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Rock Ruminations

"The Rock" - Newfoundland's nickname, attributed to the granite and rocky landcapes which wrap around coastlines of the province. It is an affectionate term towards Newfoundland, and highlights the significance of environment. Ruminations - the act of pondering; meditation.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Now This Is Kind of Funny

Okay, more on Natasha and finally coming home tomorrow - can't really get myself to write anything right now.

But hey, I found this on the side of Dale Kirby's blog, Cove Blogger.

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Peaceful Spear of Mindful Forgiveness.

What's yours?

Tags: blog, blogging, blogs

Friday, July 14, 2006

She's Sleeping With The Angels

I can't recall the first time I heard that saying, but I know that I was a young child when I did. For whatever reason, I always found that a comforting notion.

I'll be honest and say that I have never really lost anyone that close to me. I had two great grandmothers who passed away when I was a single-digit age. I did lose a great uncle who I was very close to, but he went both fast and unexpectedly in a car accident. Natasha was even the first pet that I lost.

Last night I stayed up with her for most of the night, just watching her, talking to her, spending time with her until shortly after 3:00am. I was up again at 6:20am to spend her last few hours with her.

The actual visit to the vet was odd. I carried her inside in my arms, we laid her on one of her blankets and talked with the vet for a few minutes. He took her back to put in an IV-type thing and brought her back out to us. We got to spend as much time as we wanted with her, which wasn't that long as it turned out. I guess after spending so much time together the night before, I had said most of my good-byes and within a few minutes gave the vet the go ahead.

It only took about thirty seconds or so, she appeared to be asleep and then the vet said that she was gone. Out of the whole process over the past few weeks, that was the most difficult. A copleof things about it really bothered me (and kind fo continue to haunt me). The first was that one of her eyes didn't close, which bothered me because I thought that her eyes would be closed.

The other thing that bothered me was just looking at her after she was gone. We didn't stay that long afterwards, the vet told us we could stay as long as we wanted, but we were only there for three or four minutes. As I rubbed her head and down her back, kissed her on top of the head, I finally understood the term "lifeless body." I've seen people who have died in the past, I've seen dead animals too... But in looing at Natasha after she was gone, it really was a lifeless body.

Natasha was an active cat (see you can see from the picture). That particular at toy got a lot of work, as she would play with it for ten and fifteen minutes at a time, four to six times a day - in many instances so aggressively that she'd knock the entire thing over. We had this laserpointer that she would chase the red spot around the floor, even up the walls. Every Christmas morning she would spend the morning, sometimes the entire day, attacking and chewing up all of the Christmas wrapping - for that matter she'd do the same thing every time I'd ball up a piece of paper and throw it towards the trash basket and miss (and in a Ph.D. program, that's where a lot of my writing ends up).

In addition to her energy, she was also a very loyal cat. I've talked about how it was just Natasha and me for such a long period of time, and that seemed to cntinue to be an attachment with her, even after Lisa came around. If she was sitting up on the top of her chair (which was also know as our rocker which we haven't sat in for pretty much the last two and a half years). and I came into the living room and sat on the floor to watch television, she would get up and come over and sit next to me so I could scratch her head or her belly. If she was sitting next to Lisa while she was scratching her under the chin, if I got up and left to go to another room, she would leave Lisa and follow me into the next room and settle down where ever I was.

During the course of the day after it happened, we tried to keep busy. We actually left town altogether to try and keep our (mainly my) mind occupied. It has been good actually, when I have been seeing things, watching things, or visiting things - even doing work, reading, and watching television - it has only been in the back of my mind. When I stop, I tend to get lost in my thought about her and that is when I don't do so well. During one of the times that I wasn't doing so well, one of the things Lisa said to me did resonate with me. She told me that "Natasha had lived as good a life and that I had treated her better than some people treat their children." For whatever reason, that made me feel a little better.

One of the things that my wife gave me was a copy of this poem that someone at work gave her for me. It appears to be a common one when you Google losing a pet. It reads:

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Regardless if it is the rainbow bridge or when it is finally my time to be sleeping with the angels (hopefully not for quite some time yet), I do hope to see my little friend again.

Tags: cat, Flickr

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Our Last Day

Well, today is our last day together. Right now Natasha is walking around the top of my desk as I type this. I don't normally let her jump up here, as my transcriber is there and she likes to chew on the headphone wire, but today I just move it somewhere else. Today she can do whatever she wants.

Over the past few days you can tell that her breathing is probably more difficult.. Her belly moves more with each breath and when she is lying on her back you can hold your ear to her belly and actually hear the fact that she is probably struggling a little.

On the outside, minus the more pronouced physical action of her belly when she breaths, you wou;dn't know she was sick. The things that the vet said would indicate that she had moved from mild discomfort to pain, stress, and even panic (i.e., coughing and not being able to catch her breath, making a sound whe she breaths, and open mouth breathing) still haven't occurred. But I know that it is time.

She still isn't eating a lot, even though we are still able to get her to take her steriods, which are supposed to help her appetite. It is a challenge to make sure that she is getting what I think is enough food and water. I'm glad that the wet food that she does eat always has lots of sauce or gravy in it, as it is the water that I have been most concerned about.

Not sure how the day will unfold for me, thus far I haven't been the pillar of strength (and I've only been away for about 90 minutes). I'm kind of glad that it is just the two of us for most of the day, as Lisa is working again today. I have a couple of afternoon meetings myself, which will take me away from her for about two and a half hours, but other than that it is just me and her one last time.

Tags: cat, Flickr

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

D-Day Looms for Natasha

Well, we decided earlier this week (actually shortly after I posted Eight Days In ) that Friday morning was time. We have our appointment scheduled at the vet's office for 8:00am. So in less than forty-eight hours I wil be losing a companion that I've had for pretty much all of my adult life.

It's been tough, these past two weeks. And the past two days have been kind of odd. Some moments I'm okay with the whole situation, knowing that it really is for the best, then there are other times that I am just a wreck.

The biggest difficulty that I have had during this entire process, right from last August when we found out that it was cancer, that the mass was active, and based on its size that she had about a year, has been guilt. For upwards of a year, maybe more, I was aware of that lump in her belly - I could feel it underneath the skin. At the time I chaulked it up to the fact that she was getting old and it was probably a calcium deposit, like th kind of family dog has gotten (as she's sixteen or so now).

I feel guilty because had I brought her to the vet earlier, had they removed the mass earlier, there would have ben less of a chance that cancer cells could have spread into her body. A mass of less than 2cm means an expected lifespan of two to five years. A size of 2cm to 5cm means about a year and more than 5 cm indicates six months or less. Natasha's was in that middle category.

What if I had brought her earlier and they had caught it sooner. Two years wouldn't be up yet, five years would still be a long time away. For a cat her age it may have even taken us the course of her natural life.

But I guess it is too late for "what if"s at this stage. I have about forty hours left with my kitty (as they'd say down here in the south). I'd like to spend it with her lying on my chest and me scratching her head the entire time - but alas life will get in the way: the need to sleep, a couple of meetings at the university tomorrow, plus there is always the fact that Natasha has always been cuddly only on her terms (i.e., when she is in the mood).

To watch us over the past few days it would have been kind of funny to an outsider. I've been doing a lot of work on my laptop in our home office. I'd start the morning in the cushy, comfortable chairand she'd start the day lying on the floor. Before too long she'd jump up on a second metal chair in the office, with only a half or quarter inch of foam for support. The first time I'd leave the office, she'd jump down out of her chair and up into mine - the cush, comfortable one. When I'd return, knowing the fate that awaits her, I haven't had the heart to push her out of the comfy chair so here I sit on the hard metal one. :)

A little something to make me smile in a week that hasn't seen many of them...

Tags: cat, Flickr

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Eight Days In

Where Did I Leave that Article?
Originally uploaded by mkb_nf.

Well, that "days, maybe a week or two" that I told you about in How Do You Say Good-Bye? continues. We are now on day eight.

Thus far Natasha's appetite and her behavior have remained fairly consistent, minus of course Lisa's troubles outlined in Natasha- the superior being!

I know that I've spent most of te past week by her side, with the exception of Monday and Wednesday when I had to go into the university for a few hours and then the fourth of July, when I was gone from about 1:30pm to 9:30pm. I've either just sat and watched TV, read a little, or spent time on the computer - but regardless Natasha always seems to be less than five feet from me, and in most instances close enough to be in contact with me.

I know that this can't last much longer, and I still have no intention of letting her suffer. The vet told us last Friday that based on her chest x-ray, she was in a little discomfort (he likened it to the kind of chest discomfort we would feel if we had a really bad flu). In the vet's office, he got her to cough and then she started breathing with this raspy sound - distressed breathing he called it (probably due to both her condition and the stress of being at the vet). I've been listening for that all week long. She has only coughed three times while I have been here and awake (which has been much more time than I would normally have been). The first time was on Monday for 30-40 seconds and then she had distressed breathing for about two or three minutes. The second time was on Thursday for about 20 seconds, but she was fine afterwards. The third time was Friday for less than 10 seconds and, again, she was fine afterwards.

Lisa and I had talked about Monday being the day, but we've since pushed that back again... Tentatively to Friday now. In my own mind, I had concluded that when her breathing became regularly distressed or when her coughing was happening frequently, we'd call to make the appointment for the next morning (that way I'd get to spend one last night with her). Not being a vet, I don't know if that's selfish of me, but based on what I understand of what we've been told, those are the two signs at this stage that the fluid in her lungs from the cancer has become painful for her or that she has simply become too stressed about the situation. As I don't want to put her through that, those were my own warning signs (along with the normal ones: refusing to eat, going into secluded places and not coming out, etc.). But I can't seem to justify to myself picking a firm date until I see those signs, because I do want to spend as much time as possible with her.

Tags: cat, Flickr

Monday, July 03, 2006

Natasha - Flickr Photo Set

Shortly after writing How Do You Say Good-Bye?, I created a photo album in my Facebook account with various pictures of Natasha which I tried to write humourous captions for as a way to try and deal with the situation.

This morning duplicated that album as a photo set in my flickr account - see My Cat, Natasha. I hope that you enjoy.

Tags: cat, Flickr

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Statistics for June

As I mentioned in my previous post (see How Do You Say Good-Bye?) this has been a tough time for me, so the stats this month will be fairly bare bones...

There were 14 unique visitors: 13 first timers and 1 repeat offender.

These visitors came from the United States, Canada, France, Brazil, India, Germany, Portugal, and Argentina.

Until next month when hopefully much of this will be past me.

Tags: blog, blogging, blog