30 November 2009

The Worst Sunday. Ever.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I figured I had just another day of toddler potty training to look forward to (That story coming soon to a blog post near you!). You know, poop and pee on every surface of the house except the inside of a toilet. The usual. But it ended up so much worse than that.

I've always been a cat lover, but I've never been lucky with cats. My first cat, Pounce, had a heart murmur and at the tender age of 8 we had him put to sleep due to complications from said heart murmur. Sulu, our second cat, died very young at 3 because of a lymphatic system that leaked fluid into his chest cavity. Pirtuk, as you all know, had himself a mental breakdown earlier this year, and decided the best way to deal with toddlers was to poop and pee in our basement. He's now happily living with two retirees in Decatur, Georgia. Andy is the only cat I've ever had that seems to be indestructible. He's never sick, never mean, never hurt anyone, and he's lived to be the ripe old age of 11 1/2 years. So, one out of four. Horrible odds, if you ask me. I should be banned from every adoption facility and cat breeder in the Southeast. Now the odds are even worse.

I gave my mother a cat nearly seven years ago as a Christmas present. Bandit was to keep her company and be her best friend. My mother wasn't dealing very well with the loneliness of widowhood and short of finding her a lonely senior citizen, I got her a four-legged fuzz ball. Mom and Bandit bonded instantly and were two peas in a pod. When Mom moved from West Virginia to Georgia four years ago, Bandit came back to his native state and decided he'd had enough of the solitary, sedentary life. So, he started destroying furniture whenever Mom left him alone to go work or go out with friends. See, Mom found something here in Georgia she never had in West Virginia: a social life. And that made Bandit a bitter cat. A month or so after we found Pirtuk a new home, Bandit came to live with us. He was a social cat who loved the chaos of our house and the never-ending attention from our kids. And we've been happy.

Until yesterday.

I always took pride in how much I paid attention to my pets. I knew when they didn't feel well. I could tell by the tail-angle alone how happy/sad/sick/pissed they were. If I didn't see the cat during the day, I went in search, sussing out every hiding spot to make sure said cat was just sleeping and not sick. Now? I barely have time to take care of myself much less my pets. They get fed and watered every day and I go "treasure hunting" in the litter box. But that's about it. My day is full of kids and the mundane tasks of a SAHM and housewife. I didn't see the warning signs that Bandit was sick until it was too late. Mom rushed him to the vet yesterday and what I thought may be a simple urinary tract infection became renal failure and a last good-bye.

I once posted about how I was dreading the talk with the kids. Not the sex talk, the death talk. Having to explain to my children that yes, people they love are going to die, that I am going to die, that they will die, and there's nothing we can do about it, is not a topic of conversation I've been looking forward to. At all. And I wasn't expecting to have that talk yesterday. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, you should always be honest when explaining what happened to your pet, don't use euphemisms, don't lie, and don't be vague. They may not get it, but you as the adult need to be honest.

So I sat there, with my 2-year-old's arms around my neck and my twin 4-year-olds watching the tears streaming down my cheeks, and I told them that Bandit is gone, that he's never coming home, that he can no longer see, or hear, or move, that this is permanent, forever, and that we love him and will miss him and that they can talk about him whenever they want. My heart broke as I remembered just one hour before holding my Mom while she held and cried over her cat, her best friend, the companion who gave her joy after Dad's death. I remembered that I signed the paper that ended Bandit's life, and I felt so very guilty for not paying more attention to him, making sure he wasn't sick, looking at his tail, his eyes, his fur.

I hate that I'm a person who can't keep track of everything, all the time. And I sit here and woulda-coulda-shoulda myself some more.

So, they'll ask. Miss-Miss will probably run downstairs in the morning, expecting to feed Bandit some treats and realize he's not there. J-man will ask where Bandit is. And Bubba will point out his toys or his bed. And I will have to explain again where he is and where he isn't. And I will cry some more. And I'll hate every second of not lying to my children. Of feeling guilty for not being more observant.

Because all I want to tell them is that we'll all live happily ever after. I just want to lie like a rug.


jayna said...

Awww, I'm so sorry! Loosing a pet is so hard, and ten times worse when there are kids involved. Don't beat yourself up with the woulda shoulda's.

Many hugs, across the miles.

Avitable said...

I'm so sorry, Heather. Kitty heaven is a real place.

HEATHER said...

Dear one please don't beat yourself up. Cats get sick very quickly. We've lost three pets this year and it sucks.

Halala mama said...

I'm so sorry...that makes for such a rotten weekend. I had the same thing happen to a cat a few years ago, and really he didn't show any signs until it was too late. I just found him very sick one afternoon. Your sweet Bandit may not have given you enough warning either. Losing a pet is so difficult. They really are one of your family. Hope you feel better soon.

Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

SO sorry. It really sucks to lose a pet. For what it's worth, I think kids handle death much better than we do.

Geekgrl64 said...

Oh Heather, I am so sorry for your loss. Don't beat yourself up about it, like others have said sometimes they show no signs and then its too late.

Unknown said...

Pets are as much a part of family as the people that they support. And it sucks when one goes to the great scratching post in the sky. However, like you said, it's a destination we all wind up at, one way or t'other, and unfortunately, it's often the first exposure little kids have to death. And it sucks. And I'm sorry you've had to deal with this. Pets should live forever.

Patois42 said...

Mostly, I'm sorry that you're beating yourself up so much. I'm with Heather: sometimes, they go so quickly there aren't warning signs. I also think it's true about kids coping with death more easily. Here's hoping that's true for yours.

Audubon Ron said...

Sorry. I lost ten cats over a life time. From coyotes to being run over by the neighbor. It never is easy. Mostly to renal failure and watching them in the meat loaf position is the sign. But, I continue to head for the shelter and adopt one and hang because that’s what I need to do. We actually pray everyday that our pets are happy in heaven and we’ll be together again some day. Again, sorry, and it isn’t your fault.

MrsRobbieD said...

I feel your pain.
Kids do deal with it a little better than adults. Its suprising. I don't lie to my kids about pet deaths either, just keep communication open though it hurts like hell.

Gypsy said...

I'm so sorry, hun. They're family, and losing them is so tough. Hugs to you and yours.

Megan said...

I'm so sorry. Please don't beat yourself up. Had you noticed earlier there's no guarantee things wouldn't have ended the same way.

Michael from dadcation.com said...

How sad...this is why I'm glad my dog Winnie is never going to die.

Merrily Down the Stream said...

That is a bad Sunday. Hugs to you and those little ones. Losing a pet is so DANG hard.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Jayna - Thanks, hon. It is hard.

Avitable - It is, and I know he's up there with Pounce and Sulu, whooping it up.

Other Heather - Oh, ish. THREE?? I would be in a padded cell by now.

Halala Mama - Thanks, darlin'. I had no idea that it could be so quick.

MommyCosm - They do. They live in the moment and I think that's what helps them cope.

Geekgrl64 - Thanks, darlin'.

LceeL - I remember when my mother's cat died. That was my first death and I was 12. It was horrible. I cried for days. I mean, I don't want my kids to be as anxiety-ridden about death as I am, but I still didn't want to have the talk yet. *Sigh*

Patois - So far, they're doing great. Their Montessori teacher had some good ideas and I'm enacting them.

Audubon Ron - Yeah. I put a moratorium on pet adoption last night, but I may rescind it. We'll see. Right now, I'm just too raw.

MrsRobbieD - You're so right about keeping the communication open and being honest.

Gypsy - Thanks, hon.

Finn - I'm working on the self-beating. Thanks, darlin'.

Muskrat - Is Winnie a vampire dog? Sorry. Had to ask.

Merrily - Thanks dear.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Sometimes we feel our best isn't good enough and no one can tell us otherwise. You did exactly right telling the kids the truth, and they will be better for it. My mom's cat died a year and a half ago and LittleBird still talks about him and cries at night. She even draws pictures of him. I think it helps her to talk about it, and we tell her it is always okay to feel sad. Allow yourself to feel sad, Heather. Your kids know you better than you know yourself.

Mik said...

Yeah losing pets suck, explaining it to the kids is hard.

As for potty training, yeah me, I got grown up step children who were well past that stage, although someone has bad aim in the pee department! I am forever cleaning the toilet seat.

sybil law said...

I am so, so sorry. I understand, too, the want and absolute wish to lie -and be right!!
But think you handled it well. I did pretty much the same with my daughter, and she handled it like a champ.

Irrational Dad said...

I tried typing this damn comment 3 times and failed finding the words. Losing a pet is devastating. I'm sorry for your loss.

Expat No. 3699 said...

I'm so sorry and be kind to yourself. You're a good mom and telling them the truth was the right thing to do.

hello haha narf said...

so much love to you. i hate that we have to deal with such losses.

A Free Man said...

Ah, sorry man. It's a bad week for pets. We went with the 'gone to live on a farm' story for various reasons.

marqthompson said...
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