Sunday, May 29, 2016

Stanley and the End of an Era

So, S has been having a lot of respiratory problems this past year. We've started him on Zyrtec again for the seasonal allergies, and he's been taking Singulair for a while now as well. The pediatric pulmonologist prescribed this vibrating vest that he wears twice a day to help clear out all the congestion. We were also told to get rid of the cats, as it was making his problems worse. Shim was Bill's cat, and we were never all that close, but I've had Stan for 11 years.  He'd seen me through divorce, remarriage, children, and he was my Cubs game napping pal.  We were a team.

First Bill and I tried to place them with some of our friends who have cats--but it seems like everyone is either strictly a one-cat household, or they've got 3 or 4 cats. We then moved on to the no-kill shelters, which are all at maximum capacity. Luckily, one of the professors at work volunteers at Pet Refuge, and when she found out that I had gotten Stan from there, I was told that they would take them both.  I drove out to what I thought was their new location, and had to park far away. I dragged the two carriers in the building, only to discover it is a gun shop/shooting range. As I'm loading the cats back in the car, I can hear bullets banging against the building's siding and I think to myself--so this is how it's going to end, getting hit by a stray bullet because I mistook a shooting range for the cat shelter. Before I could get back in the car, the man from the gun shop asked if he could see the cats--he thought Shim was too big and Stan was too old, so off I went to the actual shelter.

When I got home, I told Bill that we are never getting another pet, not a goldfish, not an allergen-proofed dog, nothing. Surrendering your pets, even if it is for a good reason, sucks. They scan your license, have you sign a form stating you will never try to see the pets again, and you have to explain to some pretty intense people that you are only doing this for your son's health. When it was time to say goodbye, the professor from work took me back and gave me a quick tour of where they will be living while they await adoption, and then took me upstairs to the quarantine area where they'll be for the next two weeks. Shim was pretty pissed, and the woman who was so intense downstairs while I was doing paperwork actually rather kindly noted that "she's a tortie and they're like that." Stan, as he always does, had settled in quite happily and was making new friends among the volunteers. I sat there and sobbed for a few minutes, and he let me pet him, but if he knew it was goodbye, he didn't seem too concerned about it. I imagine he'll live out his days as the Mayor of Pet Refuge, and while it makes me sad, at least we were able to place him somewhere where he'll be well looked after and be able to live out his days naturally.

When you decide to get a pet, you are making a commitment, a promise to look after another living being through good times and bad. Stan in many ways symbolized my old life--one that was good in many ways, but one that is very different from my life now.  My life now is also good in many, many ways, but it is different, and when you have a child, especially a child with complex health issues, you are also making a promise to look after another living being through good times and bad. When you have kids, even when they are healthy, it completely changes everything. I think I did not quite grasp that before S was born. I figured he'd go to daycare at IUSB and life would plug along as normal. For a long time I've struggled with how the reality of caring for S has completely upended my old life. I love him more than anything in the world (well except for Bill & C of course), but I have also spent many years mourning my old life. It has been getting better, as I find that there are still pieces of my old life that can be woven into the new reality of my wonderful family, but the realization that I would not be able to honor the commitment I made to Stan, a commitment I made in what feels like a lifetime ago, has been difficult to accept. S is doing better already though, so that makes it all worth it. 

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