Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gratitude through the yucky parts

I had said a lil while back on Jennlui's blog that I was going to share this story. So here it is...........
Parker's story.

A few years back, we lived in an apartment about an hour from where we live now. At the time, we were preparing to move. Boxes were like gold to us.

Hubby, T, and I had come home from somewhere. We spotted a bunch of boxes in the apartment complex trash and decided to come back out for them. While we were collecting our prize, a man asked us if we had seen a black kitten. We hadn't, but of course, this peaked our interest. The three of us looked around as the man talked. He explained that someone had told him that the owners moved away and left the cat.

Finally, we found the guy. He was a full grown cat...not the kitten we were expecting. But as sweet as could be. Jet black. I went inside to get him some food and water. T came out, of course to see him. He was very friendly, not at all like an outside cat. We left him to eat.

Back inside, the three of us began to talk. Even then, we couldn't say no. We enticed him inside with more food and put him in our bedroom, away from our other two cats.

His face was scratched in several places, one across his eye. His body was hard, muscular, unlike our flabby tabbies. We sat in the bedroom, getting to know him. T laid on the floor near where he lay, but not close enough for him apparently because he drug himself across the carpet to be right next to her. Awwww! Here's the first picture we took of him 6/1/07. Perfect setting for a 'Halloween Cat', with all my witchy stuff behind him. You can see the scratches on his face here.

We talked over various names and finally decided on PARKER, since we'd found him in a parking lot. :)

I was unsure of him, as I am with any cat from the outside. You never know how they are going to react to being petted or picked up. But this eased very quickly. That night, as I lay in bed, he jumped up next to me and lay down. A moment later, he threw his arms around my thigh and fell fast asleep. Double awwwww!

Hubby and I weren't planning on keeping him, but I also know very well what happens to some cats in places like the SPCA. I called different numbers and emailed several people about options. I came into contact with a woman who referred me to a place called "Forgotten Cats." They fix outside cats and release them so that they can live out their lives, but not make any more babies. We decided to have him fixed and just wait and see what would happen.

I dropped him off in the morning. My husband was going to pick him up. I could tell as soon as hubby came in the door that something was wrong.

Parker tested positive for Feline Leukemia. In humans, this is AIDS.

I was so pissed and so upset. Someone hadn't taken care of this precious life. Not only did they leave him in an apartment complex parking lot, not feed him or love him the way he deserved, but they were so irresponsible that they didn't get him the shots he needed and now he was going to die because of it. He was only a year old.

Our decision was made. We would keep him and love him and take care of him.

Parker loved to play. I mean LOVED. He chased strings and every toy we threw for him. We tired of playing before he ever did. Gosh was he strong. Pure muscle this one! He moved into T's room. She had been wanting a lover cat to snuggle with. Binx and Rowan just weren't the type. But Parker loved it. She'd lay in bed watching tv and he'd curl up in her arms and fall asleep. Triple awwww!

Eventually we introduced him to Rowan and Binx. We were worried for their safety since he was an outside cat and obviously in better shape than they. But he was as gentle with them as he had been with us. He never hissed or growled or hit. They weren't as nice, but accepted his presence (most likely because I'm the one in charge around here and they know it). But there was one day when Parker got up on the couch next to Rowan and laid his head on Rowan's butt. Rowan didn't move and actually fell asleep. Quadruple awwwwww!

It wasn't long before the Leukemia showed its effects. He lost interest in eating. He slept a lot. He had that "I'm sick" look. I prayed. I placed my statue of the Goddess Bast next to his bed. We took him to the vet and got every shot and/or medicine we could. We even tried an experimental drug. Nothing seemed to work for very long. Then it didn't work at all.

On the Monday, we watched and cried, knowing we were going to have to make a hard decision soon. We finally decided that we couldn't watch him suffer. It was unfair to us all. We would have him 'put to sleep' the next day.

That night, hubby and I were restless. We made a bed for Parker in the living room. We 'slept' on the couch with the tv on. The next morning, Parker was up and washing himself. I offered him some food, which he happily ate. I have a video of this. That is a precious piece of technology to me.

Unfortunately, this was but a moment in time, his health deteriorated again. And by the next day, we were as sure, as anyone can be (which is never 100% positive when you're making this kind of decision) that it was time.

We were signing the papers for out new house the next day. We asked the current owners if we could drive up and bury him there that night. They were kind enough to agree.

We took him to the vet. We cried while we waited. People, strangers, came up to us, hugged us, asked us about him, looked at him, said he was precious. They were all very kind. The staff took us to a room. Hubby and I petted Parker and told him we loved him and how sorry we were that thing turned out this way. The doctor came in. She'd been with us through the ordeal. She said we did everything we could, that he was lucky to have us because he would have suffered terribly outside all by himself, and that we were doing the 'right' thing.

He drifted off. His physical form out of my life. It was an exquisite kind of pain. We drove an hour to our new house, crying here and there, with his precious body in a box in the back seat. The whole way, I felt this deep urge to throw my hands up to the sky and call out, "THANK YOU...thank you for this experience, for Parker, for knowing him, for the time we had, for his sweet lovable nature. Thank you that you chose us to care for him, you trusted us, you knew we were the kind of people who would love him, give him everything we could, and let him go when it was time. THANK YOU for the painfull'ness of this fabulous LOVE. Thank you that this happened so that I can feel this confusing, wonderful, painful, absolute gratefulness." I can't explain it any better than that. That feeling continued for many days and weeks after. I remember it being very intense.
When we arrived at what would be our new home, we chose a place just outside the woods and dug in the hard, rocky earth the best that we could. I wrote messages to him on the box. Told him we loved him and placed his body back into Her arms. We drove home and cried some more. We signed the papers for the house the next day.
A few days later, we received a card in the mail from the vet. This is what it says, "In their short lives our pets give us all they can - their friendship, unselfish love, and total loyalty. There comes a time when we must give back to them - their freedom, their peace and their dignity. May you find comfort in knowing that your pet is now at peace." She wrote these words, "I appreciate all that you did for Parker. Sincerely, Dr Jody." Glued inside is also this poem "When a pet dies, that special warm place in our hearts suddenly becomes empty...and, as in all painful events, it will take time to get over the loss...But we realize, as time passes, that animals have a way of teaching us about loving, about loyalty, joy, and friendship...And whatever we've shared in their presence can never really be lost."

We were blessed to have Parker in our lives from June 1 until June 26. A very short time, but hugely important.

The statue of Bast, that sat next to his bed while he was sick, has graced his spot since he 'left'. This summer we painted the rocks around it.

You know, it's funny.....although this happened more than a year ago, it's still very hard to think about this experience and even more difficult to write about. Seriously, I'm bawling like it just happened. I think it always will be one of those wounds in me that may look healed over, but it never really is.

I can say this though: Parker and his journey is one of those bittersweet 'things' that has caused me a ton of pain..............but still, I am ever so glad that it happened to me. I will never forget that moment when he threw his arms around my thigh. It's one of those precious seemingly little things that happen. I think those are the experiences that we take with us to the beyond and others gather around in a large park to listen to our stories. I know they'll be wowed by this one.
What a Great Cat!
Some people think we're crazy for keeping the kittens and for having 10 cats. But Parker's story is one of the reasons they're staying. They deserve a good home and I know we'll give it to them.

~Blessed Be We~
PS: I am currently blessed to have another black cat, Wentz (or Little Man or Puppy or Pwuppy or Pug) who is also a lover. This one throws his arms around my neck and hugs. He came up and hugged me a few minutes ago, when I really needed it. :) Thanks Little Puppy Man!