find myself at sea, having to find new ways to carry the weight with me throughout each day.

In the meantime each little addition seems more personal, more targeted to make my day difficult instead of just something I have to move through.

My patience is frayed, I am restless and uncertain, and my body continues to pile it on, day after day, smothering me in the weight of a disease I cannot control.

So I shared some of it with you in the hopes the load lightens a little. Thank you for helping me carry it.

Whimsy and Wonder

Original artwork by Misty Morehead

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