There are certain things we can't prepare for, no matter how hard we try.
I was on the F train on my way to volunteer when I got an email with no message, but an alarming subject line."This is an emergency about Lavi - call ## - EOM." I really wanted to continue with my evening and ignore the message because I knew it couldn't be good. Not to mention, I had plans with friends to celebrate my recent engagement.
But I knew better. My heart was heavy and fingers were shaking as I called the number. I stood against a wall at the Rockefeller Center subway station and tried to ignore reality as I watched hurried commuters pass by.
Lavi-cat was in critical condition.
Tears started pouring down my face and I found myself walking towards the hospital.I called a friend and started sobbing, "Lavi is going to die. Lavi is going to die and I am a terrible cat mother."
You see, Lavi and I moved to New York City almost 8 years ago. I still remember stopping in Illinois to get her a cat tranquilizer because she would not. stop. meowing. At the time, I was newly in love and the world was my oyster. I thought that my life was going to be perfect. That my move was an "arrival point" to never-ending happiness.
How quickly I learned.
We lived with a 65-year old woman who made the cat her new best friend. She would leave letters on the door with stories about kitty. How they "filed taxes together" and how cute it was when kitty hid her toys. The stories were endless and wonderful.You can imagine how painful it was for her when I told her that I was moving out because my first love and I were breaking up.
Moving three times in a month did not bode well for my Lavi-cat and she did not like her new roommates. She was clear about her feelings by pissing all over the place in every apartment."It's behavioral," the vet would tell me after many expensive (and unaffordable) bills.
After 6 months I decided to return Lavi where she belonged. With her friend to file taxes and hide toys. She immediately stopped pissing and lived like a Queen.
I would visit regularly for "kitty spa" (nail-trimmings) and a catch up.
During that time, I also moved in with my best friend and we got two new cats. Life was good, but life was also busy. The visits became less frequent and it took me months to get there again.
It was a cold run/walk to the animal hospital on East End while I sobbed on the phone. I felt horrible for not getting to her sooner, for not taking her to the vet more often."Upstairs to the emergency room", the receptionist pointed. My tears must have been an instant giveaway.
We ended up sitting with kitty for a couple of hours. She was on an IV and did her best to walk around to each of our laps, but she could hardly stand. We had a lot of back and forth on what to do, but I made the decision to put her to sleep. The actual procedure took about 3 minutes and it was horrible to watch. We were sobbing.
There was a moment when I thought I saw a flash of fear in Lavi's eyes, and I briefly second guessed the whole thing. But deep down, I knew it was the right thing to do.
It's been a little over a month since this happened, but it was one of those "life moments" worthy of reflection.
Lavi's death was sad, but it also symbolized closing a chapter in my life. I've grown so much over the past 8 years. While I still struggle with loss and change, I realize it can't be avoided.Because these things happen - life and loss and change.
Losing my mother at a young age made death just a thing. I would talk about it like it were a smallthing - a regular growing pain.But losing a parent/loved one is a traumatic thing, no matter the age.
The older I get, the more I realize the weight of loss. Death happens, but life doesn't stop. Even though it may feel like it.
We can't prepare for these things.You just have to trust that you'll know what to do and how to cope. That all your experiences make you wiser and stronger than you realize.
And you'll surprise yourself with your ability to carry on.