Saturday, October 06, 2007

Champagne, Opera and A Pussy In A Box

Yesterday I spent a lovely morning with Dreadfullgirl watching mindless morning TV and eating scrambled eggs and over-caffeinating myself with instant coffee. Headed into Haymarket to visit a cheapie travel agent MO'M had recommended(which sadly didn't turn out to be any cheaper than my usual one). Had a delicious, still-warm from the oven custard bun from a tiny shop in a Chinatown arcade, and wandered happily through the markets. It was a nice sunny day. I was about to jump on a bus to Circular Quay with a plan to spend a few hours immersed in art at the MCA, when the phonecall came...

Aunty C has just finished her radiation therapy and the whole cancer-monster seems to be gone. During the course of her chemo she somehow ended up with a cat, Derek, a sociable and playful little creature who kept her company through all those days at home alone. Then about a month ago D was bowled by a car, instant kill, buried underneath the lillies. Soon she had TWO new cats, rescued from some shelter or another. Skittish, and shy, they hung out under the couch together and snuck about cautiously whenever strangers were around. Then a couple of days ago Aunty C rang saying that one of them, Alfa (short for Alfafa of course) had cancer. Bugger. The phonecall yesterday afternoon was asking me to come down to the animal hospital as they were going to euthanase him (Turned out not to be cancer, but some virus. Either way, he was going down.) Well, one can hardly say no to such an invitation, so I found myself patting AC's head and taking last photos and waiting for the vet to come back in with The Green Needle. Now, apparently this overdose of anaesthetics is USUALLY quite a peaceful way to go, just drifting off to sleep. Hmm. 'There is a chance he'll take a couple of deep breaths after he's gone' says the vet. Green fluid flows through the canula- Alfa yelps, jumps about, yelps more. He's not happy, or he's scared, or he's in pain, or perhaps its just a reflex reaction and he's not feeling or comprehending much/anything at all? Second vial, something clear- Alfa yelps, settles, stops. Eyes open, limp. (When I was a young and angsty gothling teenager I had a morbid fascination/fear of damp dead kittens, lukewarm, fur slipping over lifeless muscle and bone. And a mild obsession with the fear of grey furry moths flying into my mouth, but I digress).

We caught a cab home with Alfa covered up in his wire cat basket. Aunty C put him in a box lined with tissue paper, covered him in flowers and perfume and encouraged the other cat to have a look and a sniff so she could work out why her playmate wasn't there anymore. People came over, we drank Japanese beer and French champagne and ate blue cheese and listened to opera. Odd vibe to the evening, but plenty of laughs and good company. Too late and too drunken to be digging up the dirt, so we put him in the fridge overnight and buried him near Derek this morning.

All of this, well, except for the front-yard burial, reminds me of watching my friend die from cancer last year. The moment when everything stops, when the flesh is still warm to the touch but can't feel the touch... I couldn't bring myself to touch the cat, but I'm glad that last year I did touch my friend after the fact, patted his hair and kissed him goodbye on his forehead, sat with 'him' while we waited for the men with the trolley and the van.

Wow. Just when I think that I have dealt with that I find myself staring blankly at the screen and crying without even realising it. Wow.

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