samedi, juillet 12, 2014

The frayed tie that binds

I put down the phone on the table.

Then the tears begin to fall.

I've held them in over the past few days.

Nothing epic has happened.  There is no HBO-sized tragedy.

It is a series of moments, over the past few days, that has stretched me to almost a breaking point.

Wednesday night one of our cats, a black and white fireball called Inky, started to cough.

"Do you think there's something wrong with Inky?" I asked my son.

"No" he said, wandering from the kitchen to the living room couch, where he was watching episode #934 of "The Wire."

The next day, instead of switching his tail at a chipmunk on the deck, or waiting for me to anoint his body with water from the hose in the downstairs tub, Inky lay heavy-lidded on the bed.

When I called his name, he stared listlessly at me.

That afternoon I took him to the vet.  Cats don't normally like cars - and they know how to let you know that. Often.

 Dr. Levin wasn't sure what the diagnosis was, bur gave him an intravenous antibiotic, fluids and "kitty tylenol" ( the real stuff is toxic for cats, by the way), and sent me home with instructions: call if he isn't getting better.

I came home to an empty house (save for our other cat, a sweet and shy blind orange short-hair), and fell asleep on the couch.  When I awoke, Inky was snuggled against me, white paws resting on my arms.

Friday he seemed a little less lethargic, but still not his usual 'living large' feline self.

Give it another day, the vet advised.

Friday night, one side of his face was swollen.

Should I go to the animal hospital? Should I wait until morning?  I dithered.  For a few years, I have avoided yearly check ups because it's so tough to get this guy into a cat carrier.

We've lived alongside cats for years.  But like England and the U.S., Inky and I have a "special relationship."  By far the brightest of the felines who have peopled our houses, he is a challenging, energetic, and affectionate household companion - it's hard  not to be exasperated by his chutzpah, even harder not to love him without reserve.

The kid's dad had asked me how Inky was doing the day before, and he's not even an animal lover...but no word from my son (our daughter was away, and didn't know he was sick).


Finally, around ten last night, I picked up the phone and called my son at his dad's house, confessing my confusion and exhaustion.

Do you want me to come up there? he asked me.

I could use your help tomorrow, I said.  But you might be busy tomorrow morning. Yes, I am, he said.

Nothing more.

I'll let you know if I have to put Inky down, I told him, and said goodbye.


I managed.  Crammed the cat into his carrier, discussed possibilities with the vet,  get instructions for medications I'm not sure I can administer, then drove home with Inky's condition still ambiguous.


Then the phone rang.

Was i free to bring his sneakers down to his father's house today? He needs to take them to Philadelphia, where he will be working with severely disadvantaged kids this week on a team from our church.

Yes, I said.

After all, what else was there to say?

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