|Christmas Tree 2019|
This Christmas has been an interesting one.
I found myself being a Hospice nurse to my sweet, beautiful cat Bella until the day she passed away on December 13th and then a new mom, to the cutest little baby boy, who I named Nicholas for St. Nick , a week afterwards.
I had thought this year would be filled with days of cookie baking, my best year decorating yet and wrapping all the gifts with pretty ribbons and bows, handmade with each family member and friend in mind .
It didn't quite go as I had planned and I really did try to plan this year out a little better than years past.
I had taken the first week of December off to get the house decorated and send out my Christmas cards so that , for once, I could be ahead of the game and perhaps be that "Martha , want-to-be" that I had always dreamed of.
Instead, I spent that week, administering homeopathic remedies all throughout the day, and sitting in the living room with Bella reading a book just so I could be near her. I spent most nights on the couch because she didn't want to make it upstairs. And one night I slept on the floor because she wanted to sleep in the center of the couch.
I couldn't think too much about Christmas. Hoping and praying for healing and more time with my beloved Bella was all I cared about.
The days until Christmas were counting down despite my nursing duties with my cat. At least I had gotten the tree , fresh from a friends farm the weekend after Thanksgiving and the lights were on with some decorations.
As I sat with Bella and watched her go from chair to chair in the living room, restless sleep, trying to get comfortable, I wondered if anything I was doing was helping her. The fluid in her tummy would build up, I would get it drained, my amazing boyfriend and niece would come over and help give her sub q fluids to hydrate her and the cycle would begin all over again. The first few times she seemed to get better .
The last round of fluid draining and sub q fluids, she didn't quite bounce back. My heart was aching as each day passed, we lost her brother such a short time ago. We only had a few brief months together, when Bailey passed away. Finally, my attention was all on her, we could play and snuggle without me always having to attend to Bailey. I loved those few months - she just loved to play and lay with me on the couch. She christened the new living room furniture with her scent and posed for pictures like the perfect Halloween cat.
The decision to euthanize an animal is never an easy one. When is it time? Who are we to make this decision for them? Is there anything else that will work? Your heart cried out inside knowing that the end is near . All I could do was give her homeopathic pain remedies.
I wanted Bella to die at home with me. Peacefully, surrounded by all that was familiar. Bailey had to go to the vet in his final hour, as he had been slipping away all through the night. I knew at 3am when I awoke from a sound sleep on the couch next to Bailey, that he was dying. I am convinced my mother woke me up to tend to him in his final hours. I lit a candle and put on some peaceful, meditative music and talked to Bailey telling him how much I loved him and how grateful I was for all that he had taught me. Somehow, my heart and soul surrendered to a peaceful state, so I could be that way for him. I talked with him for four hours until the vet office opened. I wrapped him in his favorite blanket and we took our last ride to the vet.
Bailey was stronger than Bella, and I knew she needed something different. She would be frightened at the vets, I didn't want that for her or me.
So, I called Paws in Your Heart and talked with Dr. Dunne. She has the most calming, comforting voice. We scheduled the euthanasia for 6:30pm so my boyfriend and niece could be there with me to say goodbye . We all helped care for Bella in her dying days.
Bella rested all day in my bedroom not really wanting to be around anyone. She came downstairs twice to eat some ham from the deli, which she loved and then went right back upstairs to rest. I laid down with her as many times as I could trying not to cry. Hoping I was making the right decision.
And so 6:30pm came. Dr. Dunne quietly sat near the sparkling Christmas tree while I held Bella. The tree sparkled with it's white lights and Bella passed in my arms. I still don't know if it was the right time. I still cry for both Bailey and Bella. We were together for 14 years. Dr. Dunne wrapped Bella in her favorite blanket and put her in a basket. She looked so peaceful. Goodbye my sweet little girl. I tried everything I knew how. I kissed her one last time as Dr. Dunne carried Bella away.
The grief that followed that day was so heavy and so lonely. I haven't been without a cat in my house since I was 30 years old. The physical energy presence of Bailey and Bella no longer around was deafening. It was unbearable.
I got up , went to work and thankfully Christmas called my attention , knowing there were more gifts to buy, a holiday meal to plan for and an Airbnb guest to arrive. The house decorations needed to be completed. So despite my grief , I carried on. I went to get my salad at my usual place, Soup Herb in Williamsville and the new Healthy Pet Store sponsored by the SPCA is right next door. I desperately wanted to see if there were any cats there, so at least I could pet them and feel once again, connected to an animal. The intellectual side of me told me to stay away, but my heart and soul called me to the store.
And there was "Hal", a tiny black kitten so adorable and friendly! He came up and said hello and was talking and sticking his paws out to greet me. The store employees all loved him. I stayed for awhile and needed to get back to work.
The next day I went back.
I needed to . I needed the connection.
It was helping me not feel so sad.
And "Hal" was still there.
And on December 19th, "Hal" came home with me. I called my niece , Lisa and asked her if she would go get him with me. She was so sweet, agreeing to do this despite her suggestion to wait awhile to let myself have some time and space from being a pet owner.
"Hal" bounced all over my bed that night. Not able to sleep as he had been in a cage most the day.
So, neither of us slept.
My bedroom became "Hal's" safe place with toys, a litter box and yummy food and treats.
We started to play together each day and his little squeaky voice was so adorable .
I went through a few names with my niece and within a few days, "Hal" became Nicholas. So fitting at Christmas time. He was my Christmas gift to heal my grieving heart.
Nicholas has now graduated from my bedroom to my office, to the living room and he finally discovered the Christmas tree! He hasn't climbed it, but he has knocked an ornament off and wants to play with the lights.
He is a growing little boy who wants to eat all the time. His little face and cuteness grabbed the heart of my Airbnb guest and friend, Rob the day after Christmas when the two of them were sound asleep in the chair near the fireplace. Nicholas nestled in Rob's arms for two hours.
He sits beside me now as I write this piece . He has heard and felt my tears of grief over Bailey and Bella as I wrote this piece. He didn't quite know what to do. He is my little companion, my little Christmas gift wrapped up in a furry little body of less than three pounds. His toys are in every room and he requires much of my attention to keep him out of harms way.
Maybe it was too soon after Bella died, probably. But it's ok, because I do believe that there is a bigger spiritual picture to our lives. I do believe that both Bailey and Bella knew that Nicholas would come to their house after they had passed.
From Hospice nurse to caring for a toddler. Grief, sadness, hope and joy all mixed together. Here is hoping we all find a little joy amidst the grief that life sometimes hands us. I know I did and his name is Nicholas.