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.

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

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