Monday, March 23, 2009


My grandmother, great aunts, great uncles, uncle, and assorted cousins buried my great grandmother today.*

Millie Arel was 97 and is survived by countless children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild. Her health and outlook had been declining for several years since she had to move out of her own apartment and into hospice care, and she always thought she had been far too long a widow and wondered when God would decide she could go join all those who had already left her. So this ending was peaceful and a welcome release for a remarkable woman.

There's so much more I'd love to say about my great grandmother--memories of trips to Grand Forks, pictures of four and five generations of her family--but I'm actually a little bit numb right now. No matter how expected such a moment is, no matter how much I know it's what she wanted, no matter how peaceful her friends and family are at her passing, I still struggle with the knowledge that Drew will only know this woman from pictures as he met her when he was only six months old. I can't help but be sad for that loss.

Let's hope I get better at posting so as not to develop a trend of updating the blog to report a loved one's death.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Adenosine "Addy" Triphosphate

On Wednesday, we said good-bye to Addy. She had been a part of our family for eight and a half years.

As the runt of a litter, Addy always had a wonky health problem to deal with. Nothing major but usually nothing easily diagnosed or treated. About two years ago, she started having some problems with her kidneys, but with the right diet and a few living adjustments, she seemed to adapt and keep up her usual activities and attitude.

Last weekend, I noticed that she felt ridiculously light when I picked her up, and she seemed lethargic and just generally out of sorts. We kept an eye on her with a mind toward gathering info before calling the vet. Then Wednesday morning she couldn't move her back legs and didn't seem to want to move much at any rate.

The vet told us we wouldn't be able to restore her health, that the best we could do was try to manage Addy's pain and stay perhaps one step ahead of her acute renal failure. That would involve a lot of procedures and therapies for a cat already too frail to even hold her head up. It really wasn't much of a choice.

I've got a lot of great memories of this cat, a wonderful companion I picked up from the Longmont Humane Society when she was only a few weeks old not too long after I had started grad school. She didn't care for Mark when he moved in a few months later, and only deigned to sit on him whenever she needed to fart. When Drew came along, she learned that the best way to get our undivided attention and demand petting was when we were stuck on the toilet. And as her health declined the past year or so, she still had to sleep snuggled up in the crook of my arm every night. She loved helping me with my work and writing and could often be found on a pile of papers on the desk next to me or sitting sentinel beside the laptop, watching a novel take shape.

She also enjoyed sneaking into closets and curling up in a dark corner on a pile of old shirts or pants. Of course, by the time she'd had her fill of the seclusion, we'd be elsewhere in the house or away at work, and she'd be stuck in the closet. Many times since Wednesday, I've found myself automatically sliding the closet door shut behind me whenever I step in to get dressed to prevent her from secreting away inside. That's when her loss hits me the hardest, when I'm aware of the ways we adjusted our habits and patterns around her quirks, and now those adjustments are not necessary.