Friday, July 9, 2010


Sometimes, I think I give you all a really false impression of myself. I must seem to "together" when you can only know me via writing. I warn you that what you are about to read presents a very different side of me that you may not be used to, but it's no less real. This is the side that my family and close friends get to deal with.

You see, in the lag time between when an incident happens in the Real World and when it gets posted on Blog World, the bandaids have been stuck, the patches made, the mending done. I (mostly) wait until situations have a happy ending before I post about them. Not this time. This time, we're right in the middle.

So I start my tale....

There is a cat at work called Cindy Lou, who I have renamed Cindy Lou Who. She's almost completely black with the tips of her front paws flashing a bit of white. She is 11 years and 2 months old, and she is recovering from an upper respiratory infection from a few weeks back for which she is still on medication. She lost weight with the URI, and the medicine they give her for it diminishes her appetite, so she's not eating. She's very severely underweight, probably half what she should be, soaking wet.

She is absolutely the sweetest cat, though. For some reason, she has no voice. I don't think her vocal chords work, because she only silent meows, and it's just so darn cute. I find it incredibly endearing. She loves (loves!) to be held and cuddled and purrs and silent meows up a storm. Because she can't be adopted until she gains weight, she needs a foster mom to take her in for a while to fatten her up. Of course, the very day I move out, this will be where I come in. I passed it by Mom, letting her live in my room at my current house, but she knocked that down and I accepted it.

Until tonight, that is. Three of my fellow animal caregivers mentioned that Cindy Lou Who wasn't doing well and that they may put her down. This is just opinion, not anything anyone has heard from Medical or anything like that. J, who has been there for 18 years, said, "If she just gets a foster, they won't mind giving her more time, because she won't be taking up space in the shelter." I take my foster class on Sunday, but I still don't know when I move out. The last we heard they said sometime in July.

I was okay until the vending machine ate my 65 cents and refused to give me a Diet Coke. I started crying on the way to the car. I knew this wouldn't end well, so I called Leigh, who was on the other line with someone. I called her 3 times, hoping she'd sense the urgency and take my call. I tried my sister, who is often up at this time and would be happy to help me calm down. By this point, sans Diet Coke (a huge calming mechanism), no Leigh to be found, and Emily in bed, I lost it. I pulled over on the side of the road and and thought. And thought. And thought. I wasn't calming down. I decided to call home and wake my mom up.

Me: Bob, can I talk to Mom?
Bob: She's sleeping.
Me: (Uh, bawling...). It's kind of important. I can't calm down.
Insert rustling and mumbling.
Mom: What, Lydia?
Me: Mom, I'm really upset because they might put Cindy Lou Who down if no one can take her and I don't want her to die.
Mom: I'm sorry.
Me: But Mom, we could take her.
Mom: I'm not taking another cat, I told you that.
Me: But they'd pay for her food and her medicine; you wouldn't even know she's there. We can save her.
Mom: I'm sorry, I wish we could, but we can't take another cat right now
Me: Mom, she's going to die. We could save her. She's already like my cat. We can't let her die.
Mom: *sighs....*
Me: You're being mean. You could save her, and you won't. It's your fault.
Mom: Honey, lots of things are my fault, but this isn't. Don't blame things on me that aren't my fault.
Me: You're mean! It is your fault! I'm mad at you! Go back to bed.

Leigh called back not two minutes later. I explained the whole situation, and over the next hour, we talked and repeated and talked some more and repeated some more. I kept saying that I just needed to be mad for a while. She (for a while, unsuccessfully) tried to convince me that I was rightfully angry, but not at my mother, because it was no more my mom's fault than it was anyone else's who can't or won't take Cindy Lou. We discussed at length whether it was a good option to decide that I didn't care about cats anymore. I rocked outside on the... rocking chair, but it's not a rocking chair, it's a kind of couch that rocks, which squeaked and squaked incessantly. Leigh recommended that I go see Elsie, but my OCD thoughts of hurting her kept creeping up and I was afraid to. She said, "What if Elsie misses you right now?" I said, "She's just a cat. Cats don't miss."

I finally (after, like, an hour and a half of crying and talking) decided that I could go in and find Elsie if Leigh stayed on the phone with me to make sure nothing bad happened. I opened the door and Elsie was right inside it. She normally waits for me upstairs, but she was directly inside the basement door, meowing before I even got it open. My poor baby knew I was outside crying and couldn't get to me. I said, "Hop up so I can pet you, Els," and she did just that. I apologized for putting her through that, and feeling alright, got off the phone with Leigh.

I headed upstairs, and Elsie stayed right at my feet, never once tripping me up though. I did my change clothes/take meds/empty work things from purse routine. Then, I sat down at the dining room table to write apology notes to my parents. At this point, Elsie hopped up on the dining room table, a no-no, but she just had to be right next to me, and I couldn't tell her to get down. She knew it was a one-time thing, anyway.

Bob's note is fairly simple. I wrote that I'm sorry for waking him up, but that having exhausted all other options, I did the only thing I could think of: call Mom. I said that I do not enjoy waking people up and thought long and hard about it, and that I promised to try not to do it again in the future.

Mom's note is a list. Sorry for waking her up. Sorry for saying it's her fault, when in reality it is many people's fault and only a tiny fraction of that is hers. Sorry for asking again when she had already said no. A little bit sorry for letting Elsie on the dining room table. And then I wrote that sometimes I need her to listen to what I mean instead of what I say. I say, "I'm mad at you," but what I mean is, "I'm angry at this situation and I'm projecting it on you because you're the only concrete being I know at whom to be mad, even though I know you don't deserve it." When emotions get involved, sometimes what I say and what I mean get mixed up. I told her that if I'm being either repetitive or unreasonable, to please help me figure out what I mean instead of what I'm saying.

I left the notes out for them to find in the morning. I'm afraid Bob will still make a big deal out of the waking up part and make me apologize like a dog with my tail between my legs, 900 times, before he drops it, if he ever does. But I hope that being proactive and apologizing will help.

Elsie hasn't moved from the back of my neck, first purring, now sleeping, in over and hour. Did I mention that I love my service cat?

So, as you can see, your "mature" and "insightful" Lydia can only be such when she has had quite some time, and some help, to process things. In the moment, it can get pretty messy. I'm a little worried that you will like me less after reading how nasty I got, but hey... that's me, and sometimes I get nasty. Don't we all?

Gonna take my kitty and go to bed, now.


  1. As I told you on IM, i thought this was a very mature and insightful post :)

  2. We all say and do things in the heat of the moment that we wish we could take back or change. The difference between you and a huge number of adults is that you have taken responsibility for your actions and tried to make amends. So many adults do not think back to the events, think through how they reacted, what they said, what effect it had on other people.

    It takes real maturity to be able to do this. At your age it is far less usual than you would think. I think it was an understandable reaction to a horrible situation and you did well. You did try to calm down.

    My only other suggestion is that you think of something you can carry in your bag that, in a real emergency, will calm you down. A book, a fiddly toy, a list of things to remind you to look at pictures of cats?

  3. You know what Lydia...I wish I had of been as mature and able to make amends in such a gracious way as you were able to at your age. I never had the ability to do this and I sorely wish I had of.

    I would be thrilled if my child were able to make amends in such an honest way and be so insightful as you were.

    I also believe that you reacted in a way that is perfectly natural when you are feeling irrational. I am not saying it is the perfect way...but don't beat yourself up for not being perfect! I have had to make amends for behaving in a similar way after passing a pet shop with my husband! (embarrassing to admit at my age!)

    I dearly hope for a good resolution for Cindy Lou Who.


  4. Nope. Still like you. :D

    You're passionate about animals and cats and you want the best for all. Apologising at any point was great and to apologise at that time was even better. Good for you.

    Hope Cindy Lou Who has a good out come.

    Love & happy thoughts!

  5. Thank you so much for your very honest post. My son, at 9, can't yet express these feelings, but, I know he doesn't mean the things he says sometimes. Thanks for confirming that. I think you're awesome!

  6. Thanks, guys.

    Annicles, my purse is a gold mine of calm. It has cat pictures on a key ring, it has a squishy or sometimes two, it has 2 of my plastic cat figurines everyday, it has a little stone cat from my friend Megan, it has my Mp3 player and my sunglasses...

  7. Lydia, you are wonderful - really. This is just part of who you are and I really like you anyway :-)

    I hope that Bob will be more gracious than you think.

    I pray for a good outcome for Cindy Lou Who.

    You are a blessing!