Sometimes life happens.
Sometimes you think after two weird cancers in a row that you’re safe for a while, and then all of a sudden a little cold becomes asthma that actually turns out to be another cancer. And then sometimes that makes all your guards come down, and you start feeling really emotional and vulnerable and you think, “I really need a break from this.”
And then sometimes when that happens you’re on Facebook and a friend has just “liked” Animal Rescue League of Iowa, and you wonder what in the world that’s about, and sometimes that means you end up surfing a really well-designed website full of over a hundred of the cutest and most perfect cats available for adoption. And that makes you happy, finally, for a full half hour, so you show your daughter so she can be happy to, and you lose an hour and a half together looking at all the animals on the laptop.
Sometimes it just so happens that the next day you already plan to be going just a few miles from that place, so you say, “How about we stop and just look at the kitties for a while tomorrow?” And your daughter says YES, because she’s already fixated on one cat just from the site. Then sometimes when you go there the next day and go into a hug room with the cat, and even though you can’t tell right away, when later you’re looking at another cat all of a sudden your daughter starts crying, and you ask why and it’s because she misses the kitten.
So you ask the shelter about putting a hold on the cat, and you explain your situation, but sometimes they can’t do that, hold for a week, because they’re so slammed with cats they’re stuffing them in offices and having cat fire sales to lower the body count, so they can’t do that. Have to send them as they go. And of course the child is now more upset, because you’ve explained you can’t get a cat when you have one dying in the house, and she knows that but she’s so sad, and you know a good chunk of this sadness is displacement because she’s put all her stored-up sorrow over three damn dead cats in six months into this new kitten, thinking if she just had this one kitten she could be happy again. And we’ve already established that you’re emotionally wrecked too.
Which means sometimes, this time, you tell your daughter, “Look, we could do this, and I’d back you, but you’d have to keep the cat in your room because she can’t come out until Bingley is gone, and really, she’s so little she should just have the run of one room for a while anyway. And there’s this huge problem of your room being so bad even you say it looks like an episode of Hoarders.” When she swears she’ll clean it, you point out she’s failed for a year, but you also remember how the promise of a Barbie Princess Castle got her to toilet train in three days when nothing else would, so you say, “Your dad MIGHT let you if you clean your room, but you would have to work. I’ll help, as in tell you what would be best to do next and I’ll hold the trash bag, but you have to do the work.”
She agrees, so you get them to agree to a 24 hour hold based on a special circumstance, because three cancers has to be good for something, right? Except, sometimes…
Sometimes there is another cat. Sometimes there’s a cat that you think is adorable, and she’s another girl, Glenda, but you’re of course going to call her Glinda. Because she’s a snuggler and she’s social without being, well, Walter, and Walter needs someone to snuggle, and really, you need someone too. Plus, she’s a girl, and you miss having a girl. And anyway, she’s on the fire sale list, and adopting her plus the other means you’re going to get both cats for under a hundred bucks when usually they’re $110 each or two for $125. And anyway, the child has agreed both cats can live in her room for a while, and really, you know that even though Bingley has stopped coughing and evened out, he’s still getting weaker and sicker every day, and really you’re likely taking him in Tuesday.
And there’s still no guarantee this room is getting cleaned.
Except sometimes your daughter wants something so badly she turns her stubbornness in the other direction and cleans the cesspit of a room in two hours. Six and a half trash bags full of garbage and three full of Goodwill/giveaways, and she’s even made a spot for the litter and reaffirmed she will scoop litter and feed the cat and do everything necessary to take care of the cats. She gets it all done before her dad comes home from work and nervously prepares her speech to her father.
And sometimes this works. You weren’t entirely sure, but when you saw the room get cleaned you figured she had as good a hand of poker as she was going to get, though the polite and demure delivery of her request with no begging was a nice touch. You helped her with one last ace in the pot, suggesting to her father he make a requirement that she helps him scoop all the litter from now on, not just the stuff in her room, and you know you have him then, because he hates how you can’t bend over anymore to do it so it’s his job alone. So you discuss it with him, and hash out the money and the procedure and apologize that he wasn’t there for this, that you never meant it to happen, it just sort of did, that you were willing to wait and take chances and adopt whatever cat was best when we were ready, but the child was ready now. And you have known all along he would say yes, but you let him get there on his own.
And so sometimes the same day you’re picking up subcu fluids, prescription food, and a tranquilizer as you make a probable euthanasia appointment for one cat, you’re picking up crinkly and glittery balls for the soon-to-be occupants of the empty carriers in your backseat. Sometimes when you’re stopping at Petsmart to find soft, enticing, protein-rich foods your sick cat might be tempted to try, you’re also picking up a new scratching post and pet bed and indulging on some cute ceramic bowls on clearance that say “meow” on the inside. And glittery collars, and you’re making them ID tags in the store and smiling as your daughter clutches them tight in her hand, more excited to pick up the cats than she is for Christmas morning.
Sometimes you go to pick up the new cats, though, and when they do the final check-ups, Daisy is okay but Glenda/Glinda has a temperature and can’t go home with you that day. Which is kind of a relief, because you really do have your hands full with the sick one, and your child really just wants to bond with the kitten, but it’s sad because this cat was for you. You’re glad at least it was her and not the kitten, but you’re a bit sad. And it’s nice when you tell your husband, selling it as a perk, he’s sad too because he’d been wanting to meet her. But they keep her carrier and put her collar on her right away, and they’ll call you the next week to let you know how she’s doing.
So sometimes you go home with one cat when you thought you were taking two. Sometimes you think you have had enough cancer and you find out you don’t get to decide when “enough” is and that you have to have it whenever it shows up, period. Sometimes you coo over a kitten and miss your new cat and worry about if she’ll be okay to come home even as you spoon-feed your current baby yogurt because he’s still Bingley, after all. And sometimes your very sick baby gets up and comes into the kitchen when you open a can of food for him, making your heart soar and sending you into fevered hope that maybe the Tuesday appointment can be for the kitten and Thursday or even later can be for the nasty part. And then you see that he can only stand to eat a tablespoon or so of food when normally he wolfs down half a can or better, and you know that probably Tuesday is going to stand.
Sometimes life happens. Sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down, and sometimes it’s just round and round and round.
Here’s to life.