View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Goodbye Hannah

We buried Hannah tonight.

She was an undersized calico cat just about six years old.

Hannah was my eldest daughter’s cat. But Clare is off at college, and so Hannah had latched on to me as the feeder, the scritcher, the litter-box changer.

We’d acquired Hannah about six years ago. She was a kitten someone had abandoned in a dumpster behind where my wife and daughter worked. We don’t know how long she had been in the dumpster, and how long she had been without food exposed to the winter weather.

She never grew large. And she was always nervous, ready to run at the slightest movement. Only Clare and I could consistently get near her without her dashing off in a blur of orange and black.

She also never learned to groom herself like other cats. Periodically we had to trim the knots that developed in her long hair. And she never seemed fully able to retract her claws, so trips across carpets became adventures, with her forever getting stuck. She had the same difficulty with items of clothing, as several of my sweaters bear witness.

We first noticed a problem a week ago when she suddenly stopped eating and drinking. She became lethargic. Concerned, I took her to the vet. After tests it was determined that her kidneys were failing, and that the problem had existed for a long time. The condition of her kidneys, her size, and her behavior may have all been linked to her those early days in the dumpster.

Because of her small size and her skittishness, we simply didn’t notice that she was having a problem until it was pretty advanced. Even if we had noticed, there was probably not much we could have done.

For the last week, I have been holding her, trying to feed her and give her water with an eyedropper. The vet gave her antibiotics and the hope was that maybe we could jumpstart the kidneys again. By last night, it was clear we could not.

I came home from work today and sat with her for an hour before taking her back to the vet. She responded, weakly, but she still responded, pushing her head against my fingers as she had done in the past. I don’t know if it made her feel better, but it certainly helped me.

She’s buried out back now, with my old cat Seamus, Lucky, the rabbit, Lady and BB ( beloved guinea pigs), and assorted other critters. I don’t know if animals go to heaven. I suspect a theologian would say that animals don’t have souls the way that humans do.

But I’d like to imagine that when I get there Duke, the dog of my youth, will be waiting for me, wagging his tail in anticipation of a run as I deliver newspapers on my bicycle.

And Seamus will be waiting to jump into my lap and curl into a gray ball.

And Mathom, a stray cat who adopted me when I worked at Covenant House in New York City, will be waiting with one of her throaty meows that always made me think she was part police car.

And, of course, Hannah will be waiting with her claws set to snag my heavenly robes.

All this makes me think of Maggie, my current dog. She’s 11, getting on in years for a dog her size. There’s already gray about her muzzle and ears, and she sometimes hobbles a little from arthritis. In a few years, she will join that heavenly menagerie that I hope is waiting for me.

This week has made me realize that maybe now is the time to take Maggie for more rides so she can stick her head out the window and snort joyfully, and for longer walks in parks where she can sniff to her nose’s delight.

Thank you Hannah for making me aware that I need to pay a little more attention to Maggie.

Thank you for those last minute signs of affection.

Oh, and thank you for your last gift: a thread now dangling from my robe after you snagged it this morning.


Blogger 'Thought & Humor' said...

You have a riveting web log and undoubtedly
must have atypical & quiescent potential for
your intended readership. May I suggest that
you do everything in your power to honor
your Designer/Architect as well as your audience.
Please remember to never restrict anyone's
opportunities for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything, a season for every
activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time
to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time
to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and
a time to rebuild. A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to
scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time
to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose. A time to keep and
a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time
to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak
up. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for
war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,

'Thought & Humor'
Cyber-Humor & Cyber-Thought
Harvard Humor Club

9:14 PM  

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