Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Broken headstone in the Alamo Cemetery, Danville, California

Broken headstone in the Alamo Cemetery, Danville, California

This headstone caught my eye on Saturday as I toured the Alamo Cemetery.

Last week was a rough one, as I dealt with the collapse of my cat Morpheus’s health.  At 17 months old, he’d developed crystals in his bladder — after suffering all his young life with an immune disease that had attacked his teeth in February.  I left the Mare Island Cemetery a week ago Saturday to take him in for emergency surgery.  By Friday morning, he’d relapsed.

In the midst of Friday morning’s rainstorm, I took Morpheus to the SPCA and asked them to take him back.  After a year and a half of emergency vet visits, tiny bags of expensive cat food, and more medicine than I take as a grown woman, I had to face that I could no longer care for him.  I’d lost hope in February that he would ever be well.  Last week, I finally grasped that I was no longer even able to make him comfortable.

Still, the SPCA counselor said that none of his health issues appeared to be life-threatening.  That was the breaking point for me:  if it had been a matter of caring for him through his final illness, I might have been able to stick it out.  This roller-coaster could go on for years.

I’m a travel writer. I have a full schedule of travel ahead of me this summer.  I couldn’t board Morpheus, because his fractured immune system couldn’t handle the vaccines he’d need.  When I went to DC earlier this month, I enlisted a family member to care for him, but after the bladder trouble, he would need closer monitoring.  I’d need to find him a live-in nurse.

I cried through the intake paperwork at the SPCA.  I cried through saying goodbye to him in the SPCA hospital.  I had to sign something saying that I understood that they might have to euthanize him, if he’s not adoptable.  I will never know, though.  My part of Morpheus’s story is over.

When my last cat died at the ripe old age of 17, I had him cremated.  I keep his ashes in a silver sugar bowl on my dresser.  I think I understand now how important it is to have a gravestone or a niche or a sugar bowl on which to focus your grief.  I have nothing of Morpheus left but his favorite toys — and the foolish hope that someone, somewhere, with medical skills and a large disposable income is looking for a project cat to love.

*

This was inspired by this week’s photo challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/letters/

About Loren Rhoads

I am the author of the essay collection Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, co-author of the novel As Above, So Below, and editor of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
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3 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

  1. Kelly says:

    I’m so sorry about your little cat and I’ve cried a lot since reading your story, because I completely understand. We have also been struggling for years to care for a cat with multiple health problems. We know what it’s like to put off traveling unless we can find someone who could “pill” a cat or give subcues and there are times when we wonder if we are truly doing the best thing for him. I think that you did the best thing you could for Morpheus — gave him lots of love and as much care as you could and then admitted when he needed more. He’s in good hands with the SPCA.

    • Loren Rhoads says:

      Thank you, Kelly. This whole process has been such a struggle. I hadn’t had to do subcues yet, although they warned me Morpheus was a candidate for early diabetes, but he had a steroid cream for his ears, two pills, and three liquids every day… and yet he had such a huge purr and liked nothing as much as snuggling. They give us so much love. I hope your cat sends you a strong message, when s/he’s ready. It would be so much easier if they could talk. My heart goes out to you.

  2. cathylass says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Although Morpheus is still on this earth, he’s no longer with you. He will be ok.

    Someone who has the time (and fat wallet!) will come along, and he will be ok. So will you, it will take a bit of time, but you’ll be ok.

    I nearly rehomed my tomcat a few years back. Due to work he had to move away from our house, and live in a flat in the city. Our tomcat didn’t adjust to inside only life, and he was miserable. I battled for a year with my head and my heart, let him go and be happy, or keep him beacuse I love him… and he would be miserable.

    It was like knowing someone where to die… he would be gone from my life forever… I felt so incredibly guilty, my love for him was forcing him to be unhappy, and in the end my love for him was willing to mourn the loss (as he would be gone from my life), so he could be in a better place.

    However, due to a complete and utter balls-up with the letting agency that was letting out our house for us, while we were living in a flat (we had to have a survey done on the house, due to changing mortgage providers… the letting agency somehow interpited this as us selling the house and chucked out the tenant! We were only notified the day before the tenant left!), we suddenly got our house back, and for 6 months (after that we moved back permanently) we went to our house on the weekends so my tomcat could go outside. Inside during the week – and outside during the weekends did the trick… and I got to keep my boy in my life down to a balls-up. :D

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