They came to our house on Mandan Street in the summer of 2006, two little female, Seal Point Siamese furballs with their black ears, paws, tail and mask around the face. The rest of their little bodies were covered with that cream colored fur that would darken as they grew.
The day we had to say good bye to Muffin was a hard one for Joanie. We had just come back from a trip to the clinic in Minneapolis, and went right to the vet clinic where they were holding Muffin for us. She had a severe infection that she couldn’t recover from and we had to let her go. After we got home that night, Joanie, who had, as a friend, a Siamese cat since I had met her said she didn’t think we would get another one or two. It was to hard on her, I thought.
Well, that lasted about three or four days, and she couldn’t stand coming home to an empty house, and she began searching the papers for a Siamese kitten, preferably two, since they would always have company when we would have to be gone. Her search continued daily, until one day she happened on an ad in The Forum, out of Fargo. She called me and asked if it was okay if she checked it out. She told me there were two Siamese kitties about two months old for sale in a pet store at the West Acres Mall. I told her to go right ahead. As far as I was concerned back then she could have anything she wanted.
She called my sister Jane, who lived in Fargo, to see if she could go the pet store and check them out. As luck would have it, Jane was at the mall when she called her, and she went to the pet store and was able to get a photo of the two little runts, and she sent it to Joanie. Joanie sent it to me, and I knew we were going to have two new friends at our house. She asked me if we could get them, and I just told her to make the arrangements. She did, and on Saturday of that week, we drove to Jamestown to meet Jane and her niece Jurnee, who had picked the kitties up and delivered them to us.
We didn’t have carriers with us, so the drive back to Bismarck was with two new kitties, who could not be contained. During the drive back, we named them Bailey and Brandy, and though they looked identical, we could tell them apart due to a line down the center of Brandy’s back where the hair stood up.
In the photo below, Bailey is on the left, lying down, and Brandy is the one sitting up eyeing the camera with some suspicion.
In the following days and months, they took over our house and our hearts, and as far as Joanie was concerned that was just what the doctor ordered.
If she was in the house, you could be sure that she was on the couch, and one or both of our new furry friends would be on the couch with her.
Bailey was special to me too. That’s what made it so hard to make the decision I made the other day, that brought me to this point.
The night Joanie died, after all of the commotion of the Hospice folks having been there, and some friends had stopped by, I was sitting at the kitchen table, finishing a beer, smoking and making a list of calls I had to make the next morning, and other details. Brandy, had gone of to find her sleeping place for the night. Bailey, on the other hand had taken up a position at the end of the open stairwell that led to the basement, and waited for me. It was as she knew something terrible had happened that night, and the hospital bed in the living room was now empty, but she wasn’t sure why, she only knew it wasn’t good. It was 2:00 in the morning, when I got up to go to bed, and then she moved. She was waiting to tuck me in, which she did, and then she went down to the end of the bed on the other side and laid down. She continued to do this with me for several years, so our bond was tight. Not that Brandy was ignored, because for several years, after we had left the house on Mandan Street, often times they both would join me on the bed when it was time for a nap, just as they had with Joanie. One resting on my hip, the other between my feet.
Fast forward to this summer, and many of you reading this, know that Bailey fell victim to kidney disease, and I know that I have written about it, perhaps to much for some, but that’s what I do.
Many of you, I have found, have had the same kind of experience.
The last few weeks have been the hardest, both on her and me. When I had to leave Muffin at the vet that year, and then bring Joanie back to see her to say her goodbye, I was more concerned about Joanie than I was about Muffin. That is not to say I didn’t miss her and feel badly about seeing her go, but my main concern then was Joanie.
This time, it was just me, and Bailey, and I think that’s why this hurt more.
She had been declining, and quickly so these last few weeks, and by Tuesday afternoon, I had made the decision to take her in on Wednesday afternoon.
As I watched her frail body that morning, she laid on the counter and would drink, but not eat, and I knew I made the right decision, maybe not soon enough, but now the end was near.
This photo taken earlier, when she would nibble a bit now and then.
From time to time I would pick her up and hold her on my lap until she would let me know that she wanted back on her counter.
I began to think of all that we had been through together, and it was making the morning tougher. By the time I put her in the carrier and prepared to leave for the clinic, I was plagued by self doubt, wondering if I was doing the right thing. Her voice, coming from the carrier as we drove, was barely audible, compared to the first time, when she complained loudly about being shut up in there on the way to the clinic.
This time her voice sounded so tiny.
I kept talking to her all the way. Why? I don’t know, but I always have talked to them both as if they could understand what the hell I was saying. On this trip it seemed more important.
When we got to the clinic and checked in, I sat with her waiting for them to call us in. She was slumped in a ball in the carrier and quiet, and I began to think about Brandy, and what she would wonder when her sister didn’t come home, and she would never see her again.
I think the two of them had been separated for a total of two days since they came to live with us in 2006, and that was when Bailey was in the hospital a couple of months ago.
Finally they called us in. I carried her into the brightly lit, sterile examining room, and placed the carrier on the table. I opened the top so I could touch her and pet her while the Vet went over what was going to happen.
Bailey seemed to be stronger as I pet her.
When the Vet was done, I asked them for a few moments alone with Bailey, and they left the room.
I picked her up and held her, all the while talking to her as if she could understand what I was trying to say. Her eyes seemed brighter than they had for some time, and as I held her up so I could look at her face, I said, “Please don’t hate me for this.”
She looked at me, and her eyes seemed to say to me, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s just the closing of the circle, I’ll be okay.”
At least that’s what I wanted to believe she was saying.
I waved for the Vet’s aide, and they came back in. I put Bailey back on the table, picked up the empty carrier, scratched her head one more time and left, still wishing I could have done something more for her, but also remembering that I still had Brandy waiting at home for me.