Unlike many, I haven't found myself afire with hatred of the year 2016. My benchmark for feelings about years was 2006; both the happiest and unhappiest events of my life occurred then: the marriage of my son to a wonderful woman whom I consider my daughter, then the death of my husband a few months later. Neither of which had anything to do with the numerals we assign to a twelve-month period of time.
Nonetheless it hasn't been the greatest of years here. I've been fighting depression - real depression - for the first time in my life, since way back last winter. It robbed me of my interest in things I'd loved (knitting, walking, cooking, baking, EATING) and sat on me like a goddamned satanic elephant throughout the summer and fall. I did get a prescription - which didn't work - and a different one which *may* be working but it also is having some side effects I could do without (that isn't an ironic understatement, they really are minor, though annoying). And of course, losing my dear cat Adams all of a sudden in October didn't help matters, either. But at least in the past couple of weeks the elephant seems to have lost some weight and I've ben getting back into caring for my house (a bit) and getting caught up with household things I've let go completely. I mean, last evening I put away six baskets of clean clothes, and there are six more waiting in the laundry room to be washed, dried and put away.
The lack of appetite has had something of a silver lining, leading me to about a ten - to - fifteen-pound weight loss. It's not a method I would recommend AT ALL. But it does mean I've got more energy and I don't wipe out quite so fast.
But ALL of this could just as easily have happened any other year. I grieve for all the wonderful talents we as a society have lost this year, and for the world because the Orange Clown takes the Presidency next month. But all is not despair. Lots of people are banding together to challenge whatever awful offal he sends down the pipe at us.
A lot of people are looking around at their neighbors and thinking we could maybe be more friendly and caring toward each other, and be mindful wherever we are of how others are being treated - and to step up and do something about it, in whatever way seems right to us at the time. And artists will keep doing their work, and doctors and nurses will keep doing their work, and people will go on being kind and helpful to each other (I believe that's a huge majority of people - the nasty ones get all the headlines) and we will get through this.
So I think 2016 contains exactly the same weird mixture of stuff any year has. And 2017 will, too, but a LOT of people have been awakened to the fact that we need each other. And that cannot be a bad thing, can it?
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
On October 11, my two cats and I were enjoying a nice, quiet afternoon in the front room reading (me) and snoozing (them). Adams was on the couch. Suddenly he started a sneezing barrage. It woke him up. He stood up looking grumpy, and I said, "Gesundheit!" and he turned his sweet face to me, all bright-eyed and interested, and I know he was thinking, "She's talking to me! Ima gonna go get some pettins!" I said, "God bless you!" (in case he didn't understand German).
And he turned around and jumped down off the couch, now hidden behind the lounger. He started making noises like he was going to puke (he did that several times a week) so I grabbed a sheet of newspaper and leapt over there to try to catch it - but he wasn't vomiting, he was seizing. In the one second it took for me to get to him, I could see by his eyes that he wasn't there any more, even though his body was still seizing. I ruffled his fur and spoke to him - I don't remember what I said - then raced upstairs to get my shoes and back down again - and in those 5 seconds (I was *really* moving), he had gone for good.
One second, peacefully, happily sleeping in one of his favorite spots. 5 seconds later, gone. Not really knowing what I was doing, I called his vet. She came right on line, and then I realized there was nothing she could do. I apologized but she kept me on the line for several minutes, sympathizing and oh, just being so kind. She had pulled up his records, and said the last time he was there, in July, for his lion cut, he was in perfect health. They did blood screens for him every time he got shaved, because they had to sedate him else he wouldn't tolerate the process. And that day when I picked him up, the other vet who handed him over to me exclaimed about what good shape his teeth were in: "He's got the teeth of a two-year-old cat!" So on October 11, the vet told me it was most likely a stroke that killed him. She assured me emphatically that they could tell he was well-cared-for.
I live alone (except for my cats)(er, now, cat) and I held my sweet Adams in my arms and just howled. I cried until I couldn't anymore. For the next week I went around in a daze, crying when I saw his kibbles bowl, a patch of his fur, when I cleaned the litter boxes. I kept expecting him to be coming around the corner, talking to me. Whenever I was doing stuff in the kitchen, he would get up on top of the microwave on its rolling cart, and do a little Adams dance with his front feet, and talk to me demanding pettins. And he always got them, he was so damn cute I couldn't resist. In the couple of months before he died, I was *finally* getting to where he'd allow me to brush him all over - for a few strokes. He loved me brushing his cheeks, but it took a long time for him to realize the all-over brushing felt pretty good, too. (His sister gets brushed every morning and loved it from the start.) I called him my Eeyore cat, because when O'Keefe would barge in between us, jealous of my petting him, he'd meander off to the other side of the room and sit there, his head down, looking dejected (I always made it up to him). He was timid, and quiet, and so loving.
On the night in early 2014 when I had an infection go septic, the only image I remember of the moments the EMs were in the house bundling me up to go into the ambulance, was Adams' worried little face, looking at me between their legs, trying to get to me (my dear friend who'd come when I called her, mostly delirious. kept having to pull him out of the way, she says). That image, and the last, bright, happy look just before he jumped down off the couch, will stay with me until I die.
I can still feel his fur, the muscles in his back, the delicate bones in his front legs, his whiskers tickling when he rubbed his face on mine, his warmth. It still doesn't seem quite real. But, he's gone. Another loving little soul tucked deep in my heart that I will treasure there forever.
ETA: Well, really to subtract the "last month" since I only just realized that we're already in December, so October is not last month. - T.