Royally Kranked

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A MUCH Better Appreciation For My Mom

It's interesting how things come back to you when going through suddenly stressful situations, especially those involving family

Friday night, I had to take my cat Jenny, to the emergency animal center, she was having a bit of trouble breathing, but nothing as drastic or scary as the wheezing attacks she gets every once in a while

I'm as fiercely devoted to this critter as parents are with their children, she's been there when I've had incredibly bad, stressful days. Jenny somehow transfers all that negative energy from getting petted and helps diminish the anxiety and ire factors from overwhelming to merely bad, and the fact that she's the sweetest cat around, in terms of genuinely liking to be around people, and almost demanding worship by petting from anyone in her immediate vicinity just makes her far more than a mere pet for me

Jenny's not used to going to the vets regularly, not in the 16 of 18 years I've had her-especially since she's an indoor cat, and I'm overly paranoid about not letting her slip outside-but when she does have to make the trip, she doesn't usually have a problem with her temperature taken

But this time, Jenny put up a real fuss, and it was during this time that she started gasping for air, and it got so much worse in just a few seconds that I couldn't believe how quick and overwhelming it was

I started panicking, and raised my voice

"Oh my God, Jenny, Jenny, please, do something for her", while the tears started, just as dramatic as any such scenario on any medical show, when the patient suddenly goes critical in the presence of their family or friends

Jenny's system was shutting itself down rapidly, and when the vets assistants rushed her to the back, not letting me come with her, I just couldn't get that brutal visual from my eyes, it just kept replaying constantly while I waited for some word for about 30 minutes

And that's how I realized just how hard so many of you mothers have it, especially those with chronically or terminally ill children you love and value above all else in the universe

I had asthma so severe when I was a child that I was a regular visitor to the emergency room, about ten blocks and one left turn straight down the street from our house

There were at least three occasions when the asthma was severe enough to stop my heart for a few minutes at a time, and my parents witnessed every one of those heart stoppages

And when that was the last image I had of my poor cat, her gasping for air while her system shut down, but she was conscious of what was happening, making the panicking even more brutal for Jenny to go through

When you're gasping for breath, and it's your own system shutting down, and you're conscious enough to know what's happening but can't stop it in any way, it's terrifying

And that's what wrenched my heart, how terrified, helpless and aware Jenny was, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it

And that's when I realized exactly what my mom went through when it happened to me as a child

And so, for about 30 minutes, while waiting for some word on Jenny, all I could think of was how the possibility of suddenly losing her, and how I wasn't ready for that to happen, was the same kind of sudden situation my mom had faced regarding me

The vet came in and wasn't sugarcoating or varnishing how bad the situation was

"She's trying to crash and die on us"

I remember that I was rather calm when she said this, it was a splash of icy cold water to the soul, but it forced me to focus on a very unpleasant possibility that would have been far more painful to ignore or hope away otherwise

And for another 45 minutes, I couldn't think of anything except how I'd better make my peace with saying goodbye to Jenny, hoping that the last image of her would be of a cat that simply went to sleep and didn't wake up as opposed to always remembering her gasping and panicking to in a futile attempt to breathe

I realized the worst aspect of parenthood then, the same ones my parents faced

The possibility of sudden loss of your loved ones, your children

A worse fate cannot exist for parents who have faced that loss, or actually been forced to go through it, it's the most shattering of experiences, and one that will never be gotten over, or an outcome one can ever "find closure" on

I was tearing myself up at this point, I called my mom & sister from the emergency center, and they offered me whatever help they could

It was then I realized what a true Godsend my family is, sure, we have our differences and disagreements, but when it matters most, we come through for each other

My sister lost her cat-around the same age as Jenny, a short time before this happened, and thankfully, she kept me focused on what I had to do, namely, make sure Jenny wasn't suffering needlessly if it came to having to put her down

During the times I wasn't talking to mom or sis, all I could think of was how I finally understood, so crystal clearly, just how hard a price we pay for the love in our lives when it's time is over

At some point, the vet came back and said the treatments were working very, very well, and that Jenny looked to pull through what was the first real health problem she'd ever had

The sense of relief was sudden and overwhelming, a surreal jolt on top of some very unpleasant realizations gained that day

I felt about my cat just like my mom did about me when learning that I'd pulled through what should have been a life-ending asthma attack

The gratitude that this wasn't the end, that there's more tomorrows, more chances for life's little enjoyments and treasures, more chances to show love to the important presences in our lives, more chances to say "I love you" even if, with me, it's to my pet, not a child

I imagine my mom felt the same way on those occasions I came back from having my heart stopped, the enormous relief of a burden not having to yet be borne, or borne fully, of more chances and tomorrows as well

And that gratitude only grew brighter and more overwhelming when I got to see Jenny the next morning, her usual happy & purring self such a gorgeous counterpoint to the gasping, terrified creature I'd witnessed with horror only 12 hours previously

I realized the same things my mom felt about me at this exact point when I saw Jenny doing better after the attack, that I wanted to just scoop her up, never let go, and indulge every whim she could ever have

The joy my mom must have felt thinking about future tomorrows is one I couldn't fathom until yesterday morning, and it's one I hope goes on for a long time

And so, now that I've gotten a real understanding of what joy and terror at almost the same time are all about, I have to say I'm in awe of you mothers who love your kids, especially those kids who require more than the usual amount of physical, emotional or mental help, assistance and understanding than normal kids, those of you who have to administer physically painful medications and treatments to your children have perhaps the toughest job of all

You have to deliberately inflict pain to keep your kids healthy, something my mom had to learn to do after the last occasion where asthma stopped my heart before I could get to the emergency room

As I wrote about my mom last year

It got to the point where she learned how to administer the adrenalin shot when I got hit with an asthma attack, and she always said it tore her up to hear me scream because of getting stuck with the needle

And since I've brought little beast back home, the sense of contentment, the sense of hope and joy has come back stronger than before about having more tomorrows with Jenny

So on this Mother's Day, I have no doubt that there's a special place in Heaven for all you moms who cherish and adore your kids, and the love you all show is one of the reasons this world is a better, rather than worse, place

And on this Mother's Day, thanks to almost losing something as dear to me as I am to my Mom, I end the same way I did with Last Year's Appreciation Of My Mom

I Love You Mom, and that only grows by the day



  • KingKranky, I'm so glad that Jenny is ok. Every animal lover knows that a pet has a very special place in our hearts and is an irreplaceable part of our lives.

    Love certainly comes in all shapes & sizes.

    By Anonymous LI_Mom, at 5:26 PM  

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