Monday, April 17, 2006
I am really happy that I was so nice to her the day she died. Of course I had no idea that it would be the day she died, I just get to know that in hindsight. Other days I have not been so nice – “Jesus, Chloe“ Hush! Who else do you think I am opening this can for?? or “don’t rub up against me -“ you’ll get hair all over my black pants!” But this morning I chatted with her as I got dressed and let her run in front of me down the stairs instead of trying to beat her so she wouldn’t trip me. In the kitchen, I cleaned out both her food and water bowls, which don’t necessarily need to be done very often since she is extremely good at licking them spotlessly clean. And, when I left and made sure she was still in the kitchen as I closed the door and not sneaking a nap on our new blue sofa, her last imprint of me was that I was nice to her.
Chloe died while we were having her groomed. We’d never had her groomed before, but she’s been on medication that has dried out her skin and made her fur all icky and flaky. Annie moved home from California with her cats and we were preparing Chloe to meet them. They had been sniffing at each other for a week behind a closed door. We read that it was the best way to introduce cats to each other. Occasionally they caught the random glimpse through a quickly opened and closed door, but after a week, it was time to arrange the meeting. So it was off to the groomers for Chloe’s first bath. But she didn’t come home from the groomer – not inside anyway. And Bella and Cali, who are now allowed out of their room, walk around with what looks like a curious expression on their faces as if to say, “wait a minute…we know we smelled her. Where is she?” Chloe’s loss is experienced on many levels by cats and humans alike.
Chloe, who my mom always called “Cleo”, came to us either 11 or 12 years ago, no one can remember which. She came to live with us with her brother Joey, (get it? Joey and Chloe?) and it was soon after I had become a single parent so it was one of my first Single Parent decisions of some significance. Annie had already picked out Chloe weeks earlier when she was born, but when we went to pick her up, there was some fretting about whether she would be okay alone, if she’d be lonely and would it be better with 2 kittens rather than just the one, tiny one. Just about then, Christopher walked up to me with Joey in his arms and said, “could I get a kitten, too?” And we became a family of five.
We lost Joey after about 5 years. He died practically the first day he was let out of the house. He ran across the road to play in the field and on the way back got hit by a car. After that, Chloe, who had been the original scaredy cat, started becoming downright friendly. She had never purred before, or at least never hung around us long enough so that we could hear her. One night after Joey died; she came into the den where we were watching TV. Suddenly we heard a strange noise, like the refrigerator exploding or the furnace going on the fritz. We muted the TV and turned toward the door – near where Chloe was sitting, looking at us. It dawned on us that the noise was coming from her – she was purring! We decided that she was channeling Joey and soon, she took on some of his other traits, too. Joining Annie or Christopher in their beds at night or keeping us company in the den if we were watching TV. And in the new house, coming outside on the porch and hanging around, never going far, mostly staying on the porch or just below and just being with us. She had turned into this great cat. Quiet, friendly, funny and smart. She would eat her food in the morning with her paw. She chewed the ribbons off of our birthday and Christmas packages and ran to the door to greet us when we got home. Even after she got sick and had to take medicine, and it made her fat and uncoordinated she mostly just liked hanging out with us, sitting in front of the fire and sleeping.
When you lose a pet it’s hard. It’s not as huge as losing a human loved one because that can be all encompassing. This loss feels just as deep, but like it’s inside rather than outside. My husband said that maybe it means that I am more able to contain it, and I guess that sounds right. But I still miss her. Her presence was a constant and although I didn’t anthropomorphize her, I counted on her being there and she was kind of like – a friend.
After I met Annie at the groomer we took Chloe to the vet – just in case. But they made the final diagnosis and gave me the option of paying $50 to bury her with other pets, $75 of having her cremated and buried with other pet ashes or $150 to have her cremated and returned to me in a little cat ashes urn or I could take her home for nothing. So we brought her back home, still wrapped in the groomer’s fluffy blue towel. We picked out a place in the back yard, found a sturdy wooden box and placed Chloe in the ground with some treats, her pillow and a little Christmas ribbon. I think it will be better for her, too, right in the back yard, just hanging out with us.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Spring fever n.
A feeling of languor or yearning brought on by the coming of spring.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Answers.com 02 Apr. 2006. http://www.answers.com/topic/spring-fever
(Notice I am properly citing my source).
If you’ve been anywhere around me in the last 2 days, you’ve already heard this story…
I was in an elementary school on Friday doing lessons with teachers on integrating technology into the curriculum. This is what I do for a living. And by the way, apparently I’ll be out of a job come December, because that’s when the No Child Left Behind Act mandates that technology will be fully integrated into curriculums all across the country. I kid you not. We’ll be done in time for Christmas. But that is a whole other issue…back to my story.
Not only was it an elementary school, but it is a K-3 school, meaning that the highest grade level in the building is the third grade. So, the third graders are the top of the heap and that is a heady position in any school. The top of the heap wears it well and it’s a tangible thing for both the students and anyone who walks into the building. One of my classes on this early, sunny spring Friday was a third grade class and we were exploring a program that some of them know and some of them don’t, but all in all – it’s a pretty fun way to “learn”. In all the years that I was a computer lab teacher, I knew I had the best job. Even the worst behavior kids were good in computer lab. Now that my job is focused on teacher professional development, I miss being with the kids, so I really enjoy these opportunities. So, there we all were, the kids, me and their teacher playing around with a social studies program and having a good time. This school was one I’d been to several times, so some of the kids remember me from previous visits and a couple of the girls hugged me upon their arrival. That always makes me feel good. The kids were a little itchy, but not bad. Given that it was the first mild day in about … oh … 5 months we were all a little itchy. We all wanted to be outside. There was no snow on the ground anywhere in sight. And it was Friday, too. All the ingredients for a good story to soon transpire.
For about 30 minutes I walked around the room, me showing the kids some things and the kids showing me some things. Finally, it was time to go. As much as the kids wanted to get to recess – or better – home, they all “ohhhhhh-ed” at the end. It took a few minutes, but the teacher got them all lined up and ready to go – boys on one side, girls on the other. Still itchy, but not bad considering. Finally, they were hushed for the last time and moved out into the hallway. As the last boy – a boy’s boy with brown spiky hair and dungarees – passed by, he hung back and whispered to me, “I like your skirt”, smiled, and disappeared out the door. Spring Fever-how adorable.
I stood speechless as my heart melted into a puddle in my chest. I went to the door and looked out at the line moving out of sight and wanted to go run and hug that little boy and tell him how adorable he was. But I didn’t. Instead I went immediately into the office and found Louise, the office manager who booked my schedule when I came to the school. Her last email to me gave me information about which teachers I would be working with, etc, and ended with â€“ â€œI think weâ€™re finally getting a Spring! I canâ€™t wait to get outside and work in my yard!â€ She and I have been commiserating back and forth over the lack of nice weather and sharing tips on how to enjoy the bad weather. Mostly good books, comfies and a fire in the fireplace.
â€œLet me tell you a story in honor of your spring feverâ€ I said to her and related my story. She articulated the obligatory, â€œawwwwwwâ€¦..â€ and said that kids could be so cute. After Louise, I told every other teacher who came in the room, the principal and the school secretary. Then, since I had to go back to the office afterwards, I told my boss, her assistant, the two assistants upstairs, the night custodian and anyone else within hearing distance. We all agreed how adorable, precious, endearing, cute, delightful and charming kids could be. My heart was still a little puddle and I had a smile on my face that is still lingering after all these days. The weather stayed mild and the sun stayed visible for most of the weekend and I felt as good and as energetic as I have in a long time. All because this one little boy had a case of spring fever. At least, thatâ€™s how I interpreted it. And he gave it to me, and then I passed it on to others. Later, I wondered that if it had been the dead of winter and snowy and dark and blistering cold, would that little boy have liked my skirt? Would he have said as much? And would I have thought it was the cutest thing this side of newborn puppies? Who knows? All I know is that I think my toes have finally warmed up and I am looking forward to raking up my yard and cleaning out my garden. If this is Spring Fever â€“ keep me away from the vaccine.
Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy. – Bertrand Russell