Yay Team Coco!!!!!

Yay Team Coco!!!

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
–Anatole France

I’ve taken a little break from writing these past few weeks. The last couple of posts were prepared ahead of time in anticipation of knowing that a break in my life was just beyond my sight. And again, I was right. Sometimes things just go wrong no matter what all you attempt to do right. Not long after I had written the post, Her Name Is Marley, things would take a sharp turn south. Marley and I had been bonding and we were bonding tightly. She was cute, sweet, and cuddly. My days of having a sweet kitten in my life were many years overdue. She made my heart smile. But there was something hiding from me, Marley, and the doctors. Marley was sick in a way that I couldn’t love it out of her no matter how much we both wanted. Being sick with intestinal worms and low blood sugar were just symptoms of a much bigger issue. Within a two-week time period that was costly both emotionally and financially we were hit hard. And my little Marley was in the fight for her life.
I couldn’t have asked for more of a very caring staff from the local veterinary office. Marley, more than once, would lay almost lifeless in my arms while the tears streamed down my face hoping that my breaking heart would somehow fix the issues at hand. I could hear the concern in each one of the staff’s voice every time, I would call to check on her. Then suddenly, she appeared like nothing was wrong. She was also about half the size of a normal kitten her age. Within a couple of days, she was in the condition of being nearly dead. The cycle was gut wrenching and incredibly tiring. More than once I was up all night with Marley providing care and just making sure she would make it through the night. But she was miserable from her daily fight for life.

As a pet owner, your mind and heart can make you question humane treatment versus a sometimes-selfish want to keep your animal alive. I had finally come to the time when I asked the doctors, “How much do I need to continue to put her through?” They wanted to take her home to observe her condition closer before giving me any kind of answer. For the weekend, she went home with them and I took my concern and exhausted mind and body to bed for a little respite care. And as the cycle would again repeat itself. Fluids, glucose, and other medications were just prolonging the inevitable and they saw it as well. Marley’s condition would never be ok. I was told that she had a condition with her liver that would never get better. I took my broken heart and prepared myself to be without her. I remember little about those last couple of days. I was truly heartbroken and didn’t want another animal. I just didn’t think that my heart could bare to love another kitten or puppy of any kind. My connection with Marley had been deep and I didn’t want to feel that ever again.

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The universe and my coach seemed to see how much I need the unconditional love like the kind freely given to us by animals. Somehow, they both seemed to try convincing and push me emotionally into just giving the idea some consideration. I was mad at them both. I resigned myself to the thought but decided that I would not actively look for a kitten. If I were to reconnect, a kitten would just have to show up in my life. And that’s exactly what happened.

A litter of kittens had been found under a house and the momma cat had been shot and killed. A good Samaritan took the kittens to the vet and they were looking for homes. There was only one female and she would be mine. I couldn’t believe how big she was. She was normal size for a healthy kitten. Nevertheless, she seemed to pick up right where Marley’s love left off. It took her a couple of days to realize that she could safely be a kitten around me. And it took me a couple of days to realize that she would love me if I would let her.

One of the issues I have is allowing others to love me. The many years of abuse and love demonstrated the wrong way has caused me to put up emotional walls around my heart. I’ve found that love coming from some people has conditions. And what I’ve needed for many years is to be shown and taught the concept of love after abuse. And this little kitten that I fought so hard to not find appears to be just what the therapist ordered. For me, the connection with animals has always been easier and safer than the connection with people.
The first hurdle in our relationship was to give her a name that was meant for her. I watched her for a few days while also searching through lists of names. A 5-year-old alter kept shouting her obligatory pleas to watch one of her favorite children movies by Disney. And the title that also allowed her to keep part of a connection with Albuquerque and the Hispanic culture was Coco. This little kitten seems to look like a Coco to me. I have battle wounds from our many hours of playing. And my heart bares the pawprints for every minute she’s loved me through my tears and wounds that are and are not seen.
Every therapy session she’s close to me and usually sleeping at my feet with her paws touching my foot. She seems to understand that her job is to be by my side when my many tears fall. And so far, her daily work opportunities have been plentiful. As my heart continues to heal and the growing pains continue to hurt, we continue to be a dynamic duo. The pieces of my puzzling life are still being found.
#thispuzzledlife

The Marley Chronicles

THE MARLEY CHRONICLES

Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching
is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance.
—Dan Greenburg

Since I haven’t had a kitten in several years, I thought maybe I could write things that I observe Marley doing. Yes, I have been taking notes on her behavior. I have sat quietly, while giggling at some of the funny things that she does. The way I see it, at least I get to experience unconditional love that I’ve missed since Simba and Nalla died. I’ve really missed having that. Having a mental illness that most people couldn’t begin to understand, leaves me living on an island. And then you look into the eyes of an animal and you intuitively know that somehow, they just get it. There’s no explaining that needs to be done with them. All you need is the willingness and opportunity to exchange energy and the outpouring of love will continue if you let it. Enough of the sappy stuff and tears. So, anyway I have put together a list of Marley’s crazy little kitten behaviors and wanted to share them. She will eventually write on her own but right now she needs my help.

1. Kittens can make snow out of the paper in a Kleenex box.
2. Kittens do their best to kill broom bristles.
3. Kittens are more like toddlers than we realize.
4. Kittens behave better for their grandparents than for their parents.
5. Kittens are like little vampires with fishhooks in their paws.
6. All they really need for a toy is a house shoe or a sock with moving toes to kill and they will be entertained for several minutes.
7. Their owners must have a high pain tolerance, Neosporin and a lot of love.
8. Just because you have on long pants does not mean your leg won’t be used as a scratching post.
9. If you’re busy writing, they don’t care. They will make their way to your pen and paper and then sit on them and look at you.
10. Trying to set boundaries with a kitten DOES NOT work!!!
11. Yelling “SHELTER!!!” loudly doesn’t work.
12. When you’re ready to go to sleep they’re not.
13. Watching them raise their back and hop sideways at their reflection is entertaining for humans.
14. Bathroom time for you is supervising time for them. Their motto is “If you can potty, I can do it better.”
15. Being told “NO!!!!” While being sprayed by a water bottle will get you attention faster than the Corona Virus.
16. When I’m cleaning the house, kittens want to help until the “death machine” (vacuum cleaner) is turned on. Then she sprint’s who knows where and sits quietly until death machine leaves the house.
17. AND WHEN THEY FALL ASLEEP IN YOUR ARMS ALL OF THE ABOVE DOESN’T EVEN MATTER.

Marley brings me joy and laughter. While living in Texas the animals that helped to heal my broken heart for my grief were: Harley, Annabella, Princess, Journey Faith, Callie Ray, Smokey Bear, Mickey, Esme’, Bella, Fanny, Black Cat, Fat Cat and a very special connection with Ginger Bella. They all were incredibly special animals that I got to share time and space with. And I’m sure they were all helping me to prepare emotionally for my sweet Marley.

#thispuzzledlife

Two Cats That Changed The World

Two Cats That Changed the World

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
― Anatole France

I’ve written about some of the funny interactions between me and animals namely the Angry Birds of Albuquerque.  And I’ve probably mentioned, at some point, my cats Simba and Nalla in passing.  But what I would like to share is how two cats changed one part of this big world….MINE.  They changed me through their unconditional love.

In June 2000 I was working at a local vet clinic in the Hattiesburg, MS area.  Specifically, I was over the adoption center they had there.  I would take in puppies and kittens and find homes for them.  There was a lot of work that went into that job but I loved working with the animals.  This became a place of catharsis that was a nice break from the daily emotional abuse of my marriage.

One day a gentleman walked in with a box and inside it were two little kittens barely a week old.  He told me that the momma cat was killed attempting to move these little kittens across the road.  We typically didn’t take animals this young so, I took them on as a personal project.  From that day forward that box and those two kittens went everywhere I did.

My days and nights included bottles every two hours for these little beings.  I hungered to be a mother but deep in my soul I knew that bringing a baby into that volatile situation was not smart.  And these kittens were filling that void for the time being.  During some of those long nights and sleep deprivation I said to them, “Six weeks and you will be finding a new home.”  Tube feeding, bottles, antibiotics and ringworm later and six week old playful kittens would be taken in that same box to the adoption center.

I made their cage extra special and comfortable.  These cats would be going to their new home together as the loving sisters that they were.  I watched every visitor to see if they were interested in these cats.  I was going to interview anyone who was interested with a fine tooth comb.  Secretly, I hoped no one wanted them because somehow I had formed a connection that I never thought possible. No one came in and met my unachievable standards for these cats.  So…..they came home with me where they would live out the next 15-16 years.

 

I would find solace in these cats that had no expectations of me.  They loved me unconditionally and new when the perfect time was to want to cuddle.  Always on their terms of course.  If I cried in silence as I usually do, they could hear me from any dark clothes draw, closet or clothes basket in the house.  They came running and meowing almost as if saying, “Momma let us love you.”  I could be having a true snot crying moment and as long as they were in my lap or touching me somehow they were my own personal sponge to absorb my tears and often heavy emotions.

 Simba and Nalla would become the original “Battle Buddies” our fight to survive abuse both physically and emotionally.  The emotional and psychological abuse from my husband and brother-in-law could be intense and dangerous.  Somehow, though, as long as Simba and Nalla were there I seemed to be engulfed in a bubble that no abuse could reach at least for that moment.  This seemed to be that extra bit of protection that I used to my advantage.  As long as they were determined to be by my side, I was determined to one day find a way out.  That day would eventually come.

There were nights when he would angrily get up with a belt and going into the room where all my animals slept and began hitting anything in his path.  My cats were terrified of his anger just like I was.  He would hit torment them with a broom which they never get over.  As much as I wanted to protect them, it was just too dangerous, for both me and them, to intervene.

My and “my girls” eventually left that relationship with PTSD intertwining our emotions and thoughts.  I would take them into my relationship with Melody with all of our scars both visible and unseen attached.  Anytime one of us had to use a broom to clean Simba and Nalla would run for cover.  And loud noises and even mild arguments and you would find them tucked away in whatever haven of safety they could find nearby.

My girls were quirky as hell just like me.   The ultimate form of loyalty I experienced with them and it was beautiful to say the least.  A couple of years ago I walked into our living room in Albuquerque to find Nalla, our black and white, overweight kitty sometimes called our “Gateway Kitty,” rolling around on the floor in obvious pain.  I looked into her eyes and knew that she was suffering in a way that was not visible.  We made eye contact and a feeling from her that said, “You know what to do. Please stop my suffering.”  I’ve always told pet owners that when it’s time to put a family pet down you would just somehow know.

This was the day that I had feared since they were very young kittens.  My heart was breaking for this beautiful creature that through love had propelled me to safety.  The years of intense love for both she and her sister was now gathering for this one moment.  With tears streaming down my face and Mel looking on I said, “Get the laundry basket comfortable for her….It’s time.”  Trying to comfort Nalla knowing that I really couldn’t physically she seemed to know that my heart was breaking.  I kept looking into her eyes needing the reassurance that what I was doing was the right thing.  And she looked back at me as if to say, “It’s ok.”

Simba was meowing not really knowing where Nalla was going.  She went to her place of solace which was a pillow next to mine on my bed where she slept every night.  The ride to the vet was one of the longest rides I had ever taken.  My heart was breaking even if the right decision was being made.

I handed the laundry basket with one of my best friends in it to the tech.  With tears falling I kissed Nalla and told her that I loved her.  A few minutes later I would receive the her collar with the bell on it.  A couple of weeks later I would receive her ashes.  Simba seemed lost but still tried to comfort me at all costs.  Somehow a the survival of an era seemed to be coming to an end.

Exactly one year to the week I would go through the same process with Simba my grey and white tabby.  It was like their job had been done and it was time for me to fly on my own.  These beautiful animals were with me through a horrible time in my life.  They expected nothing other than treats and junk food.  There job, as they saw it, was to be with me in whatever way needed or possible.  And through their undying compassion I was beginning to heal.  Those two little kittens were more than  house decoration.  They changed my world.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”

–Martin Buber

#thispuzzledlife