A long December and there’s reason to believe
maybe this year will be better than the last.
It was a long December.
It was also filled with great memories, smiles and laughter but there were times when reality overwhelmed me.
Like when Alistair was gone and the snow kept coming down and it was so cold Loki chose to piddle inside and Steve, the Ranger wouldn’t start so I was hauling wood to the house through the snow in a wheelbarrow and I was down an extension cord so the 3/4 ton wouldn’t start and I couldn’t get a round bale in for Zeus so I was carting square bales in that damned wheelbarrow to the 6 foot fence and heaving flakes of hay over at him sending shards of spiky hay all over me and into my hay boots which have holes in them so they’re cold and then UB took off to the forest for a few hours and I knew we would be losing sweet Luigi.
Hell, I didn’t even know about Georgia at that point.
She had been helping me split wood and would leap into my arms daily when I would lock her and Jockey into the barn every night, sweetening the deal with a can of soft food. She ate ravenously every time but we had been noticing her head tilt was more pronounced and she was more off-balance this fall.
Georgia had a chronic sinus infection that used to clear up with antibiotics over the years but this past year it became resistant to everything we tried.
Alistair got home on a Friday, and he commented that she had raspy breathing and wasn’t in her usual place in the barn. I had split wood the day before and she had been cuddly, purring and seemingly normal.
She passed away in her sleep on Saturday, curled up on some blankets in a box.
And poor Alistair had to tell me, his wife who normally kept her shit together but had admitted to being overwhelmed on the phone to him a few days prior.
Doctor Tanya suspects pneumonia but I really don’t know. How brilliant is that, that I didn’t even know she was ill? She looked peaceful and comfy, thankfully, when I went to the barn that morning, where Mummy Tanya had a good cry.
I’m glad I told her and Jockey that I loved them every night when I would close the barn door behind me.
And I’m glad Mamma Cat had her furry babies in our barn in Bismarck the summer of 2005 and that we got to love this special litter and their funny ways for so long.
I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leaving
Oh how the days go by so fast.
So my heart was a little frayed 2 days later when Alistair and I knew it was time for little Luigi to cross the Rainbow Bridge, too. I had carried the weight of knowing he had GI lymphoma for a couple of months and had only shared it with a few friends. Telling people about it only made it more real, which I was trying to avoid. I also don’t like messing with people’s Thanksgiving and Christmas happiness- the ferrets have quite the fan following!
I wasn’t even sure Luigi was going to be around to see his Papa again but he kept eating and wanting to come out and play and sneak into the sub-woofer and nibble cat kibble in the garage. And Alistair got to play a little more with the silver boy he raised in Bismarck for 2 weeks before bringing him to Montana as a Christmas present 3 years ago.
Oh, man, he was a cute little thing but he was so tiny back then! Alistair’s brother, Ian visited in Bismarck and got to play with Luigi, who seemed entranced by his uncle.
Phillipa and Calypso loved their new little brother and we got to enjoy watching them romp and play and snuggle and hide and play the “Chase” game for hours every night.
Their multi-tiered cage, “Quebec” is in the laundry room which is a central part of the house. I walk past it countless times every day, starting with letting the dogs out first thing in the morning and getting cat food to the indoor kitties once the dogs are in bed, the last thing every night.
One or more ferrets would watch me in the kitchen or visit with me as I did laundry for the past 7 or 8 years.
We went through 3 Pirate Ships because they loved the thing so much and come on, what’s cuter than seeing 3 feisty little pirates peeking through peep holes?
Do I even have to mention the Sing-Song Saddle and the Luigi Song?
Doctor Tanya and Doctor Alistair noticed Luigi losing a bit of weight this fall and then his stools got softer and softer. I whipped out every trick I had and even some new ones I learned from text books and an online Veterinarian network I am a member of.
The smell of hospitals in winter
and the feeling that its all a lot of oysters, but no pearls.
Some meds seemed to help and others were just annoying. Like the pink KaoPectate droplets scattered throughout the tiled floors where Luigi would try to spit it out. I have always tried to keep the memories happy during our companions’ final months, weeks or days so seeing him resist the syringe like that didn’t seem worth it. Luigi lived life as the happiest guy on Earth so why change that? Especially since it didn’t seem to help.
But then he stopped eating his kibble, which is usually a sign that Doctor Tanya watches for during palliative care. He still came out daily and played, though, eating lots of chewy treats and cat food.
And he came out one final night but moved much slower than normal. We both watched him in the living room and even the subwoofer didn’t seem to hold its usual appeal.
He did lay on my chest and let me hold him for a long time, at least, and only a couple of tears fell onto him as I kissed his forehead and rubbed his little body that night next to Alistair.
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her.
And the next morning there wasn’t any sparkle in his eyes so together we sedated Luigi, the Italian Stallion and I sang him the Luigi song and he fell asleep in my lap. Doctor Tanya and Mummy Tanya became one and tears fell onto him when I administered the final injection and just like that, Luigi was gone.
And just like that, December was a bit more difficult this time around.
But there were good times, too, many of them shared with the pets and also friends so I was able to sort of coast along busying myself with wood splitting or plowing snow. Having Alistair here during the 2 sad goodbyes helped tremendously. I really felt his absence when he left a few days ago.
When, for the first time in 7 years I didn’t have a ferret or 2 to play with or care for in the evenings. The house is pretty quiet.
Amazing how much of this enormous house those little spirits filled.
Through all of this is Loki’s struggle to handle the cold temps and snow this winter. In all honesty, we didn’t expect her to be enduring another winter but November had incredibly mild weather and she really had the best Autumn of her senior years.
She enjoys her food and Couch Time every single night with us and she gets around the house just the same as always but going outside is a nightmare for her. She even began “chibbering” when I would put her little jacket on inside, seemingly in anticipation of the horrible cold snowy weather.
I’ve pleaded with her to keep doing her business outside because Step Gammy might lose her shit if she doesn’t.
Nobody wants to see that.
Because that isn’t me.
I’m always able to find something to laugh or smile about and I always will, even when my heart is sad. Loki is snoozing under my desk as I type and occasionally she toots and that just makes me chuckle.
I have plenty of things to be happy about and look forward to.
We are a family with 3 cats and 3 dogs. Why, that’s almost normal, right?
And the PGA kicks off 2017 in Kapalua, where Alistair & I spent a week playing golf in November. We totally enjoy watching the pros play the exact same course we were on, remembering how things looked from the tee and how we chose to approach the green (as if my ball ever goes where I’ve chosen it to go!)
And the skating world is in its 2nd half, meaning US Nationals and Canadians and then Worlds are on the horizon.
Will my friend’s 3 students skate well at Canadians? Will Gracie Gold hold her own shit together for the first time this season? Will Tessa & Scott re-claim top spot on the World podium after not competing for 2 years?
And Zeus has a round bale and Jockey is ever-so loving as my companion when I split wood or work outside and Steve has been firing up and we have a new battery charger and Big Red got new battery connectors and the bling company is launching a capsule this month and I found my pink Carhartts and we have African cichlids in our kitschy tank and book 3 is coming together and the days are longer and my heart is full from having a house full of spirits and I’m going to be okay.
And its been a long December and there’s reason to believe
maybe this year will be better than the last.
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself
to hold on to these moments as they pass.
(Thanks to the Counting Crows for the assistance on this one.)
Here’s to a New Year.