Not to the Rescue

(Note to reader….I wrote this post several days before we euthanized Clea due to her failing kidneys. It seemed more appropriate to post about her death in a timely manner and save this post for a later date, even though it meant the time line would be a bit confusing. It’s just too funny to not share with you.)


Sitting last night on the sofa, tired from a long day, full from a satisfying meal and glad to be home with Tom sharing the end of the day, I heard Jena screaming from her upstairs bedroom, “IT’S SO GROSS, OMG, IT’S SO GROSS.”


To my utter amazement I didn’t budge. I didn’t reflexively run up the stairs to save the day…night. I simply listened. Curious. Had the cat thrown up? Had the cat died? I knew instinctively that Jena was okay because no one who is not okay can annunciate so clearly and repetitively. So very unlike the mother I was in my youth, or even last week, I sat.


Eventually Jena came down the stairs. I think a bit startled that my butt was still on the sofa, my hand still on Tom’s leg. “CLEA HAS A TICK. YOU HAVE TO GET IT OFF HER!!!” (Something you must know before I go any further is that I have been giving Clea subcutaneous IV’s fluids using a needle the size of a fish hook to help her failing kidneys. I tolerated my own skin crawling, nausea, the sound of skin popping as the huge ass needle was stuck into her flesh, almost sticking myself in my shakiness, for my love of Clea and for my love of Jena. Clea is Jena’s cat and the last of the family pets from her childhood. I womanned up and did it.)


But this time, without thought, without several sessions with my therapist to practice boundary setting, I sat there, calmly, with no inner angst of being a bad mom and said, “I’m not doing it, I hate ticks!”




Now I have known Jena longer than anyone. I know her facial expressions, her tonalities, her nuances, her body mechanics. But tonight, with an embedded, engorged tick in the neck of the cat she sleeps with every night, that she was playing with thinking it was a mole on Clea’s neck, whose legs were moving around as it burrowed deeper, Jena made noises and did things with her face that I had never seen before.


As will happen in these crisis moments, I began to laugh. Hard. The more animated Jena’s contortions became the more hysterical I became. The more she pulled her arms up into her oversized sweat shirt to spin her empty sleeves like a talented stripper with pasties, hopped up and down like someone was shooting at her feet, turned her mouth in the most perfect upside down U a mouth can make yelling, “YOU HAVE TOO, IT’S TOO GROSS. MOOOOMMMMMM,” the harder I laughed. I couldn’t stop. Tears rolled down my face.


Those of you that know me, or have been reading this blog for any length of time, know how much I love my kids. Like most moms I would lay my life down for them. But this is where I drew my line. NO TICK REMOVAL. I’m not doing it and she can’t make me.


I loved feeling so clear. I felt absolutely no guilt holding firm to my NO.


Eventually I held Clea while Jena removed the tick…still hopping up and down on one foot then the other, but she did it. I didn’t look. I let myself be a wienie. I think I may do that more often. Bravery is often over rated.


When Jena finished poor Clea ran up the stairs as fast as a dying kitty can. Tom said she paused in the living room, staggering from weakness, then hid behind the couch.


Later that night, Clea and Jena tucked into bed together, Jena worried that the head of the tick was still in Clea’s neck. “Will she be all right Mom?”


“It won’t kill her,” I said flatly as I headed to bed, tired from the drama of the evening.


“Touche.” I heard from the dark of Jena’s room.

What is Good Enough?

I am sitting with Clea this morning, waiting for the vet to come make a final house call.


Yesterday I sat with Clea, eye to eye, nose to nose, asking her if it was time for her to go. Her empty gaze, dilated pupils said it all. It is time.


I think. Is it? I hope I am reading this right. How do I know for sure?


I worry I should be doing something special, a ritual of good bye, a meaningful something for Clea. Truthfully, not for Clea but for me. To ease my pending guilt when I accuse myself tomorrow morning of not doing everything I could to save her, of helping her go peacefully, for euthanizing her to early, when I tell myself now it is too late and it is my fault. (Whatever the IT may be.)


I foresee this self destructive berating on my horizon. I have beat myself silly though out my life with other perceived infractions. So, I am attempting preemptive action.  I am writing to you as Clea lies next to me. It is the only thing I want to do. It is the only thing I can think of to do. It is my way of comforting myself.


Clea is the last of the family pets. With her passing she takes with her the last connection to the family home, the family we once were, the way things were supposed to be. Again I feel guilt. I sold the family home, I divorced my kids father and changed the family unit forever. Granted Clea would still be dying even if we lived in Chalk Hill, but at least the safety net of original family and home would be there.


You may be realizing by now, as am I, I have a very close relationship with guilt. Somehow it all becomes my fault…my not doing it right…my missing something…my something. Tom says he wishes I weren’t so hard on myself.


The logical question is how come I am?


My therapist says it is because I never believe I’m good enough. He is right. The truth is I can never be good enough because I keep moving the bar. Upping the ante.


This keeps me in a perpetual state of pushing. Like Sisyphus. Except, unlike this bad boy, I don’t do it as a punishment for tricking the gods, I do it because excepting what is, without guilt, let’s me off a hook I value. The hook is a false sense of power, control, ability to change life so the day turns out better.


What if I let myself trust I am doing my best with Clea? And what if my best is all I have? What if it is all any of us really have? At the end of the day.


So I will do my best even when it isn’t good enough. And I will live with that. Some days more comfortably than others.


Today I feel very sad about my best.