well clearly i haven’t gotten any better at updating on this general “me” blog. i’m doing better at writing in my art blog, but not here. last i wrote here it was february. and now it’s october. it feels like a lot has happened since then, but at the same time, not much, or not enough. but maybe what has happened is just what was supposed to happen. everything in its time.
and i’m still here. now 56. and now cat-less for the first time in 15 and a half years.
yes, the biggest most recent thing to happen is that stencil the cat died. yesterday. i had to put him down. and it was heartbreaking. excruciating, really. from diagnosis – tumor in his throat, likely cancerous, that was constricting his esophagus and trachea – to death was 2 weeks. i mean, the vet and i had been trying to figure out some of his obvious behavioral and physical changes over the past few years but nothing was coming up on bloodwork or scans. until two weeks ago. he’d lost the ability to meow beyond a whisper a few months back. i just thought it was a getting old thing, that he’d finally given up the loud bellowing that followed sticker’s death a year and a half ago. it didn’t seem like he was straining or in pain, and i welcomed the quiet. i should have brought him in sooner… but i just didn’t realize it was a sign. he kept eating and doing all the normal cat things, so we just kept keeping on.
sigh. i’ve been crying nonstop for days, knowing i was close to having to make the decision to put him down. but it was so confusing, because he’d rally and seem like he was doing better. and he was still so attached to me up to the end, until the moment i had to extricate him from under the bed to take him in to the vet for his euthanasia appointment. he did get mad at me for that, and the ensuing kenneling. he always hated going in the kennel, and going to the vet. maybe he knew what was coming.
but now my house is empty and quiet. i threw the giant old man litter box out last night. dumped all the half eaten cans of cat food that were in the fridge. picked up and washed the elevated bowls i’d only just bought him a few months ago to make his eating easier. threw out some well-loved toys. changed the sheets on the bed and vacuumed underneath it, because when i had to pull him out from under there i realized he’d vomited under the bed what looked like weeks ago. (ick.) picked up and emptied out his water fountain – i still need to give it a thorough scrubbing before offering it to anyone else. de-furred the sofa and threw out his very beaten up cat scratcher/lounger. (there’s a second one i’ll offer up to anyone who wants it because it’s newer and in better shape, still has life left in it.)
i still need to take his cat tower out of my studio, but it’s large and bulky and i might need help. it’s not one of those carpeted towers – it’s one of those newer kinds made of wood, made to look nice and go with your furniture and just has furry pads on the different levels that can be replaced. the furry pads are goners after at least 10 years of use by stencil and his brother sticker, but i’m pretty sure someone can buy new ones and just wipe down the rest of it and it will be good as new. i remember this thing being pretty expensive at the time. but that will free up some space in my studio.
and i still need to give the house a thorough vacuuming and dusting. mop the bathroom and use the shopvac to get all the remaining litter out of there. and then the chore of donating/offering on the local buy nothing group all of his food and treats. i still have medical stuff leftover from sticker’s death a year and a half ago too. i need to move that shit out of here.
i made several social media postings on facebook and instagram about stencil’s illness and then death and got quite an outpouring of support. it was really sweet and i have felt really held by my community of friends far and wide. it’s been very helpful. it’s hard when you are already very alone in the world – no partner, no kids, no real living family that you are close to, no housemate of any kind beyond your cats – when they go and now you – i – am all alone, really. it was so so quiet and still in the house last night. i did sleep, uninterrupted possibly for the first time in a long time, but it was still an uneasy sleep without my boy next to me, touching me, putting his paw in my hand or resting his head in my open hand. that’s how we often slept together.
but yeah, so i’ve been emoting strongly and openly to everyone and anyone for days now, crying so much i had to take tylenol last night to make my head stop hurting. i feel very wiped out. still sad, but mostly empty, still in a bit of disbelief that there is no living creature sharing my home now. it’s just me.
i know i’ll get used to it. maybe i’ll even come to enjoy it, the freedom of not having to rush back to my house to take care of aging, ailing cats at least twice a day, lately much more often. it does make taking a trip i’d planned months ago for mid-october a lot easier. i’d like to think it will make me more likely to take off on adventures a little more frequently, but i’ll have to get back to a better financial place for that. the past few years of vet bills have really piled up on the old care credit card.
anyways. i’m not sure what the point of this post was other than just to update what’s been going on. you can read about my art adventures on the art blog – the one thing i will say is that i have definitely succeeded with my previously-mentioned intention of developing a more consistent art practice. i’d say i’m in the studio almost every morning, and now that i’ve paid to take a 12-week course, i’m painting almost every day. it feels good, even though i can’t say i’ve had any major breakthroughs yet. but i’m moving in the right direction.
life goes on, at least for me. and now i’m left to make sense of it without both of my longtime familiars. i’ll be ok, i know, but i sure miss them both.