I had a terrible experience this week. I wasn't able to write about it before - waaaaaay too upsetting. I was cat and turtle sitting for about 10 days for a family that was taking an Alaskan cruise. The cat died. Its name was Tickle and I found it in the corner of the guest room in their basement on Monday. It was awful.
Here's what happened. I was told to come by once or twice while they were gone. There was lots of food out and water too, so the cat wouldn't really ever run out. And there was a good chance I'd never see the cat because it was a cat and sometimes they don't want to interact. I came by every other day or two. On the first visit I never saw the cat. It didn't seem to have eaten much, but since there was so much food, it was hard to gauge for sure. The next time I went, the food consumption still seemed a little low, so I wanted to make sure I saw the cat to confirm it was okay. I found it in the master bathroom behind the door. It seemed fine, kind of like I'd woken it from a nap, so I gave it a little scratch on its back and left feeling all was well. Before I left I smoothed out the food in all its bowls so I could tell exactly how much it was really eating and eliminate that confusion. I came back after a couple days and it was dead.
Trauma makes for some bizarre situations. Because I couldn't reach the family right away, I needed to do something with Tickle until I heard back from them. At one point, after finding the cat, I was standing in their guest bathroom holding a Minnesota Vikings towel, knowing the father is a fan, and actually thinking to myself, "Would this be good to wrap the cat in?" Then having to search the owner's house for Duck Tape because, while placing the towel wrapped cat and 20 lbs. of ice in a styrofoam cooler that was last used at JD's 6th grade Field Day, one entire side of the cooler split in half. I have a delayed response to shocking experiences which is great if I'm to be depended on to help during high stress events, but terrible for whomever has to sit next to me on the couch two days later while I cry and relive every moment and analyze every decision I've made during the crisis (thank you, Geoff).
Looking back I see I could have noticed some things. And hindsight is a bitch because once you have come through an experience, you know more, you know differently. Except you're judging your former self based upon what your current (more informed) self knows. Now I know that cats don't show any facial expressions when they don't feel well. I've never had a cat, only dogs, and our animals have all been extremely dramatic when in pain using panting, whining, and terrified eyes to tell you they are not okay. I shouldn't have taken the cat's expression as a sign that all was well. Also, I didn't know to ask where the cat usually stayed. If I had known the bathroom was not it's special place, I would have seen this was a sign that something was different. I just assumed this is where the cat liked to spend time.
I have come to accept that I did the best I could. At the time. Based upon who I was and what I knew, I did the best I could. Now, I'd handle myself differently. But that's now. And we can't go back in time.
I always tell the kids, nothing is a mistake if you can learn something from it and use that new knowledge to improve yourself. I feel like this event is a lesson to me that even though I'm working to be "present" in each moment, I need to try to bring some quality to that presence. It's not just about "being in the moment", but rather being our best in the moment that counts. And I may never pet sit again, but if I do, I'll ask all sorts of questions and I'll come every day regardless. It's the best way.
And I'm working on forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves can be so much harder than forgiving anyone else.
I am so sorry for the family's loss. I'm so sorry the cat was alone when it died. I'm so sorry I didn't understand that it was very sick. I will never forget this experience. Ever.
Considering the theme of this post, it seems weird to share what I'm wearing. Suffice it to say my fashion choice today is based upon whatever is clean and will cover up the weird bruise on my upper arm. Tres chic.
gratitude: Brene Brown, nice employees at the Vans store, laughing with Geoff, good night kisses from the kids even when they come home at midnight
thanks and love.