Saturday, April 2, 2011

In the house of bitter and sweet

I'm currently reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, hence the title of tonight's posting.  I normally wait until I'm finished writing to title, because I never know what may transpire as I ramble on.  I tell my students to do the same thing...'don't write the title first, wait until you see what comes from your writing'.  Well, tonight, I'm doing what most of my students do: nod and smile at the instruction, then go ahead and put the title at the top of the page :)  Let's hope I keep my thoughts on track!

My day began really early.  Really early.  Like, 3:15 a.m. early.  (Thank you, 'baby giraffe').  I tried falling back asleep, but aside from my mind swirling with four thousand things, Diego decided my tossing and turning was his open invitation to cuddle up against me (i.e. bite me when I pet him, scratch me when he stretched out, and meow loudly when he wanted pet again).  Randy was sleeping soundly (loudly), so I decided I might as well get up and try to cross off a few to-do's that we were keeping me from falling back into dreamland, rather than wake him with my fideting/fighting-with-the-cat self.

Down on the couch, I settled in with my drama club materials to organize my thoughts, as our production of Cinderella is this coming week.  Enter Diego.  He purred and wound his gray body around my ankles, then joined me on the couch to spend some time together.  Adorable, right?

Almost.  See, Diego and I never quite 'hit it off' in the way I had hoped we would.  I grew up with a great cat, whose personality totally clicked with our family.  I assumed that if we did the same type of things with Diego, he would fit in seamlessly into our family circus.  Lesson learned: not all cats are created equal.  Plus, our busy and loud household is a far cry from the teenage haven that existed when we adopted my childhood family cat, Tyson.  My brothers and I weren't home often, didn't pull on her tail, put her in 'jail', chase her around the house with dart get the idea.  Tyson had a peaceful existence.

In our house, however, as time went on, we realized that Diego required far more one-on-one attention than we (I) had the capacity to provide.  He proved to be far too curious, far too ornery, far too playful (not in a friendly way, either) for our family.  He'd randomly jump onto the kids' backs as they sat and played with blocks or trains.  He gave the poor dogs a run for their money and would jump onto them, sinking his teeth and claws into their neck as though he were a lion taking down its prey (thank goodness the pugs have a few extra rolls on their neck to spare).  He would hide under Brynn's bed and then after I closed her door for the night, would hop up on her bed and sit on her head, waking her in a most traumatic way.  And his most recent venture was into the nursery closet, where he discovered a bag of baby bottles for what he assumed was his own personal enjoyment.  As a result, I now I have to purchase an entire new set of bottle nipples for 'baby giraffe' thanks to the puncture wounds and holes he *lovingly* gnawed into each one.

So, you can see the dilemma we were facing, knowing that in a few weeks, we will have a newborn sleeping in the very crib where Diego scopes out his afternoon napping spot.  We will have a baby whose binkie will be fodder for a cat who views our home as his own personal amusement park.  We will have 3 children, 2 dogs, and 1 cat...all running around, fighting, eating, yelling, get the idea.  We will be overwhelmed. 

While cats are pretty low maintenance animals, the nervousness I felt about what his response to this crying, squirming, delicate little munchkin trumped the ease of taking care of a pretty self-sufficient creature (we're in short supply of those in our household!).  Thus, the decision was made: Diego had to go. 

I have a heart.  Let me just put that out there.  As frustrated as the cat made me with each bottle nipple he chewed, each scratch he caused us, each random toy he'd bat around the tile floor at 2:00 in the morning...he was still our family member, is still a living creature.  My heart couldn't bear to watch him drive off in another person's car, because he really does have a sweet little part of his otherwise abrasive personality (we'd usually observe this after the kids went to bed, and he'd join us on the couch for some affection.  So, I asked Randy to take care of doing the search for me, and he thankfully took on the task.

Randy found a family to adopt him, and this morning was the morning he'd leave our home and become another family's pet.  I kept thinking, as I sat at the computer, doing work at 4:00 a.m., that it's as if he knew.  He sensed it and was either trying to change my mind last minute, or, most likely, say goodbye.

I came home from work, saw his bowl, the last of his food (why Randy didn't take that to the guy I'll never know), and his toy (again, why we kept it is beyond me).  Brynn called for him (slightly out of character, as she--and Gavin--had a love/less-love relationship with him).  I realized he was gone.  And I started sobbing.  Blame it on the hormones, the stress, the delirium that was beginning to set in from my ridiculously early wake up call.  Or blame it on the fact that while I know we made the right decision for our family, I was sad because we had to make the choice.  I was sad because I felt like we failed him as owners, as family.  I was sad because I opened my email and Randy had sent me a video of Diego, meowing as he nervously sat in the front seat of the truck, awaiting a fate that, to him, was uncertain and confusing.  Bitter.

But, I know that time will pass, I will get past my little pangs of guilt and know that we ultimately made a decision that is best for our family, best for what was our kitty, best for the family with whom he now lives...because they'll be able to give him the extra bit of attention that he so desperately tried to seek out in the midst of the chaos of our household.  He'll have a good life, and we'll have a scratch-free, bite-free, traumatic-wake-up-call-free, hole-in-the-bottle-nipple-free life.  Sweet.

We only had Deigo for a little under two years, but he'll always be an honorary part of our family.  There's a quote that I highlighted in Hotel on the Corner that kind of goes along with what my day was like...

It reminded him that time was short, but that beautiful endings could still be found at the end of cold, dreary days.  (ok, so we didn't have a cold, dreary day in Denver was actually mid-70's...but work with the metaphor here!)

Our time with him was short...but at the end of the day, I know Deigo is happy and well-taken care of.
Farewell,'ll always be remembered...(both in a positive and negative light, but still remembered!)

frightened kitty on his first day home

from the beginning...we should have seen the devilsh features

Brynn loves her kitty...he 'kind of' returned the feeling

our last picture of Diego...April 1st, 2011

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