Friday, May 25, 2012

Do Everything Right, Lose Anyway

The moral to this story is that you can do everything right - everything - and it just isn't enough.

Copernicus was a cat born in 1995 and caught out in a freak August storm when he was five weeks old. A rescuer found the kitten nest and rescued those kittens not killed by exposure. Copernicus, lying so still and cold, was left for dead. When the rescuer returned to bury him - Copernicus moved. I gather the rescure didn't have a heart attack - if she did, she'd recovered by the time dh and I arrived to adopt kittens. After several days in an incubator and some TLC, Copernicus was fit and healthy enough to be adopted. This is Erie (the short hair on the left) and Copernicus. Yes. Littermates.

Copernicus seemed convinced that I'd birthed him. He either believed he was human or that I was a truly odd-looking feline. He thought I had the power to switch off the rain. Earthquakes were clearly my fault in his eyes. But one thing was constant. In his estimation, I could do no wrong. He slept, every night, curled at my side with his head pillowed on my arm. When he was four years old, he began playing too roughly for his sister's taste. So we got him a kitten. Autolycus. They became fast friends and poor Erie had a modicum of peace back in her world.

Four more years passed. Copernicus began having what I could only call nightmares - he'd be sound asleep and he'd jerk awake, hissing. One night, curled up with me, whatever woke him was so violent, he drew blood. Mine. Vets could find nothing wrong. One memorable evening, as he curled at my side, and I drifted in alpha state, I heard the words ring through my head. "I'm dying." I was the one who jerked wide awake at that to find my number one furry son staring into my eyes. Terrified, I hugged him hard and dismissed it as a run away imagination.

Six months later, we buried him.

He blocked. This is common in male cats - urinary crystals block the urethra. If not caught and treated, it's deadly. I knew that. I knew the symptoms. I had him to the emergency vet instantly. They said, "His bladder is empty. He's not blocked." He WAS. I'd just caught that quickly. Three times he blocked. The vet suggested a particular surgery that's very successful at preventing the issue. We opted for surgery. It went well. He healed steadily for almost two weeks. Then suddenly, he was in pain. 48 hours later, aspiration pneumonia had killed him. We'd done everything right trying to save him. Our hearts were broken. Worse, losing Copernicus broke Erie's and Autolycus's hearts.

It really is true. Sometimes love and excellent care just isn't enough and someone you adore slips away too soon. Does that really make him the one who got away? After all, he's had an impact on each of us long past his eight years. When is it loss? At the inevitable parting we'll all suffer at some point? Or denying yourself the experience of love and the potential for pain it brings?

Our home now carries his namesake:


  1. Wow. Allow me to go bawl my eyes out now. Beautiful post, Marcella.

  2. I apologize that I couldn't read the post once I saw its topic. I have lost too many too soon and it nearly kills me everytime. THey are our kids because both believe it. My four have been stuck to me like velcro since I got home from a week away when they still had a housesitter cat vet tech staying here with them. Its making me reconsider BEA.

  3. What Allison said. I'm speechless. Thank you for sharing that with us. And now I have to go snuggle my cats.

  4. A sad but inspiring story at the same time- I teared up.

  5. *sniffles*

    I know your pain. I'm just glad we get so much unconditional love from such wonderful creatures before they move on.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Ditto what the other said ... ~sniffle~

  7. Oh, what a beautiful post! And so sad. I'm glad you guys had what time you did together. It's amazing how close we get to the animals we live with. But what a lucky thing while it lasts!

  8. Thank you. Sorry about the sniffle thing...