GabrieleB - 09:39 a.m. Pacific Time - Jan. 10, 2005 - #1 of 23
I had to put my cat to sleep last week. She'd been my companion for 12 years, through divorce and some hard times. A few weeks ago, she started sneezing and had very enlarged lymph nodes. Despite antibiotic therapies, she didn't get better and the lymph nodes kept getting bigger. She was still grooming herself, still enjoying going out. But she was getting more and more tired. Her name was Isabel; I called her Bizzy. She was scheduled for a biopsy last week but I didn't think she'd last the 10-14 days for the pathologist's report to come back.
That morning I talked to the vet before the surgery, asking if there was anything we could do surgically to help her before we got the report. There really wasn't, and he outlined what chemotherapy would be like, two days a week at the vet's for 16 weeks. I didn't think I could do that to Bizzy. So I told the vet I'd be in at noon to put her to sleep.
Getting to the vet's office was awful, crying and crying and trying to get control of it so I didn't upset Bizzy. I was listening to a public radio station, which, at that moment, played a Tom Waits cover of "Jersey Girl." For some reason, it helped.
I spent some time with her in the room, looking out the window. I'd have taken her outside with me, but it was raining. She was still interested in everything going on. She wasn't suffering.
As painful as the realization was that I was going to lose Bizzy, when the actual moment came, I was really at peace with it. It was so fast and so gentle, like a light going out, and I felt her body go limp. I was glad I had been there with her.
I thank the vet and the people in his office so much. They were among the most caring and compassionate people I'd ever seen, fussing gently over her. When the vet took her from me, he cradled the body as gently as a baby.
I miss her so much. You know this day will come; it has to, either sooner or later. I guess it doesn't matter. She's gone. I don't cry nearly as much as I did before she died. I know I did the right thing for her; she deserved to go as gently as possible. I know in the grand scheme of things, the death of a cat is a trivial event. But I miss her.
DejunaB - 10:17 a.m. Pacific Time - Jan. 5, 2005 - #2527 of 2532
We're on a crowded elevator at the fancy smancy mall. The Christmas decorations are still up and the crowd is thick. As we get on the elevator I'm telling K about a party I've been invited to: "The idea is married women bring their single friends. You know, so the single people could meet one another. But here's the deal, I'm not sure I'm invited or not because, well, I'm not single or married." She looked me square in the eye and very loudly said: "I guess you'll just have to marry me, won't you?" The people on the elevator stopped talking, the hush became a silence. K gasped and I giggled. These people are going to lecture us about Hell and Jesus and homos with their eyes.
After the doors opened, the people in front of us turned and smiled, saying "happy new year" to us, and the well-kept trophy wife directly in front of us turned and grinned at us. "You two seem so happy, congratulations!"
I didn't fall in love with K that moment (she was kidding, but only a little). I fell in love with a city. I realized that I have never bristled under arch looks or staring eyes when I've been in public with a girlfriend and we stand a little closer than women friends usually do, or lightly touch one another. I've never felt the sting of workplace harassment when a co-worker finds out I'm a lesbian; rather the response is one of surprise and I am graciously asked about a partner and children.
Where I do feel the sting of mistrust, homophobia and hate is the place I once called home. A place I contemplated returning to. A place where I would financially realize a 16 percent increase in my standard of living.
I can live without that 16 percent. I can't live without tolerance.