Thursday, January 04, 2007

My Brave Patient

erm the brave patient
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I'm so sorry to be carrying on like this about this insignificant little animal.

I do know that there are more important losses and traumas in the world. I'm such a cliche of the privileged, neurotic, middle-aged spinster with her cat!

But I do love this critter dearly.

I brought her home the first week I moved to this new church, and she has shared the happiest years of my life, or at least the most contented.

She has been the one I called to when coming through the door at the end of the day, and the one I kissed goodbye when leaving in the morning. I believe that we should say "I love you" many times a day; that it's good for the soul. So I made sure to say it to Erm when I had no one else to appropriately say it to.

Every sermon, article, paper and essay I've authored over the past five years has been the product of our work together: her sleeping on the desk, my typing furiously away. There's a lot of mingling of life force in that. Her lush striped body has been part of the visual background for most of PeaceBang's blog entries.

Her purring is my blood pressure medication.
Her pristine white paws (I call them her debutante's gloves) and deep Egyptian eyes never failed to fill me with jealous admiration, and we once discussed the option of my tattooing my entire body in stripes just to join the tribe. She scoffed at my lack of a tail but loved me anyway.

Her warm body pressed to my side during anxiety attacks has been a silent coaching to breathe, breathe, breathe. It hurts my heart to think that she who has nursed me to health during these attacks is herself having trouble breathing. Did she soak in too much of my breathlessness? Was it somehow contagious? Is there something toxic in this house by which I was poisoning her without knowing it?

She has been my Sabbath and my silence, and the one to whom I could always say, "Don't we have the best life? Aren't we lucky?" She always agreed, busy watching Cat Television (aka watching birds out the window).

When I stopped to eat a sandwich at the kitchen table, she went to her bowl of kibble. I can hardly eat without listening for her accompanying crunching.

This house has been hers for as long as it has been mine. It just feels so wrong without her here.

I visited her for two hours tonight at the hospital. She came into the visiting room wrapped in that afghan and looking wonky-eyed and disoriented. It took her about 20 minutes to fully realize who I was.

She seemed okay, but not great.
An hour into the visit, though, we were into heavy petting, and she purred for me. An hour and a half into it, we were curled up asleep on the floor both dreaming of home. When we woke up after a literal cat nap, she was happy and relaxed and soft-eyed, licking me and purring to beat the band. When she gave me Le Grand Belly Flop onto her side, I knew she was going to be okay no matter what happens.
I told her about all of you and your many prayers and your love, and we did a little review of her life and all the fun times we've had. I talked the special baby talk to her that she loves and she listened very carefully to every word, flexing her paws while I cuddled her. She even forgot for a moment about that stupid bandaged paw of hers with the IV port all taped to it.

The doctors and technicians are treating her like she's on Death Row, so we just don't know yet. She is breathing outside the oxygen chamber, and they've got her on every medication against infection they could think of. If I can get her out of the hospital I'll take her for a second opinion.

Thank you so much to you all.

I don't know why I'm so distraught by this. Perhaps because she's so young. And perhaps because ...

Good Christ. Something just fell off the tree for no reason at all. Ermengarde's not here, so what could have caused THAT??


Blogger Miss Kitty said...

This post has me in tears now. PB, I (and every other reader) are praying for Ermengarde and you. Everyone here, two- and four-legged, sends prayers and healing vibes.

Erm has been your loving friend & companion all these years...there is nothing insignificant about that.

Blogger zorra said...

Telepathic kitty love, obviously. She's telling you to go on to bed, get some sleep (her vibes are obviously there in the house) and come see her tomorrow.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is good to love your cat as much as you can. What a beautiful, smart, easy to love cat she must be!

I hope she lives with you for many, many more years, and you have pleasure in her memory after that.

Anonymous anniesmom said...


Thanks so much for the update. (I must have set a record for hitting the "refresh" button on my browser.)

The news is good--she's breathing on her own, she recognized you, and they're continuing the antibiotics. I really hope you can get a second opinion. Maybe you could contact another vet and relay what you already know?

Weeping over Ermengarde is not something to apologize for, dear PeaceBang. Some of us have wept with you, even as we held our beloved cats this evening.

The prayers will continue, and God will watch over the both of you tonight.

Anonymous Jess said...

Not insignificant one bit.

"Familiars" are important.

Blogger Gillian said...

Sugar and Roxy and I send continuing prayers. May the diagnosis be less threatening than feared, and Erm's recovery be very swift.

Blogger Lizard Eater said...

Nevah, nevah, nevah question yourself for the depth of your love for another creature. Yes, she's a cat. A glorious, wonderful cat. YOUR cat.

Prayers for you both.

Blogger Joel Monka said...

Don't apologize, either- love is NEVER insignificant. A loved one is always worthy of tears, and friend will always want to hear about it.

Blogger Peg said...

Dear PB,

You're right that there are horrific, huge, awful things out in the big world that are happening to untold millions, but I believe that that does not render insignificant the fact that your Erm is sick, and you are hurting just like she is.

From what you've shared with us, Erm in no way sounds to me like an "insignificant little animal." No apologies are necessary for your sharing your struggle at this difficult time. We're all God's creatures, not just those of us with opposable thumbs. She is family, just like your fur-nephew Gordon.

I hope you share more about her with us -- she's beautiful, and I don't just mean her 'paint job.' I'm saying special prayers for the two of you and her caregivers at the vet's.

Anonymous Sean said...

Dear PeaceBang,
The part of this post that made me sad was when you wondered if you were somehow the cause of Erm's illness. I understand the impulse, but the worry itself is baseless and of no use.

She's sick. That happens. What matters is how you are nurturing and loving and caring for her. What matters is that even this sick she can curl up and sleep when you are near.

This companion and the love you have for each other so clearly matters. It is not insignificant, though it may not change the world. But then again, it might change the world, for it has changed you.

I'll keep the two of you in my thoughts and prayers.

Rev. Sean

Blogger Elizabeth said...

I don't think she is an insignificant littel animal - God loves all his creatures great and small :) I hope she is happily and healthily sleeping at home now.


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