It is our last day in Connecticut. Tomorrow it’s back to Los Angeles after a three-week sojourn in New England.
Goodbyes are so hard, and even harder in autumn. Autumn is the time of year when we say goodbye to summer, to warm weather, to ice cream, to green, to bare feet, to skimpy outfits, to drive-in movies, to suntans and convertibles and all that they imply. We say goodbye to so much, and now we have to say goodbye to autumn itself, since we are going back to Los Angeles where autumn is mostly a non-event. After all, the palm trees stay green, the weather stays warm, and some fools even go swimming in the ocean in December! So, not much changes in Los Angeles.
I am especially sad right now because we have just learned that our darling baby kitty, Natasha, is a very sick girl. She has always been a delicate flower. She was a foundling who showed up in our carport one very rainy morning the day after Christmas. She was obviously of Siamese ancestry, with something softer mixed in. She had piercing blue eyes and a commanding voice that said, “What are you waiting for? Take me home!”. But underneath the regal bearing was a vulnerability that was even more compelling. We dutifully tried to find her owner, hoping that we wouldn’t. No one claimed her, and from that day forward, we felt that she had been sent to us straight from God. We have had Natty with us for almost fourteen years. There have been many illnesses to contend with. She has had asthma, infections, “Bird fever” and often what the vet referred to as “NQR” – “Not Quite Right”. But she was always taking care of us. We have often called her “Nurse Natty”, because when one of us is feeling under the weather, she will simply sit on us, purr, and within seconds we feel better. Natasha has always been an angel. I guess she is being called home.
When we left Los Angeles, we had just taken her to the vet. She appeared to be in pretty good shape, considering her age, with some suspicion of problems with her thyroid, a common ailment for aging cats. We thought that when we got home she would be seated on the living room sofa pretending to ignore us, as she usually does when we are guilty of abandoning her for a week or two. We had left both the kitties in very capable hands. We have the best pet sitter in the world – a woman who appears to be a cross between Mother Theresa and a women’s basketball coach. Very practical, no nonsense, and totally caring. She called me a couple of days ago, concerned that Natty was losing weight and acting lethargic. I knew she would never have called for something even remotely frivolous, so I asked her to take her to the vet in my absence, which she graciously did. My heart sank, even before I had called Dr. Basilius.
But when he called me to say that Natasha had a mass in her abdomen – that had not been there at all two weeks ago – my heart sank further. I was seized with guilt for having left her for too long, but then realized that, although our absence may have been the proverbial last straw, her illness must have been waiting in the wings for any excuse to rear its ugly head.
The doctor will do all he can to make our girl comfortable, at least until we can be there Friday morning. He says we can take her home, at least, for a little while – for which I am grateful. So long as she is not in pain or suffering, I would like to have some time with her. I would like to bring her home. I would like to have her cuddle up with us in bed again.
When we flew to the East Coast three weeks ago, we were on a “mission of love”, coming here to help Art’s parents move out of their beautiful old house and into a more comfortable and practical smaller home. We were coming to help and be of moral support to Art’s brother who was facing a difficult medical challenge. We were coming to buy a small home of our own here in Connecticut so that we could spend more time with Art’s family.
Now we are flying back to the West Coast. This time our mission is to spend whatever time remains with our beloved Natasha, to comfort our poor “orphaned” cat, Henry, who has been alone for the past few days in the house, save for Mary, his sitter. To reconnect with our family in Los Angeles, whom we have missed terribly and who have missed us.
There is so much melancholy in all of this, and yet. How sad it would be to fly back and forth, without connections, without the tug on your heartstrings saying, “Stay – Don’t go!” “Come here! We need you!”. So it is with very full hearts that we bid adieu to our home in Connecticut and travel back to our home in California. We are very grateful. We are surrounded by love.