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.
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.
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.
A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb