Happy Things & Empty Things

“It’s just so nice when happy things happen,” Kent tells me on our drive home from a 3-day camping trip with my cousins. During the trip, my cousin’s boyfriend proposed to her, and we had the opportunity to celebrate them- we raised our glasses against the backdrop of a peaceful, canoe-access-only lake. We rode on the high of the trip and its wonderful events for days, reveling in the land of the good, the joyful, and the happy.

And then, we returned home to our reality- which, this time, meant a sick cat. This cat, Victor, came to us through serendipity just two months after Miles died. Our previous cat Laila ran away last summer, amidst the flurry of Miles’ chemotherapy treatments and our countless trips to and from hospitals. With Miles and Laila both gone, we literally had an empty house- no living things left to take care of or to add some life to our quiet home. So, when Victor came to us from Quebec City through a friend’s grandmother, we welcomed him with open arms. It took him awhile to warm up, but he eventually slept on our bed and greeted us at the door each time we returned home- a sweet, good-natured tomcat who fit right in. When Victor didn’t come to the door to greet us when we got home from camping, we knew something was up. After a couple of days of meds weren’t helping following an initial vet visit with a diagnosis of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, we finally took Victor to a 24-hour animal hospital at 11:00pm last night. The hour-long ride down to the hospital felt all too familiar- a mixture of dread, anxiety, and helplessness. We’d been here many times before with Miles.

They took Victor in and shortly afterwards the vet called us with the news- he had a urinary blockage which had already caused significant kidney damage, and the chances of him pulling through were slim. We ultimately had to make the decision to put him to sleep. As we drove back home, an empty cat carrier in the backseat, I couldn’t stop sobbing.
“I know he’s just a cat,” I choked out to Kent. “But it’s more than that”.

And it is more than that. It’s being tired of empty things- houses, cat carriers, cribs and car seats. It’s being utterly sick with the feeling that everything we touch turns to shit. It’s being exhausted at the prospect of starting again- with a new pet, a new child, a new life. It’s feeling defeated and hopeless and angry and weary- so, so weary.

Happy things happen. And so do really, really sad things. I can’t help but feel that disproportionately, really sad things happen to us. I don’t believe in one God, or that everything happens for a reason. If anyone or anything is in charge, though, I hope they can see that I’m close to crying uncle.

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