Charley and the Woodstove | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley and the Woodstove | Jane Boursaw Photo
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(The continuing adventures of the little black cat that Tim sent me the day after he passed. Read all about her shenanigans here. -jb)

Charley is now a year and nine months old. When Tim sent her to me the day after he passed a year ago, I arranged for a couple of vet visits to get her spayed, microchipped and started on shots. After Dr. Mason at Oakwood Veterinary Hospital examined her, he said she was probably about nine months old, so he gave her a birth date of April 7, 2021.

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Now that a year has passed, she has her yearly checkup coming up this week. Neither of us are looking forward to it, but of course, I want to give her the best care possible, and so we will get through it together, just as we’ve done with everything else this past year.

I think part of going to the vet is that it brings back all the emotions of that time – Tim passing from his earthly body as I held onto his hand, and Charley spending the first part of her life dodging coyotes and hawks around Mission Point Lighthouse. Fortunately, my friend Maura’s house was one of her stopping points, and that’s how she eventually ended up at my house, with a lot of help from Tim along the way.

Maura sent Charley home with me in a small dog carrier, and since I also used that carrier to take her to vet appointments, I’ve been wondering if the carrier itself might have some emotions attached to it – for both Charley and me. Every time she sees that carrier, she turns tail and gallops in the opposite direction.

So I bought another little carrier and put it in the living room, hoping that it will become familiar to her and won’t freak her out when I put her in there. As I hoped would happen, she sniffed it, checked it out, and then promptly ignored it. Oh, who am I kidding? Once she figures out what it’s for, the jig is up. Based on the second picture below, I think the jig is already up.

Charley checking out her new little carrier | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley checking out her new little carrier | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley checking out her new little carrier | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley checking out her new little carrier | Jane Boursaw Photo

If anyone has any tips about taking cats to the vet, feel free to let me know in the comments section below. I am still a novice at this. I scheduled the appointment for first thing in the morning, because she’s usually around during that time as I bring wood in and get the fire going. After that, she disappears upstairs to her tiny hiding place under a dresser. Honestly, I don’t know how she fits under there, but I guess it makes her feel safe. I’m hoping maybe the smaller carrier might have the same effect.

For her first vet appointment last year, I was getting ready to take her in and couldn’t find her anywhere. So I called the vet’s office and was in the middle of explaining the situation, when she came down the stairs and I managed to corral her into the carrier. I’m not sure there’s any new hiding spots upstairs that I don’t know about, but if there is, she will find them.

She’s also taken a liking to Q-Tips. Not used Q-Tips, because that would be gross, but new ones out of the box. I discovered this after I realized that the box was on a lower shelf in the bathroom, making for easy access for a certain cat. She has a whole bunch of store-bought toys, feathers, sticks that suction to the window and on and on. Once in a great while, she will actually play with them, usually during her middle-of-the-night zoomies when she dashes around the house at full tilt. But more often than not, she’d much rather chew on a Q-Tip or a piece of stray wood around the woodstove.

I don’t have a problem with her loving the chewy texture of a Q-Tip – I mean, who wouldn’t, right? – but I don’t want her eating one, resulting in yet another traumatic visit to the vet’s office. So I moved the Q-Tip box to an upper shelf. Hopefully, she doesn’t have a stash of Q-Tips in one of her hiding spots.

Charley and the Q-Tip | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley and the Q-Tip | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley and the Q-Tip | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley and the Q-Tip | Jane Boursaw Photo

As for me, the one-year deathiversary of Tim’s passing is hitting me harder than I thought it would. Sometimes it’s like I’m right back to where I was a year ago. I had gotten to a point last year where I felt like I was functioning half-way normally (whatever that is), and thought I might be able to breeze through January without too much emotional trauma. Well, the joke’s on me, because that is not happening.

I got through the actual day ok – January 5. I had a plan and kept busy with various stuff. What I didn’t anticipate is that the days and weeks following January 5 would actually be harder emotionally than the actual day. I wonder if it’s because one year ago, those days *were harder. At first, you’re sort of in shock after losing a lifelong partner. Everything’s kind of a blur. But as the days go on, that’s when you realize that the person is not there and won’t be walking in the door after hauling firewood or changing the brakepads on your car. And that’s where I am right now. Again.

And of course, things continue to happen in life where you’ve always had that person who would understand. That shared history. I’m not that far away from stopping random people in the grocery store and saying, “Hey, did you hear Jeff Beck died?!” (One of Tim’s and my favorite guitarists from back in his Yardbirds days.) Or, “Hey, I saw so and so at the gas station!” Sure, I can tell the kids these things and they’re like, oh, that’s nice, Mom. They have no idea who Jeff Beck or gas-station-person is, and they really don’t care. But they humor me.

So all of that, along with all the gray, drizzly days we’ve had so far this year, has really sapped whatever energy I had going. Also, I hadn’t cried in a while, and now I’m crying again fairly regularly. What the actual heck. But I love the vision of Tim sitting down with Jeff Beck and getting the chord progression for “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” straight from the source. Pretty sure that’s happening.

But I continue to get up every day, tend the woodstove, keep the plants watered, go to yoga classes, and move forward into the year. Well, sometimes I can only do a couple of those things before I fizzle out. And that’s ok.

Tim loved the phrase, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” That might mean flying to California or exploring a new hiking trail. Or it might just mean sitting by a woodstove with your cat as the snow falls outside the log house that your soulmate built for you.

This I know: There is beauty in sadness. Of having loved someone so profoundly that you carry them with you until the day you die. That is a gift. All of that is a tremendous gift.

Charley enjoys her woodstove warmth | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley doesn’t know who Jeff Beck is either, but she’s comforting nonetheless | Jane Boursaw Photo

9 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve picked up my kitty petted her, then walked her to where I’ve hidden her cage, and put her in for vet. Some cats love riding in a vehicle. Many people, myself included, take their cats camping. If being put in the cage doesn’t always mean going to the vet, Charlie might not mind so much.

  2. So sorry you are having a tough time and I remember those days myself. It is not easy. I think keeping busy is one good thing and being with people is another. Everyone is different and you have to do it your way. Just so happy you have Charlie.
    I have to keep my kitty in a closed room until time to go to the vet and then throw a blanket or towel over him and push him into the top of the carrier. Not easy!!! Good luck, Jane.😊😊

  3. Beautifully written and from the heart. Good idea to have the carrier out so Charley can get use to it. Presently both of my cats do not like car rides, although I have some in the past that sleep during it. Hugs to u Jane.

  4. I agree with Linda. My boys loved the car. I took them between here and the D regularly. So they didn’t get that association of going to the vet. My kitties never mind their doctor either. A lot just depends on their demeanor I’m sure. Good luck. Stay calm!

  5. We used to have to put the cat in the bathroom and shut the door before we brought the cat carrier up from the basement. She’d run and hide if she saw it and we wouldn’t see her again until she was good and ready to come out.
    One of us would go into the bathroom with a clean towel and wrap Molly up in the towel. She was a very small cat so it was pretty easy although she learned very quickly what being wrapped up in the towel meant. Then someone else would sneak into the bathroom with the carrier and together we’d put the cat in it. She yowled all the way to the vet. It was a real challenge to get her back into the carrier once the vet visit was over. She never did like the carrier, the vet, or riding in the car.

  6. Hello, You certainly have a beautiful and unique perspective on life. We all learn from you. It’s hard to gauge our individual net-worth, but I’m saying if you know-of and love Jeff Beck, everythng’s going to be alright….ha. Regarding Cat carriers, wife and I have mucho experience. Put the cat in. Cats poops everywhere. Put on nose-plug. Take cat out and clean. Put cat back in and travel at light-speed to the Vet. We have learned though our Vet to give the cat a Gabapentin the evening before the visit and another 2 hours before. Just don’t let your cat drive. It sure takes the edge off of the stress. I’m guessing Tim would smile and approve…. Best wishes from Northern Indiana…

  7. I don’t have much to offer in advice about cats. I usually wound up grabbing ours by the scruff and putting him/her in the carrier with one hand while closing the lid with the other. That is the extent of my dexterity. On another note – I now wish I could have spent more time with Tim and you. In the conversations we had on our last visit it was revealed that we like the same kind of music. And yes, among the guitar-gods – so called – Jeff Beck hover near the throne. Since Yardbird days and the Jeff Beck Group to the last CD I purchased, Loud Hailer, he is the favorite. Been watching videos of him and Tai all week. Hugs and kisses from VA.

  8. Hello Jane,
    Try putting a soft toy, towel or blanket with Charlie’s and your sent on it into the carrier.
    Before and day of vet visit. It will be comforting. Also close the door of the room with dresser and other hiding places.
    Hugs for your broken heart. Denae

  9. Lovely words from you, re: a lost loved one. Everyone heals differently. I don’t think we completely heal, but we do learn to live with the hole left in our heart.
    As for Jeff Beck, the best guitarist of our generation. We lost a Yardbird and a Bird (David Crosby) within days. Rock out with Tim.

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