Note: I started writing this on Tuesday night but the line of thought took me to a very dark place and I was unable to get any coherence out of myself so, as I did with Monday's post, I let this sit and opened a new tab for Wednesday's post... and Thursday's...
I finally got Monday's into postable condition late last night. It is now Friday night and I'm working to get the Tuesday thru Friday posts into shape. The maudlin morass I'd fallen into on Monday kept it's hold on me on Tuesday. Which had a dramatic but cringe-worthy effect on my writing.. So I'm rewriting, keeping the topic intact but aiming for the Joe Friday "just the facts Mam" approach.
It was bad enough Tuesday through Monday afternoon when I was convinced the explanation was irreversible organ damage due to old age--14 years July 6th. But, as detailed in Monday's post, evidence of possible poisoning came to light along with the implication that there could have been a happy outcome if we'd gotten him medical attention immediately.
But it was obviously too late by the time I understood this last night as Merlin had stopped making the effort to move away from his beds to empty his bladder by Sunday evening and would just lay in it until I discovered it. This tumbled me into the the maudlin morass of mea culpas.
Today is my Tuesday 'on duty' day when my sister is away and I'm responsible for dinner as well as lunch. Also to be available for whatever Mom needs help with. So today I can't spend as much time holed up in the office with Merlin. Every time I leave the room I'm anxious about what I'll find when I get back.
This morning he was so weak he couldn't stand at his water dish. He tried twice and gave up, laying down beside it. So I lifted him to his feet and kept my hands under his belly so little weight was on his legs. He drank and drank. But his nose kept hitting the water as his head drooped. I wasn't very surprised when he started refusing water this afternoon.
Yesterday and this morning I was replacing the wet pads in his crate every two or three hours and at the same time wrapping him in a towel, blanket or old T-shirt to dry him off before and after I wiped him down with wipes (like baby wipes but for cats and safe for the face) and then holding him until I was sure he was dry.
I spent a lot of time coo-talking to him. Telling him the stories of the good times we had. Thanking him for the laughter he gave us with his kittenish antics, for his love and patience and playful zest for life until late 2012.
One of the hardest things about this whole past week has been the effort to keep my emotions on an even keel when in this room with him. I knew that if I let the grief take over he would be disturbed on my behalf and have added stress over not having the energy to comfort me.
I know this based on his previous behavior whenever I was sick or upset. He would hang around me more and attempt to get as close as he could to my chest or head. He might even tolerate being held so he could rub noses and chins, purr and knead though he preferred it when I was laying down so he could do all of that without being restrained.
So to keep the blubbering at bay, I told him the stories about the things he did that gave us laughter and joy. Like how he learned how to shoot rubber bands soon after he joined our family at six months.
The first time was an accident. He was playing with one he found on the floor and got one end in his teeth and the other hooked onto a claw. That time he let go with the claw first so he shot himself in the face. Instead of running away and shunning rubberbands forever more he pounced on it and took his revenge, picking it up in his mouth and shaking it then grabbing it with a claw and stretching it taut. This time he let go with his mouth first and it shot across the room a good ten or twelve feet. He chased it, wrestled with it again and again shot it across the room. From that moment he was hooked on shooting rubberbands.
I told him the story of how he got his name. We got him from the shelter with the name Skippy in honor of his peanut butter colored fur. We didn't really love that name so over the next week we tried out a number of others: Nutter-Butter for the color and his antics, Jiffy for the color and his running speed, Doofus for his silliness. We had him over a week before we settled on Merlin.
We had to keep him isolated from Gremlyn until we were sure he hadn't contracted a virus at the shelter. So we kept him in the master bedroom suite--this was when Ed had the tech job in the Silicon Valley. Since we wanted him to know he was primarily Ed's cat, I ignored him all day, avoiding the bedroom as much as I could. Then Ed would spend a half hour socializing with him alone in the bedroom after he got home from work.
One evening Ed got home and headed back to see Nutter/Doofus/Jiffy and could not find him. After Ed had done a thorough search and still not found him we had dinner and then we searched together. We had ourselves a looked room mystery. Ed finally gave up and went to sit in front of the TV with his nightly bottle of wine.
I went to my office but soon had another idea and went back to check it out. I'd remembered hearing skittering across the underside of the boxsprings at night and wondered if he might have ripped it enough to get up inside it. So I got down on the floor to look from all three sides. No strip or corner of gauzy fabric hanging down. But something was odd on the floor against the wall at the head of the bed.
I had to move the queen sized Hollywood framed bed away from the wall. The odd thing I'd seen was the out of place framed picture that still hadn't been hung which I'd pushed against the wall at the head of the bed to cover the floor vent whose cover was not screwed down. Silly Doofus had pushed it off the vent and gotten the vent cover completely off and apparently had disappeared into the ducts of the defunct heating system.
I brought Ed in to show him. There was nothing to do about it that night. If Doofus had not found his way back to the open vent by morning we might have to get park maintenance involved.
He had not shown up inside by the time Ed got up but when he went outside for his first cigarette the little rascal sauntered up meowing and rubbed against his legs.
Before he left for work Ed said Houdini was now on the list and in first place. Then I suggested Merlin after the teleporting wizard from the Arthurian cycle which was one of Ed's favorite stories. He liked that too and said he would think about it. By the time he got home that evening he'd settled on Merlin.
Well it was nearing 10pm when I realized I still hadn't cleaned up the kitchen which I'd meant to do directly after reading to Mom. I also needed to sort Mom's pills for the next three weeks before I went to bed. My sister could be home anytime after midnight and I didn't want her to see the mess. So I pushed away from this still unedited rough draft but when I tried to stand I felt something on my foot and looking down saw Merlin stretched out flat on his side in front of my feet with his head resting against my toes. I thought for sure it was over but once again he stirred when I lifted him.
He had crawled out of his crate for the first time since before lunch and got himself across the two feet . He tried to meow but it was whisper soft and raspy. He was damp again from thighs to tail. I dried him off with the T-shirt, wiped him down with the wipes and wrapped him in the blanket and held him against my chest.
I cooed to him while gently massaging one paw between thumb and index finger. He responded by starting to knead the air. I almost started blubbering but instead started telling him the story of the rainbow bridge where it was warm and beautiful and he'd be free to run and play, chase balls and shoot rubber bands and tease Gremlyn who would be waiting on the other side.
After an hour of this I reluctantly lowered him to the floor, removed the top of his crate to put a dry pad in, settled him into the nest I'd made and replaced the top before leaving the room.
It was 3am before I finished my kitchen tasks. I was preparing myself to find Merlin gone when I returned but he turned his head toward me when I lifted the crate top. I was going to go to bed but decided I'd return to this and tell the story of finding him at my feet and the subsequent cuddle. It is now 5am and I really must go to bed. I'm in no shape to edit this before I've had some sleep. I've still not edited yesterday's post either.