So I decided I needed an outlet. Many years ago, thirteen years ago to be exact (where did the time go?) I was a passionate blogger and interwebber. When I started my college studies, my blogging and webdesign interests fell on the wayside. But in small ways, I still found ways to have that kind of outlet; I think some friends would complain that I blog to them, because such is my verbosity at times, my passion for the written word. My only concessions to chat speak were to avoid capitalizing like the plague, and an increased use of acronyms; I may use acronyms from time to time here too, for I am rather taken with them. But I began to realize it wasn’t fair to my introverted, loyal, quiet friends and listeners to drown them out with my words. I need an outlet, one where if you manage to stumble upon my words, you can turn tail and flee, or read on, the choice is yours. You have been warned.
The other reason for suddenly rekindling my interest in higher forms of internet outside of the usual Facebook or Twitter, is because I find myself afflicted with a recent loss. In this poignant time of need, my words exceed the normal human tolerance in mere conversation. I add words upon words trying to touch at all the different facets of my grief, and lessons learnt, never quite reaching it but always trying.
The nature of my griefs are themselves manifold. The most recent, and most pressing, is the loss of my cat Gilly (not pictured in the last post, for I have not one picture of her where she does not look serene, content, or happy. It is my Teddy, my sweet baby kitten who is also a bit of a sneaky, lovable fiend, a regular Batman if you will, reemerging from the shadows when you call for him). How Gilly managed to get outside still no one knows. We were out of state to visit my parents; I had gradually introduced her to the house, and in the week and a half she was here, she had become quite comfortable, upstairs especially. She was still spooked by my mother, however, whose first tendency when she sees any cat is to try and pick it up. Gilly had suffered abuse, and was only still learning to trust humans; I would say she trusts us, in the six months we had her, but later events would show how precarious that trust is.
I had been watching Doctor Who. Not exactly obsessively, but I was coming to the close of Tennant’s tenure so I was more distracted than I would’ve been otherwise from my cat’s doings. Around 6 PM, I realized I hadn’t seen Gilly in awhile, not since my mom had last gone up the stairs to see Gilly; I saw Gilly go down, then back up, or so I thought. Episode forgotten, I started searching every room of the house thoroughly, even places I had never before seen her hide, now concerned about her whereabouts. When that provided fruitless, I went outside with a flashlight calling to her; the bitter cold nipped my skin, and the sight of a dead squirrel clutching an acorn, frozen to death, filled me with dread. If she was outside, she must be found and brought back inside: she could die in this cold.
I became weary of searching, for after returning from outside I searched the whole house again, but tried again outside, with my dying phone as my only light for my mom managed to, in the interim to lose the flashlight. I found her under the car, sitting calmly as if she was incredibly proud of herself. Unable to believe my eyes and knowing I would require assistance, I called my sister to me and brought her carrier. But when I returned, carrier in hand, Gilly had left from under the car, and I heard a rustling in the trees. But I couldn’t see; I cursed my now dead phone and cursed my mother for losing the flashlight. My mind went into full panic, for a quick glance at the treeline showed no cat, and I hadn’t seen her move.
My mother made the sensible suggestion; she and I would drive to the church adjoining our property and my sister would stay on the house side, so Gilly would have nowhere to run. But my sister erred in calling us back, saying she found Gilly, and in my desperation to see her I ran out of the car and back to where my sister indicated: behind the garage, in a gap in the fence between our property and the church, sitting atop some logs. When we brought the carrier near, that she goes herself into in times of stress, she fled, to the church proper where we could not see. Thus, my desperation to see her, the first mistake.
We should have stopped there. Gilly abhores being handled and runs if she thinks someone will pick her up. Yet, in pure fright of her staying out in the freezing cold, -10.6 C, we kept on. Our own limbs freezing, we struggled to find her. Finally, we found where she’d gone; high up a tree, where she thought none could reach her. She blinked peacefully at us, again as if she was happy with the situation.
The eventual arrival of the firefighter crew upset her calm; she didn’t like the lights or noise, and seemed more concerned. Yet, they chose to do nothing. They advised me to leave food and carrier at the base of the tree, and she would eventually come down on her own. I went home to retrieve food and proper shoes (I had been wearing house slippers all this time), reluctantly willing to do as they recommended. This ran contrary to all my expectations of firefighters, perhaps fed by all the YouTube videos that suggest they fetch cats out of trees all of the time, to safety, and undoubtedly influences the disastrous event that followed.
From what I know of Gilly, she is quite content to stay hidden in a place for a very long time, until I fetch her, if she puts her mind to it. Especially since coming to the house, on less familiar ground. Thus, I did not share the firefighter’s certainty she would come down for food; when we first came home, it took extreme effort to coax her to eat, and when I first adopted her, she wouldn’t eat at all, until I petted her extensively and made her feel loved. In short, in uncertain circumstances, all bets are off with this cat. When I returned with the food, I relieved my sister of her vigil under the tree, and assumed it myself. I clanked her food bowl laden with food, to which, unsurprisingly there was no response. I left it in front of the carrier. Suddenly, I could take inaction no longer. Despite never having climbed a tree except my easy climbing tree here at home, I began to climb, in my stout Uggs. I climbed up till I could hook my legs on the two branches most proximal, then hung upside down, suspended, and swung myself up. Then I proceeded to climb up, maybe about 20 feet, until I reached her. She no longer had blinking eyes for me; she kept her back to me, and seemed to shirk from my touch. In such cold, I could barely feel my hands, and became desperate. I did the one thing every cat owner knows not to do: I grabbed her tail, the nearest portion of her anatomy and I held. I didn’t even realize how badly she was bit my right hand in response, in my desperation to free her. I don’t think I released her, but the force of her sudden jump freed her from my last, desperate grasp. She ran far away, into the street.
I called my sister to pursue her (I was too high to simply jump down, myself), but it was too late. The streets, blessedly, were devoid of cars; I don’t know in her desperation to get away if she would have avoided a car were they there, so that is something to be grateful for. There was no further point in pursuit; my bleeding hand now apparent, the late hour (around 2 AM); finally, at terrible price, we had learnt that there was nothing more we could do. To do nothing, sometimes, is to do everything, and to do everything is worse than nothing.
She is still missing, for two days now. (Only two? The days feel longer.) I think of her, in the cold, hungry, not knowing whence home is for this wasn’t even her home, a temporary abode for a time. Thankfully she is microchipped, and I have put up alerts in every possible fashion so there is hope she will be found… if she survives the cold. Suddenly, all other griefs and tribulations I faced are eclipsed by the suffering of an innocent, scared animal. She adored Teddy, acted like his mother. I do not know what compelled her to leave or even how she left; no one recalls leaving the door open long enough, but a handyman did come while we were still searching for her, and I’m afraid that was the critical moment. I can only pray she finds her way home, a home away from home.
I hope I will have cause to report joy in equal measure to grief in the year to come. Grief and joy are not enemies, but the most intimate of friends, for knowing one teaches us of the other. But the hour is late, so I will leave you here, adieu.