A diary of grieving

Note: I thought this might happen. It is actually 9:35 pm ET in the USA on 1/25/2021. I began writing this on 1/14/2020.

My cat is in my freezer.

This sentence demonstrates the surreal quality of my last two days. My dearly loved cat, the emotional equivalent of my daughter, died at around 9:40 am ET USA on Monday 12/14. She was 17 years and 7 months old.

Cammie in 2015 in Winter Springs.

I was on the phone with a lady at an Altamonte Springs veterinarian that I have occasionally used when I was severely broke. They were always kind. I was trying to arrange a visit to have Cammie euthanized.

🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱

That is what I wrote the day Cammie died. It is now 12/26/2020.

It’s late Saturday night. I really wanted to get to these couple of pet blogs I wanted to write but, I’ve been emotionally drained. Losing her took the rug right from under my feet. I’m going to have to write this story in segments to get it all told. Today I’ve been so lethargic. I had Christmas Day and today off but, I had very little energy, even though I got some very happy news on Wednesday. This was the first Christmas I’ve had without her since 2007.

She came into my life and, those of my three roommates, in Fall 2008. She was brought to our home-a four bedroom house-in Edgewater, Florida, which is south of New Smyrna Beach. One of our Barnes & Noble co-workers was getting a divorce and could only take two of her three cats to her new apartment. Our roommate, Boram, offered to take Cammie in. It was supposed to be a fostering situation but, we all suspected it was actually a dumping.

Boram was to be her foster mom. She already had a sweet, humorous female orange tabby kitty named, Abby. She liked to eat dust bunnies. Yeah, I didn’t believe it until I caught her and attempted to stop her snacking on one in the kitchen. Abby, not Boram. As far as I know, Boram never ate dust bunnies but, she did share some delicious Korean food she brought back from her mom who lived in South Florida. Kimchi, yum.

Cammie spent the first week almost entirely living on a shelf in my closet. She came out for food and water and to use the kitty toilet. We all tried to coax her out. Sometimes she felt comfortable enough to leave her hiding spot.

She seemed to bond with me first. Eventually, I would wake up to find her snoozing on my hip-I’m a side sleeper.

Once Cammie found her courage to make a home with us it didn’t take us long to beg the question, “Why would Torrie want to give her up?” Cammie was full of goofy personality. We all fell in love with her. I started to feel bad for Abby.

She was this chunky fur ball with the cutest chirpy meows and tiny front paws and cow hocked rear legs that, when watched from the rear, made her resemble a bunny when she ran. It was adorable.

It’s almost 5 pm Tuesday 12/29/2020. Sharon’s cat, Princess, is sleeping on my backpack and dirty laundry on the spot where Cammie died. It’s still weird to say, “Cammie died.” I really do not like euphemisms about death. I think using them, at least for me, prolongs denial of reality.

Tuxedo cat, Princess, my roommate’s cat. She and Cammie were not really buddies. They tolerated each other but, they never got into fisticuffs, just arguments.

It’s been two weeks and a day since she died and I still half expect her to be upstairs waiting to greet me with a holler that I used to translate as, “Oh, you’re home. My bowl is empty; feed me.” Her meows were so cute. It seems like everything she did was cute. Everyone who met her and spent any time with her would agree.

I picked up Cammie’s ashes last Tuesday. On the way home from the pet crematorium, which is almost to Lake Nona in south Orlando, I parked in the lot of the last Publix I worked at. It’s close to UCF and was a good spot to await the call for my phone interview with who, as of yesterday, is one of my bosses. The juxtaposition of the elements added to the surrealism.

It was weird having a lively interview with this organic grocery store manager while the ashes of a dead family member sat inside a plastic urn inside a paper handled gift bag. The bag also contained a lock of her fur inside a little manilla envelope and a paw print on a paper card. I must say, that everyone at the crematorium was very kind and professional.

This is Cammie’s paw print. I posted this photo on my Facebook page. I took this photo in my car.

It is officially 2021. Midnight. January 1st.

The people in my neighborhood are going especially bonkers with the yelling, cheering and fireworks.

It reminds me of the New Year’s Eves past when I looked in on Cammie to make sure the noise wasn’t freaking her out. The noise never did. When I looked in on her-she was usually sleeping on my bed-she’d raise her little head open her mouth wide and yawn, doing that tongue curl cats often do.

I spent last New Year’s Eve in the hospital in Altamonte Springs after having my left knee replaced. My surgery happened on December 30th. I was only supposed to spend one night in the hospital but, on the 31st I pulled a muscle right behind the replaced knee and I ended up staying a second night.

Those two nights were the third and fourth nights I spent away from Cammie in the eleven years I was her mom. The first two nights happened in August and September of 2016 when I was in two sleep studies to evaluate my sleep apnea. So, the bond between us was very strong.

Tonight the booms are quite vigorous and very close, making the door rattle. These noises might have bothered her because they are so close. I understand the energy behind them. This has been has been a year long ride on a rickety rollercoaster that has missing screws and loose rails.

It’s 10:31 am Thursday 1/7/2021

Each day gets less difficult. I still miss her tremendously but, the moments when I forget that she’s gone are becoming less frequent.

I think some of the reasons for that are that I’ve had some emotional distractions, one of which was extremely hurtful and disappointing. I thought that I might be building a relationship with someone that could possibly go from a close friendship and mutual respect based upon intellectual interests to one that was romantic. After digesting, for several months, that he was actually flirting and trying to steer things in that direction, I found out very suddenly he’d reunited with the wife. I discovered this not via a conversation but, via a sentence on a Facebook page. This happened on January 1st. Ahh, yeah, welcome 2021. I really didn’t need that pain two weeks after losing Cammie.

Thus, one grieving merged with this new one.

A good distraction is currently underway. I was hired to work at Sprouts Farmers Market, in Winter Park. It’s just slightly further from my home in Winter Springs than Walmart is. There is a Sprouts that is closer, in Oviedo but, I will be working with a friend who was a co-worker at Walmart until she left there. I am extremely grateful to her for helping me get paroled from Walmart. My hourly wage will significantly increase and I will be in a place that has the scent of a hippie vibe that speaks to my soul. I began that job on Monday 1/4 and had my first training shift the next day.

The day after that, Wednesday 1/6, just before 6:00 am I discovered my remaining five shifts at Walmart had been removed. I guess it was a backhanded firing. It reminded me of that other backhanded rejection I received on 1/1. This one wasn’t heartbreaking but, it was just as rude; they didn’t call either. Pretty much, I was lied to by one of my bosses, who I just unfriended on Facebook. I had a scheduling conflict and needed to give away my 1/4 shift to start the new job. Days before hand I’d asked, probably, eight co-workers if they could cover it . Every one of them was already working. Then, one of my awesome work buddies, Vickie, said she’d work a double, meaning she’d work my 8-3 shift and then her 5-10 shift, if they would let her. Vickie was trying to help me avoid getting a point or, an, “occurrence,” because if I called out I would be at 5.5 points. That’s a half point over the termination number. After I was assured that Vickie really wouldn’t mind doing that, I double checked with one of my managers and she told me that Vickie would just show up for my shift and I would still get the point but, the HR manager would remove it once a front end manager talked to her. I’m pretty convinced that that conversation never happened. I was misled and Vickie, who is about my age-upper 50’s-didn’t need to torture herself with working a double.

I didn’t really need that leveled at me on top of losing my cat. And, of course, I earned an occurrence for needing to call out because my cat fucking died. That point put me at 4.5. I’m so grateful for this new job.

It’s 6:23 am Sunday 1/10/2021.

It’s almost been a month since Cammie died. Yesterday evening I started to ascend the stairs and for a few seconds I thought I was going to see her on my bed. It brought out more tears. I just miss her so much,

It’s about 6:43 am. I’m getting ready for my third training shift at Sprouts. I just filled in some information in my last diary entry. I still have Cammie related stuff I don’t have the energy to deal with. I still have one of her litter boxes to dump out and wash. It has no cat waste in it but, I just haven’t been able to do it.

Cammie trying to munch on a lottery ticket. I think this
was in 2019.

It’s 5:09 pm 1/13/2021

I worked my first solo shift at Sprouts today. I got home and unloaded my lunch bag in the kitchen and turned to go upstairs and peel off my work clothes. For a few seconds I expected to see Cammie. I briefly thought I was going to get to pick her up and give her a smooch. I didn’t cry, at least not immediately. I guess that means I’m getting through this. She was such a very special, unique cat. The mold was definitely broken when she was created.

Tomorrow will be exactly a month since she died. I so wish I could have gotten her to a vet before she took her final breath. Ok, now, I’m crying. I miss her so much.

Even though this exposure is off, I still love this photo of her. She looks so cute and it highlights her adorable tiny front paws. I think I took this in 2017, when she was 14.

It’s 6:42 pm Monday 1/25/2021

I’d really hoped to wrap this up by the 14th, the one month point of Cammie’s death. But, my emotions are not obeying the calendar. Moving on from this is complicated by an event that happened on January 1st. That’s when I discovered that someone I trusted, whom I believed was making an honorable attempt at building a different kind and closer relationship with me, actually wasn’t. He reunited with his spouse. Wow, I guess you really can’t trust over the top flirtations juxtaposed on dilated pupils. Maybe he’s just a big chicken. It’s super hard for me to let go without trying to understand. Not to brag but, I feel and think things deeper than the average bear. I want to understand, on every level of my cognitive and emotional being.

Maybe it’s an artist thing. Most of the artists I know do seem to be deeper thinkers and feelers than the scientific counterparts in my life. This person I’m grieving is in a more scientific field than I am in. I won’t get specific. He’s too good at what he does and has a lot of others who do depend upon his skills.

I know, cognitively, I will be fine. This is the third time that I’ve been in this almost exact situation. Not, to get new agey/ weird on you all but, each of these three guys had Cancer on the ascendant-I am purely guessing, judging on certain behaviors and physical attributes-about this latest person. I seem to attract these Cancer guys like a magnet. It’s humorous, entertaining and painful.

This is a complication I will survive but, it has slowed the processs of getting over Cammie’s death. I miss her every single day and as I write this I’ve begun to cry over not having her to pick up and hold and hug. I miss kissing the top of her head. I miss her many meows. I miss awaking in bed to find her lounging or snoozing on my hip. I miss how happy she got when I gave her Temptation cat treats. I miss watching her devour them whole, as if she were a castaway on a desert island who hasn’t seen civilized food in a year. I miss watching her smack paper wads and bite paper-she loved putting her fangs into paper more than chewing it. I miss her sitting on the bathroom counter ( the only one she was permitted to be on and she knew the difference) and screaming at me to turn the faucet on so she could drink the running water. My cat Merlin used to love to do this too. In my mind they were pretending to be Merriwether Lewis drinking from a pristine Montana stream. I miss seeing her express her complete relaxation and trust by turning onto her back and snoozing with her four paws spread out and limp.

What I miss the most was something she used to do infrequently but, was always hilarious and it was something that, when I first witnessed it, made me absolutely fall in love with her.

It was probably early 2009. I was living in Edgewater, in Volusia County. I seem to recall it was a chilly night. I was sitting on Alesha’s comfy reclining sofa. It faced the long hallway that led to three of the four bedrooms, including mine. Boram, the roommate who was Cammie’s foster mom, and Torrie, Cammie’s actual mom, had commented on Cammie loving ribbons. Well, that evening I learned just how much.

As I sat on the sofa, my legs extended and stretched out on the folding, “footstool,” I heard this playful call, “Meoow, mreerow, meerow,” cats have an immense vocabulary. And I looked up from my book or journal into the dark hallway, toward the adorable cat voice and there was Cammie doing that cute curving cat strut that they seem to do whenever they want to show humans just how proud they are of themselves. Somehow she had managed to loop a silky brown four foot long ribbon around the base of her tail. The two halves of the ribbon were of almost perfect equal length draping onto the floor from the end of her tabby shaded body.

It was the most adorable thing I’d ever seen any animal do. And, I’d once shared a beer with a horse, I called to her and she trotted toward me, ribbon flowing behind her with this facial expression of pure pride that seemed to say, “Lookie what I did.” I almost cried it was so cute. And, now, as I recall this, seeing and experiencing it and writing it out here I am balling my eyes out. I can barely see what I’m typing. I felt such pure love for her in those few moments that I knew when I moved from Edgewater back to Orlando, I would be taking her with me.

It turned out that my Intuitive Voice was exactly right-again. Not long after she arrived in our home, during the time she was living almost entirely in my room that first week, my Voice spoke in its gender-neutral fashion, “She will be going with you to Orlando.” It was one of about twenty times in my life that that voice has spoken the truth about life events. It’s off the subject a bit but, the same voice also informs me of when either Led Zeppelin or Robert Plant songs are on the radio-either soon to start or in progress. I’ve had this skill since I was a teenager, in the 70’s. It is almost always right about the music choice. I’ve even heard The Voice when I’ve been playing a Zeppelin or Plant CD. It’s always fun to test the accuracy.

I think it’s a way The Universe reminds me to trust my intuition. So, when I heard it speak about bringing Cammie with me to Orlando, I knew exactly that would happen. It sure did in September of 2009.

Here it is January 2021, one half of a sucky pair of months. My current roommate, who wants to be known as, Rose, on here, is in the hospital in Sanford. She frequently gets unitary tract infections that seem to require elephantine amounts of antibiotics to cure. I get to babysit her cat, Princess, during these hospital stays. When I arrived home today from my Lake Mary trip, Princess was crashed on the arm of the sofa. I went to stroke her and accidentally called her Cammie. I teared up a little when I caught myself.

I will be ok. My energy is slowly returning because I’m gradually getting into a new life routine and I think I feel like I made progress on the colon situation, finally. Today’s appointment was originally slated for October. Then I had my insurance canceled and I had a meltdown and then life’s dominoes began falling until January 4th came and I began my new job.

Rebuilding is about to start. I had the strength to multitask this evening. That’s good. I am beginning to look at pictures of cats and think about getting a new family member. But, I’m waiting until I am moving into a home I will love.

Somehow I will acquire the resources I need and want for that and I will get a new kitty.

2 thoughts on “A diary of grieving

  1. She was absolutely beautiful. I’m so very sorry for your loss. I have unfortunately lost many throughout my lifetime and witnessed many others in similar situations when I worked at the pet crematorium. So very sad but also rewarding to be able to help fellow animal lovers in their time of need.

    Liked by 1 person

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