Tag Archives: Grief

A discommoding event

The impact of the 80-year-old man’s truck with my 4,600-pound Audi Allroad was other-worldly. My husband focused his evasive maneuvers so that the inevitable impact would be with our right rear quarter panel, instead of my door. The maneuver was successful. Then the impact spun the rear end of our station wagon into a high curb. I screamed at both impacts. Neither injury nor death entered my mind; my entire being was focused only on the horrible spinning, which likely lasted less than a few seconds, that needed to stop.

The 80-year-old man told both me and the deputy sheriff who rushed to the scene that he didn’t see the stop sign. The stop sign enjoys unimpaired visibility at the intersection of one of the city’s quietest streets and the arterial connecting the city limits with the rural county sector, where more people live than live in the city.

When everything stopped, we got out to see the damage. If my passenger door had received the impact instead of the quarter panel behind me. . .I didn’t want to think about the consequences of the outcome my husband skillfully averted, and I still don’t.

My car’s rear frame was almost certainly twisted, given the torqued rear-passenger wheel, but we’ll know for certain Monday or soon after, when our auto body expert assesses the damage. A twisted frame will nearly always invoke the “T” word: T as in Total. This is not a word I ever expected to hear in reference to my beautiful Grünhilde. I expected to grow older than this together. But I am surely thankful for God’s mercy to me.

The Sheriff’s deputy cited the 80-year-old man with failure to yield right of way and failure to obey a traffic control device. A wonderful couple who had been behind the cited driver approached the deputy and my husband and me and gave us their names, addresses, and phone numbers, and assured us they had seen the collision and that they would most certainly be available as witnesses. I was so touched by their kind approach and their diligent sense of duty that I hugged the woman.

The deputy gave us a ride home. Before anything else, I greeted our cat Effie, who was stretched out on the bed awaiting a tummy rub. Then I said through welling tears, “Effie, praise God we still have you!”

We called our insurer’s claims department and gave the details, and then took my husband’s truck to complete our original Walmart mission, and picked up my rental car.

I hope Grünie can be restored to her high-functioning, well-maintained, beautiful self. If that is not to be, I hope she has a doppelgänger somewhere not very far off, with my name on it.

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Tuesday windows

Given the blessing of structuring my own time for the most part, I suppose it satisfies my sense of order and need for self-discipline to maintain a routine, with particular household tasks assigned to particular days of the week. My task assignment logic accommodates my limited energy. So far, I have kept my current routine ever since we completed the remodeling and organization of our current home, six months after moving in five years ago.

Tuesdays I clean the inside glass and tracks and inside frames of all the windows in our house, and wipe down all upholstered chairs and the kitty hammock. The window-mounted hammock was Coolidge’s perch of choice for 13 of his 17 years. It replaced the custom bay window we made for him when we replaced all the windows in the house where we were living when we adopted Coolidge as a kitten. When we moved four years later, I saw the hammock in a catalogue for about $500 less than a custom bay window. Its fleece cradle was also softer.

For the final weeks of his life, Coolidge was too weak to jump into his hammock, and I didn’t lift him into it because I was afraid he would hurt himself trying to jump out. He no longer jumped onto window sills, or anything off the floor at all. He preferred a blanket or towel on the floor. I continued to wipe down the windows every Tuesday, even though there were no longer nose prints to wipe off.

Coolidge lived and died with his sense of autonomy for the most part intact. In his final days, I had to syringe food, and finally only water, into his mouth. I still feel the presence of crushed heart shards that seem beyond repair.

The hammock is now Effie’s. Effie is young and active, outgoing and playful; she has boundless energy and loves the outdoors that Coolidge emphatically shunned. She monitors the grounds from every window sill in the house, as well as her hammock.

A sense of purpose is restored to my Tuesday windows routine. Not only do I share play time with Effie as she pursues her white mouse toy suspended about my wrist as I clean, but once again, nose prints present themselves for wiping from the glass, and tiny toe prints for wiping from the sills, because she muddied her dainty paws a bit when I took her out in the garden. Effie is also an ace fly assassin, adding organic residue to routine nose and paw prints. Fly matter is removed upon first appearance; some things don’t wait for the Tuesday routine.

The seemingly trivial is not always trivial. A sense of purpose elevates the trivial to the purposeful. Since purpose is a human imperative, and life can too easily be trivialized, I find Effie’s nose prints on our windows at least as significant, for instance, as Descartes’ Causal Adequacy Principle.

Young Coolidge

Young Coolidge

Effie

Effie

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Unwished-for inevitabilities

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I don’t like it, I don’t want to concede to its reality. But there it is, the rough beast slouching, crouching, armored with the manifest covenant threat.

My precious cat’s survival has been pulled out of so many hats, and now symptoms of mortality leech through some imaginary vanguard.

He’s had lungworm, a broken hock, diabetes, hepatic lipidosis, hyperthyroid–and our tough cat brawls his way to his 17th miraculous year. He’s tired. He isn’t hungry. He throws up clear liquid and white foam. I hand feed him half a bag of treats. Blast the torpedoes; I can chase his glucose with insulin, at least to a point. There’s no way to chase starvation except with something he’ll eat.

When Coolidge was eight, he nearly martyred himself when we had to convert him from high-carb kibbles to wet food. That’s how he got hepatic lipidosis, and its resolution was a feeding tube. Six belly snacks a day, ground in a food processor and hand syringed into the tube. Coolidge yanked his tube out so many times, and my husband, a former farmer/rancher, stitched it back in each time so we could quit going to the veterinary ER.

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Now he wants his kibbles back, and he’s right to. He’s been losing three to four ounces a week. The dry, higher-carb food that once conspired to join forces with probably genetic factors and precipitate his diabetes, should now help him regain some safety-margin weight. And the tasty food should also help our pessimistic vet reverse her countdown mentality, and recall that our cat is a fighter. Her life-expectancy algorithm can jolly apply elsewhere.

I’m really not given over to magical thinking. I know the hairs, scales, skin cells, or whatever covers the heads of the creatures of God’s wondrous creation, are numbered, as are our days. But I don’t know how much knowing this reduces the other inevitability of life: grief.

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