That Cat

img_1111

My barn cat Ziggy died yesterday. A hit and run.

I was outside yesterday morning with my very old sheepdog- letting him pee out front because he can’t get down the back deck stairs anymore- when I saw a young teen get out an SUV that had pulled into my neighbors driveway across the street – she went up and knocked on the neighbors door.  I know the neighbors don’t have teens so the SUV and the teen seemed out of place.

Her knock was not answered and she turned back toward the car.  I think she had seen me when I first stepped outside a minute before but I had stepped back behind the tree in my yard not wanting to be seen bc I was snooping. Yes I admit I was. But I wasn’t hidden well. The teen began walking back to the car.  I had called my dog to come in and I as I turned to go in I glanced over to the SUV and I saw that she was not stopping at the SUV. She was passing it and heading my way. I pretended not to see her. I am not a morning person – and I am not big on conversing before I have some food and my tea. 

 It was 7:30am -I thought she must be selling something. But it was way too early to be selling things- so that theory made no sense. Then it dawned on me as I heard the low ring of our doorbell that she wouldn’t be selling anything – something else was up -so I went to the door.

Maybe they were lost I thought. Some homes on this stretch of road are hidden down long driveways with their mailboxes on the opposite side of the road. So I opened the door and I was definitely not expecting to hear what I heard this young lady say. 

“We-my mom and I-wondered if you knew who owned the cat we saw over there. It was killed by a car.”

“Oh f*ck”. Were my first words. Then my apology for such words. Then I say to this young person – Oh well well you’ve heard them before. I was rambling.

Then my questions – is it black? Yes. Did it have white. I think so. She said – but we aren’t the ones who hit him. No. No I know.  Then I am saying I can’t handle picking the cat up I’ll get my son. (Kevin was out of town). She said –my mom says it has a collar. Oh my cat doesn’t have one. (Later I realize that she misheard her mom most likely).

At that moment I’m still not sure what I’m feeling. I’m not upset – it might not be our cat right? I’m just there bumbling my words -but I know I can’t handle getting too close. I walk over to my driveway and look past the car and I see a black leg with a white paw laying still on the other side of the road. Oh shit. I’ll get my son I say.

Get a trash bag I tell him. Get the dead cat across the road. I think it’s Ziggy. I don’t even know what he said- but my almost 19 year old son went outside and got that cat in a bag- our much loved barn cat. Though at that moment I didn’t want to believe it was him. Then I wonder if he thanked the girl for stopping. Then I think how this could have unfolded had we not answered the door. Would I have found him hours later when I went to get the mail or when I took my mom to the doctor that day? 

The things that go through the mind.

Even after my son had done this terrible chore. I’m asking him was it Ziggy? Can we be sure? He didn’t know for sure. He went back to look. Maybe he couldn’t bring himself to look again he didn’t say. When he came back in he still wasn’t sure. I was upset and irritated. How can you not know know your own cat I asked him? But shock is shock. And his was not wanting to know it. And there is his mom in shock wanting so hard to believe it was someone else’s cat. I even texted my neighbor that lives up behind us. Checking- Is Jafar at home? But he doesn’t wander far. He’s bigger than Ziggy. She confirms quickly -Jafar is at home..

It was Ziggy, Ziggers, Zigman, Zig….he is gone…as I write this I still can’t believe it.

I talk to my husband on the phone just before he has to go to a meeting. He told me to have my son take Ziggy to the vet – drop off his broken body. They will take care of him.  I was in shock. I didn’t know what I was feeling. Anything?

But then the like a sheet being slowly pulled off my body reality waves over me. And the tears came. So many tears.

F*ck, f*ck, f*ck. Why?

Just moments before the biggest worry I had was picking up poop on the bedroom from my old dog. But things can change in an instant.

The other day Kevin and I were going to a town nearby to shop and just as the road widens to 4 lanes a groundhog jumped out onto the road. Kevin had little room to do much bc of the traffic and sadly we hit it.  I bent over in my seat and held my ears yelling – no, no, no, no….- on and on. Kevin was rattled- and I am sure my reaction didn’t help. I cried – but calmed enough to shop for the few things we went out for. We were so upset about the groundhog we took a different route home. Since that day last weekend I had been really shook up about that incident. I had been trying to figure it out- look at it. See what it meant. 

But then Ziggy got killed on the road. 

As that sheet of shock wore off the tears burst forth for this sweet cat. For that groundhog too. For the son who struggles in rehab in Florida. For my guilt. Guilt over taking a cat from a nice lady who couldn’t keep him and making him barn cat. But he was born to be a barn cat – he took to it in days. I feel so much responsibility to my animals- and you can’t really control a barn cat. They are enigmas. But still I feel I failed in my responsibility.

I cried and cried. This was why the hitting of the groundhog hung on to me in such a way. I was needing to grieve things I had been holding in. 

There have been so many tears. Guilt and sadness about that and other things. Tears that have needed to come out – not all about this cat – this sweet cat. Tears I have hidden behind a wall that I build in order to be able to walk into each day with my armor on. Those tears clawing to come out and it took the loss of one sweet cat to break the dam.

The cloak of grief over a sweet cat and so much more. That cat that made us smile and laugh. That cat that hunted like no other.. who left us many gifts of dead prey in the barn. Rubbed up on our legs, followed us all over as we did our chores or I rode my horse. That cat who played with his buddy Jet in the barnyard. (Jet has been missing since last week- but I am hopeful he returns.) That cat that went too close to the road. That cat who died and now I grieve for so many things – and maybe in his leaving – in my finally breaking open- because we can only hold things in for so long or they become toxic to us- maybe that cat gave me a final gift. 

Thank you Ziggy- for being our cat…your job with us was complete and on you go to whatever is next. We will not forget you….

 

Missing me? I hope not.

Rudy knew we were leaving. He always knows when we are going to be going in the car. He can tell. The suitcase comes out and I grab my pillow and a blanket I always travel with.

Even Ridley my Old English Sheepdog gets excited. He knows too. And he and Rudy usually get to go along – but not on this particular trip. This time they didn’t hear me utter “bye bye to beach house”. But still there was an expectation. An anticipation. The waiting for the leash. The sad look from Rudy ( or was that my projection ?) when he realized I was going and he wasn’t.

I know not to make a big deal about coming and goings with my dogs. But they know the packing and the taking things to the car. I did give them a pat and a treat when I left. I may have said “I’ll be back in five minutes.” I say that often if I run to the barn or mailbox or store. It’s said with no inflection. No sadness. I just say it as if Rudy or Ridley or any of the other dogs would understand. So The other day I may have said that and then I left. But Rudy was confused. He had anticipated wrong. He thought I was supposed to be getting him loaded in the car.

It’s amazing at what dogs pick up on. They know by your movements where you intend to walk. Well at least Rudy does. My sheepdog who isn’t very smart or maybe he’s just so stubborn it resembles dumb – even he sees cues and knows things sometimes before I know them.

Dogs are so in tune with their humans. We think they can tell time sometimes right? My dogs knew when my kids bus was coming. Not because it was 2:34. But because they likely heard the squeak of the brakes or the door opening at a stop down the road. I couldn’t hear it but they knew. Or maybe it was the light or maybe some cue I gave them through my feelings. Dogs are not humans they have senses we don’t. They are more of this world then we will ever be. We live in houses and so do they but they are so much more part of the real world – is nature. They aren’t distracted by all the things we think are important. To dogs the humans are important to them bc we help them survive. So they have to be in tune to us.

So in this situation of me leaving -the packing is the most telling to them. It seems obvious. They relate those actions to them going somewhere. If I grab my purse Rudy knows I’m going out. Ridley who acts deaf half the time can tell the difference between plates rattling in the sink and the opening of the treat jar in the kitchen. It’s certainly amazing. But I think it’s their instinct to be so in tune.

And for Rudy I’m his job. He rarely plays with our other dogs. He most always chooses to be with me – with the exception of the chance to scam some food off someone in the kitchen. Sometimes he bags me for that. But soon enough he comes to find me again. If a door separates us he lays by it and whines.

I didn’t leave feeling badly about him. I knew he would be ok with my sons and my mom who sneaks the dogs treats often. I left missing him though. We are together a lot but this trip – to Cleveland to see my daughter – wasn’t going to be good for a dog to attend.

Funny enough the drive was nice because we didn’t have any dogs to walk at the rest stop. But I will say I missed him when I was laying in bed. He’s always around and a few times I woke up looking for him quickly remembering he was at home.

Just before bed I had texted one of my sons at home and he called me – no FaceTimed- (I’ll never get used to it.) And he showed me Rudy and Ridley laying by the front door. He said they had been like that since I left. ( ok they did leave that post in order to eat so they aren’t that sad.) They weren’t suffering. They were eating.

I know sometimes when routines change dogs won’t eat -I have a couple dogs like that who occasionally get too stressed to eat when we are gone. Mostly it happens if we have a new caretaker. But after a couple days they are usually eating again.

Dogs don’t have a concept of time like we do so that always makes me feel better knowing they don’t see the passing of time the same as we do. So I knew he wasn’t pining. Just waiting.

I had a little fun the other night and tried to call him to me on FaceTime and he came to the phone. But was totally confused. He heard my voice and maybe saw something in that phone but i am not sure he saw me. I took a couple photos. He’s certainly sweet.

Anyway when I checked with my son the next morning he said Rudy did lay back by the door after our call but then came to bed with him – he slept in our bedroom. The rest of the pack was in there too so he was going in.

I suspect in another day or even less he may have stopped laying by the door. He would move on to whoever was there. He would be ok.

When I got home we had some excitement from all the dogs so Rudy was lost in that fray. I gave him a pet quickly and then I think he was sent outside with the pack. So I began to get settled -I had been home maybe five minutes and back in came Rudy. He doesn’t jump all over me – though he would do that to a stranger. (Pet peeve of mine that we work on and on). He just stood in the room and I told him to come up on the bed for a hug. And it was then he began whining and rubbing his head into my chest. Then Kevin came in and he gave him his excited growl – a thing he does when he’s happy. He makes this growling noise but it’s not menacing it is like he is talking. It’s funny! He also murr’s a lot. It’s dog purring. Maybe some dog owners out there know what I’m describing. He has different inflections of this noise based on what he wants. Like me to share my food. It is an intake or exhale of air with like three pauses. Our lab Lemon does that too. It’s communication and I thinks it’s cool.

I think Rudy was whining because he was glad I was home. I’m a pack member and I was gone. I am also his person and I was back. Did he miss me? Maybe? I want to think he was ok though. But just happy to see me return back to the den.

I did miss a dog being around they are a comfort to me as I have anxiety and I find a dog helps me feel less anxious but I did well aside from some pain from the long drive but it didn’t last long so that was great and I had a nice time seeing my daughter and doing stuff.

But I still wonder what he thinks – what his perceptions are. But I’m glad he is back doing his job. He’s here right now in my office as I write this. He’s laying by the door – and as soon as I move a certain way he will jump up trying to anticipate my next move. “Is she leaving the office? Ok – Just tidying up. Oh then I can rest my head down again. Or maybe there is some paper I can eat. ”

I like to think they aren’t as complex as we try to make them. I like it that way. We must seem very complex to them. Or perhaps they read past all out flawed humanness and see our souls.

I will never really know what Rudy feels but I don’t think my being gone is horribly distressing -maybe confusing because he was anticipating he was going. But he ate and drank and was fine. And I’m glad. I know Rudy and I have some kind of special connection -and however that is manifested i am very lucky to have him.

Ahh – he just came over for some pets. I think I’ll go now and oblige him. All is as it should be in his world. His person is here.

When I’m 54 

Five four

Fifty four. Today I’m 54. 

19710 days alive on this earth. This beautiful, wonderful, terrible, scary, joyful, glorious, sad, happy earth.

That seems like so many days. That number is big. That’s 2808 mondays, tuesdays etc. that I’ve been around for.  I was thinking today that I missed a few of those days or most of one or two or so – but that was during college and I needed a recovery day. Wink wink.

So many days. Each one different. Each one with surprises and joys. Some with hardship and pain. 

But then I was thinking I’ve had 54 (almost Christmases) , that doesn’t seem like that many. And only 54 birthdays. That doesn’t seem like that many right? 

If we are lucky we could get 100 birthdays. That 36,500 sunrises/sunsets. But we don’t know how many days we have so I don’t want to take any for granted but I will. I’ll waste some. Some days I might not feel good. Some I’ll just be so crammed with things that I won’t take time to even register it. It’s life it’s what we do. But some days I will turn to face the wonder of this world. It’s easy to focus on the bad stuff but there is such wonder. 

Did you know that otters sleep holding hands? So stinking sweet? 

Or caterpillars completely liquefy as they transform into moths? What? 

Or two-thirds of the people on earth have never seen snow! Wow they need to see it, feel it, it amazing ( and cold!)

Or hummingbird weighs less than a penny? I knew this only because I saved one once and I’ll never forget it. It was a moment I didn’t take for granted. A magical moment. 

Thank you 54. Thank you 19710 I’ve learned so much….

And your welcome for the fun facts ….

Have an awesome day -I’m going to eat cake…:) 

——

Fun facts credit: all-that-is-interesting.com 

Those little empty spaces- leaving them be.

I haven’t been to the barn since our barn cat Mango was hit and killed by a car last Wednesday. I’ve been recuperating from surgery. Sadly I can already feel in my heart what it will be like when I go down there -and Kevin has corroborated my thoughts -there’s an emptiness. He said it. This little cats death left an empty space.

No more will she come trotting down from the hayloft -her voice preceding her. Nor will she play chase with my horse crop as I flick it along the cement floor of the barn aisle. Nor will she try to bite me if I wanted to stop petting her (she wasn’t perfect:)). It’s just a dusty mess of emptiness. The barn is little more hollow. There’s a vacancy.

This isn’t a post about our little cat that we lost. I’ve posted many pictures of her and shared her over the years. She was a great barn cat. Freedom was hers and sadly that freedom is what also left her with more risks like busy roads. But what this post is about is those sad little empty spaces that beings that we love leave when they die.

We’ve had a number of those empty spaces this last year. They hurt. They make us feel off kilter. While there is -for me -no comparing the losses of my beloved humans to our loved cat- it is a loss. Human loss for me sweeps itself under my feet and pulls me up over myself and then scorches my heart. The loss of beloved pets scorch my heart but don’t render me as dislocated as human loss. But they are still losses that leave empty spaces.

I am so uncomfortable in this emptiness. My first inclination is to fill it up. Because to try to fill it up is easier than facing the sad empty spot head on. With my loss of Mango I’ve sped through the thoughts of “let’s get another cat” to “I’m never going to have another barn cat.” I’ve learned not to listen to any of these thoughts in the wake of loss. I’ve learned that you just have to visit the empty space and eventually in time it won’t be so uncomfortable.

With human loss it is the same but on a way bigger scale. We can’t replace the person we lost with another. Some will try. Some of us will attempt to replace that chasm with anything that can make that space seem so much less empty. But inevitably there isn’t anything to fill those spaces. They never close but they become less sad and uncomfortable.

Kevin said he thinks if we are supposed to get another barn cat it will happen. We will know. And I like that thought. It allows me to face head on the discomforting empty spot Mango left.

I am learning. I don’t always have to try to quell my discomfort. I can learn to just let it be. I can let myself feel what I need to in the time that I need to.

So when I get to the barn in the next few days I think I’ll stand and listen not for what Mango took with her -the little steps and the loud meows- but instead I’ll listen to the silence that she left in her wake and I’ll be thankful that I knew a being like her that left that empty space. Bc those empty spaces we feel really come from loving another – and how scary can something that came from love be?

Little signs 

I have been so sad about the flooding in Texas. My brother lives in Austin. He had lots of rain and wind but no flooding. He is safe. His family is safe. But so many others are not. It’s really so sad we can’t put words to it. 

I’ve wanted to write this week but I wanted it so be something that might bring joy or a smile or warmth. So many people are suffering and don’t we suffer just a little when we see our fellow man in such peril? So I have a little story that will maybe bring you some joy -or you might shake your head and laugh. 

Because I got a sign. Not a sign but a SIGN!

The other day I was talking to my mother in law. She’s in heaven -or the great beyond. Whatever you want to call it. To me it’s heaven. We lost her just over a month ago. My heart still hurts and it will for a while -she was my good good friend for almost 20 years. 

Anyway I talk to her. I feel her so near to me. I can’t explain it. But maybe it’s the way she felt her husband near her after he passed away in 2015. She felt him in bed on his side next to her every night.  Oh and he made visits to us too. I’ve written about the time he was sitting watching kevin build our chicken coop. Kevin saw him out of the corner of his eye -twice. Dad would have loved being part of building that coop!  

So she’s gone and the hours long conversations on the phone are gone too. Often I’d talk to her then hang up and dial my mother. Those days are gone. But my mom lives here so the chats can continue in person.  But there is a hole left where mom sweeney once was. I feel her close but it’s not the same. 

So I talk. She’d want that.  The other day while I was talking to her I asked her to send me a sign she was ok. 

I said ” maybe you could put a white rose on my pink rose bush or put flowers where they wouldn’t really grow.”

I went on with my day and didn’t think about it again until a day or two later I saw this. 


This was a pot of weeds on my deck. I hadn’t planted in there in two or three years because my dogs would tear up the pot and eat the flowers. Last spring I pulled weeds out but weeds kept growing. This year a big stalk grew out of it and the boys removed that a month ago or more – and the pot was supposed to go into the big dumpster we have out front now as we clean things out from a basement flood and the junk that accumulates when three generations are living in a house. 

But now there are flowers in the pot! There weren’t any all summer. Just weeds. 

I take this as a sign. 

I’m not sure what others think but all I know is it brought me joy in a week with a lot of sad stuff going on. 

I’ll take it. 

Hope this made you smile or laugh – it’s all good. 

Thank you’s and angels. 

This past week I had my 53rd birthday.  I think back over the last three years and all my family has been through and along the way I am reminded of all the love that has been given. 

This past summer I ended up in bed in pain and I was in misery. I had days where I didn’t want to keep going. It seems on those days that Kevin would bring the mail in and there would be a card from someone that would encourage me     – Or I’d get a text or Facebook pm from someone checking on me just when I needed an encouraging and caring word. We received meals twice a week for a couple months. I don’t even know who many of the senders were as it was all coordinated by a close friend of mine. The meals were a lifesaver. I couldn’t cook at all and there are only so many things Kevin can cook though he got more creative under pressure:)

 It is said that God puts Angels on earth to help us and to encourage us. These notes , messages, texts and meals were my little gifts of love and encouragement from those angels.  

Love surpasses all things. We don’t have to agree on everything, not one of us is the same and none of us is right all the time or nice all the time. But acts of love and encouragement transcend all that is different about each of us. It’s what brings us together. We are all on this earth trying to survive and learn what the heck this place is all about. 

We can survive without love -I suppose -but it’s a lonely existence. We need eachother.  We humans should take the cue from other animals. Most species need to be around others of their species to survive. 

We humans have more things alike than we have different. Just when we might feel we’ve lost faith in the human race something will pop up on our Facebook feed that makes us change our minds. There is hope for us. 

The notes and texts and messages and meals and calls and little gifts I have received over the last three years -and especially in the last six months have meant the world to me.  They kept me going during some very low and sad times. There aren’t enough ways to say thank you. My words can’t convey what they’ve meant to me. 

I haven’t quite figured this human experience out yet. I have a strong faith in God and I suspect many of my questions will be answered when my time here is completed.  I have faith that God that knows what he’s doing even when I don’t understand it. In the meantime I want to live my life to the fullest that I can and I want make people feel loved and cared for especially when they are down. Just like what was done for me. 

Maybe the best way I can say thank you to all those who have reached out to me is to simply pay all the kindness and love forward.  We can all be angels on earth -it just takes a little effort to make this world a better place. And it feels pretty good to be an angel too. 

God Bless to all of my angels near and far. I won’t forget your love to me.  I love you all. 

photo credit : Realm of Kindness on Facebook

Recovery and getting help. 

My wonderful husband Kevin has been worried about my surgical recovery in the aftermath of my fathers death.  It takes a long time to recover from nerve surgery and I haven’t been sure how I’m supposed to be feeling. I notice small improvements but then I’ll have a bad day. Physically and emotionally. 

I’ve been a wreck about my dads passing and we are planning his funeral and when you are trying to get family in from out of state and kids in from colleges and high school teens schedules it gets a bit crazy.  So Kevin has taken over some of the calling to funeral homes and to the reception place. I’m sure passing some of this off is a good thing.  Giving up control to others is not easy for me. I’m a good planner but I’m just not up to doing all that I’ve been assigned. My brother and I have been splitting tasks and he already planned the memorial for dad in Florida. I feel I need to really help plan the funeral up here in DC. But I’m going to have to give up some control. I need to heal. 

Since Kevin was worried about my recovery so was I. I encouraged him to write my surgeon. Which he did. And yesterday on a Saturday he wrote kevin -twice-back asking some questions and concerned about how this death and the grief I’m carrying is effecting my recovery. He is a great man. I’m lucky we found him. He asked if I was moving enough. He also wants to see me next week. He thinks I need to get into PT. In a pool. If it’s warm I’m cool with that! 

Kevin told me what my surgeon said so I thought about it. I’m not moving enough I’m stuck. I feel like when I get up I can’t do much and I often end up hurting. I’ve been walking but not enough. I’m not trying. I’m down. 

So I decided to get my butt up. I popped a little more percoset. (I take less than 1/2 a pill a day. I’m so weird about meds.) but the amount I take helps so that’s good. I got my shoes on and I went outside with my phone and just walked around. I took pictures and I took a walk. Then I came back in the house a couple hours later and I didn’t go back to bed until bedtime. I hurt some but I was ok. I felt kind of normal though. Like a person living in my home. Not a patient. 

It’s been easy to just stay in bed BC it hurts to get out but once I do I realize it’s what I need to do. I need to recover physically and mentally. 

I’ve had calls from caring friends. A couple encouraging me to seek therapy BC I have been through so much. My friend Jon told me that he knew I was strong but I had been through more stuff in a short period of time and I needed to seek professional help. I think he worried I might be upset but I so appreciate that he cared. It has been a horrible time and he reached out. I’ve been to lots of therapy so I fully agreed I needed to go. But getting my butt there might be hard. But I decide not to listen to all my buts..  I knew I wanted a person older than I am so I found Polly and she sounds nice and caring and I am hoping to meet her next week. I will be downloading on her (a new term I’ve seen streaming tv shows). She may be on the floor after I finish! 

I’m thankful to Jon for saying point blank “get some help”.  I was in a bad place for a long time even before my dad passed.  Jon ignited a spark in me to get myself together again. I need help to do it. Therapy will be a gift to me. 

So yesterday I took some photos on a gorgeous fall day. I wanted to share them with you. I love fall the the season changing and it reminds me that I am in a tough season of my life but my season will change. But I need to have my mindset right and push my body some to get there.