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Friday, 4 July 2014

Pets 'n' Stuff | The Fine Line Between Grief & Fear

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."
C. S. Lewis

I wanted to write about this as soon as it happened, but since I already had an entry under way and it was long enough I didn't want to add this on like an afterthought. I probably had one of my worst, if not my worst experience ever on Tuesday (01/07/14). 

In my slumber I could hear a commotion, but I wasn't sure if it was real or somewhere in my dream. Suddenly I was being woken up and my mum was there and she said something that hit me like a ton of bricks. I'll never forget how I felt when she blurted out through tears,

"Effy's been killed on the road."

For those of you that don't know, Effy is my cat. Now to those of you who aren't particularly animal lovers this all might seem a little dramatic. However I am sure some of you, if not most of you will understand to some degree. And if you don't, let me put it this way. I can't have children and I accepted that quite a while ago. People often tell me 'sure you can use a surrogate' but I know deep down even if that was something I wanted, I don't want to be responsible for a child when I can't even physically look after myself. Even when it comes to my pets I find it hard relying on other people when I want to be looking after them myself. Anyway, my point is since I can't have children my pets are like my furry kids. There is no way I could accept not being a mother if I didn't have them and I wouldn't be the happy and positive person I am without them either. I need them.

I've never felt anything close to how I felt when mum told me Effy was dead. I've had my fair share of relatives pass in my life time and yet I'd never felt this. It was panic, fear, pain and disbelief. I have never cried like I did then. My pain just flooded out in sobs and wails. Yes wails. I didn't even know I had it in me to cry like that. It was like something from a movie, a movie where I might accuse an actor of over acting. I've never felt so little control over how my emotions made me act physically. 

My mum explained that our neighbour had come to the door and said that a cat had been knocked down a few doors down from us and she thought it was Effy. Before waking my sister or I she went to check if it was Effy and because there was some similar distinguishing features she agreed it was Effy and came back to wake Eva and I while our neighbour picked the cat up in a box to bring to our house. 

I had so many thoughts racing through my mind. Firstly I needed to know where she was, I needed her brought home. I didn't want her staying one more minute on the curb. Secondly I felt guilty. I felt like since I'd got Edwin I'd barely seen Effy and as silly as it sounds I felt like maybe Effy had died feeling neglected or like I didn't care. Also I'd felt a little stressed lately by the fact I have so many pets and I'm afraid I won't be able to afford to look after them when I move out. I'm also afraid that when I try and move Findlay and Effy one or both might run away like my cat Muffin did. Although I wouldn't change having Findlay and Effy for the world, I kinda felt how much easier it would be if I didn't have cats. All those thoughts came flooding back to me and I felt like I was being punished for them. I kept saying 'why Effy, why Effy?' because it just didn't make any sense. We live beside a main road and my male cat Findlay is known for going back and forth, but I've never seen Effy out by the road. She doesn't tend to go far. If this day was ever going to come I had always imagined it would be Findlay. I also felt anger that someone would just hit her and leave her on the side of the road. I didn't want to think of her being all by herself there, especially for any length of time. 

When Ruth our neighbour finally brought her round into our back garden in a cardboard box, my mum went to check again and came back into the house and gave us our first bit of hope. She said, "I'm not sure it's her..." My first reaction was to tell her not to say it, because I didn't want any false hope. I said if she thought it was her at first then it probably was. We were all in such a state. My mum, my sister and I were in floods of tears. Eva then went out to check and she said the same thing, she wasn't sure. Now this probably seems a bit ridiculous. You would think you would know right away if it was your cat, but even I couldn't say for sure. It's not that she was particularly damaged or anything. It seemed her face took the brunt of the accident. Her eye was hanging out of it's socket, but her body was intact. We were just so caught up in grief none of us wanted to say it wasn't her in case we were just in denial. I noted a lot of her distinguishing features were the same. She had the same pink on her nose, white whisker and sandy paw, but they were all slightly different too. And her overall coat was lighter, but in that moment I just couldn't believe that it wasn't her. By this time my dad arrived home from work as my mum had called him. It was only about 9am. I sat and watched as he lifted the limp body from the box to check. Blood spilled from her eye, I never seen blood spill like that or that much. It was weird seeing how soft and limp she was. It really had just happened and I thanked goodness she hadn't been left on the curb long, no matter who it was. Then my dad said it "that's not Effy" with complete certainty in his tone. Admittedly I still couldn't believe it 100%, I wouldn't believe it until I seen Effy alive and well with my own eyes. 

Once we knew it wasn't Effy, we knew who she was and my dad went to notify the owner. It made more sense now as she was actually found just outside their house. While he was gone we started calling Effy and sure enough five minutes later she wandered up the garden, completely oblivious we'd been mourning the loss of her not 15 minutes before. I felt a complete weight lifted off my heart and it felt like a surreal blessing that she was there standing in front of me. It was like being woken up from a vivid nightmare. Seeing Effy now and thinking back to the cat my dad had lifted out of the box it seemed so obvious it wasn't her, but in that state of distress I could barely remember what Effy looked like. It was like my mind wouldn't let me because I needed to believe it was her or else I wouldn't be able to handle it if I thought there was any slight chance it wasn't and it turned out it was. 

We were right and the cat had belonged to someone who lived across the road. The same woman who had owned a Jack Russell my sister witness be knocked down a couple of years ago. The driver had hit the dog and kept driving. Sadly the Jack Russell later had to be put to sleep. She came over and identified the cat right away. Her name was Tria and she was only a year old. To make things worse the woman didn't seem all that upset. She said, "It wouldn't be so bad only she belongs to my granddaughter. We've only had her a year, so it's not like we've had her a long time. We only got her to catch the mice out the back." She seemed like a lovely woman and all and after she took Tria home she came back to see our puppies, but it was hard having a light hearted conversation with her after what had happened. Especially with the contrast between how she reacted and how we had when we thought it was Effy. In a weird way I was glad I had thought it was Effy for that small while, because even though I thought she was Effy I was still glad someone had grieved for poor Tria. It also helped remind me how lucky I am to have Effy and the rest of my pets and how much I need and love them. 

After the woman left it all felt so surreal. The whole day we couldn't believe what had happened. I kept reliving it over and over. I couldn't get out of my head how it had felt thinking she was gone and how blessed I felt that she was still with us. Every time I saw her, and even now I get this swelling in my chest. Still, there's also the fear of how I felt and I never want to feel that again for a long time. 

My beautiful Ethel

After that traumatic start to the day, the day got a lot better. It was the day Edwin was officially allowed to go outside, so we got him all suited up in his harness. He had a small taste of outside the back door before he almost wriggled out of his harness, even though I had modified it with my sewing skills to make it smaller. I guess one of the joys of owning a Chihuahua is that nothing fits them as a puppy. At least nothing made for puppies. 

Eva and I then decided to walk to a local pet store and see if we could get him a smaller harness. I had read people had found ferret or kitten harnesses pretty good. It was such a warm day. Eva thought it was the hottest this year so far. We found some rabbit harnesses that we thought would do the trick and bought a couple of other things too, including a new collar for Edwin since his puppy collar was also too big. I found him a cute little kitten collar. Earlier in the day I had texted my aunt Karen to see if she wanted to visit since she's not seen Eva much since she started her job. While we were at Jollyes she replied and invited us to a BBQ at my granny's house. We gladly accepted and we weren't long home before she came to pick us up. We had fitted Edwin and Berty with their new spiffy harnesses and she let us bring them to the BBQ. It was fun having Edwin out properly for the first time and seeing him play in he grass with his cousin's Berty, Lily and Maisy. It was a nice family evening. 

Photos of Edwin on his first day allowed out!
They grow up so fast. :'(

On Wednesday Edwin and I attended a Puppy Party at the vet practice that Edwin is registered with. I wasn't sure what to expect and my mum took me along. Eva was supposed to come along with Berty, but she had to work. It was different than I expected, but it was a good night. It was very informative and the vet nurses took all the puppies in to a little area to play while they gave us a talk. There was only three other puppies, a Labrador, a Maltese and little Jack Russell cross. There was a funny story behind the Jack Russell cross. Her name was Minnie and her owners husband had bought her as a surprise and he had thought he was buying a Chihuahua. It was only when he got her home and gave his wife her present and she said 'Oh you got me a Jack Russell!' he realised. He replied to her, 'no it's a Chihuahua' and said was like, '...No, that's a Jack Russell.' Basically they'd been conned by one of the many back yard breeders on Gumtree. The puppy they'd got wasn't even the one pictured in the add. Still, Minnie was beautiful. They kept saying to her in reference to Edwin 'this is what you're supposed to look like'. Apparently in the play area Edwin had taken quite a shine to her and they stuck together. I can't wait to see the photos! They post them up on the vet practice's Facebook page. 

So yeah, it was quite an eventful week. You can see why I haven't had much time to write. I also had another vet appointment with my Labrador, Baby. She got her vaccinations and finally at the old age of 7 she finally got microchipped! I know, bad owner that we left it so long. She was so brave. The vet said she's overall in good health, but she needs to get some of her weight off. I already knew that and we've been trying, but I'm switching her over to healthier food so hopefully that will help. Gosh, it's tough work being a mummy to fuzz balls! 

My sister is coming home from London tomorrow, so I'm going to be busy for the next week. Her boyfriend is arriving on the 10th and it will our first time meeting him. Exciting, huh? Also next week is the Twelfth here in Northern Ireland so that's exciting also. Even though I'm not religious, it's still one of my favourite times of year. I guess I just love tradition. Hopefully I'll have plenty to write about. 

Anyway, until next time. 

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