Some of you know me, some of you do not. I am AcroRay's wife, Collette and myself and our 2 girls were at MegoMeet on Saturday.
I have always supported Ray in being a part of the Mego Museum and the girls and I have been going for 4 years now. We enjoy going and even though it is a decent drive for us (especially myself) we look forward to it each year.
This year was extremely difficult for me to go. Only days before, on June 4th, we lost my Annabelle kitty who would have been 16 years old on the 27th of this month. She was an amazing girl and she has been with me nearly half of my life. Ray and I were not even a couple for months after I adopted her.
Some of you were so extremely kind and understanding to the grief that I was going through. I really did not want to be anywhere, did not want to be talking with anyone; I wanted to be home, where her memory was all around me. Several of you listened, talked, shared, understood.
I thank you.
Several of you also understood that the girls were not quite themselves and were so very kind to them as well.
I have a memorial for Annabelle on another site and I am trying to put the link into my signature if anyone should care to read it. I will be back in here again to post after the day camp the girls and I are going to be at for the next few days, but I have been wanting to post this in here for a short while now.
Just checked again and the memorial site is behind schedule, so in the meantime I will just put in here. If you do not wish to read it, stop reading at this point.
Annabelle was born June 27, 1993. She came into my life almost 16 years ago weighing less than 1 pound and almost ready to give up on hers. She had been abandoned by a breeder, for being the 'runt' of the litter, to a fish and lizard store where they knew nothing about caring for a malnourished kitten who was taken from her natural mother too early. She was anemic, flea-ridden, lethargic, malnourished, mostly fur and bones, and heart-broken. I made them open up the bird cage they had her in and held her. The last bit of activity she had for weeks was give me a kiss on my cheek and lay her head on my shoulder.
The vet wouldn't even give her 6 weeks to live. I made a promise to her that I didn't care- that she would be the happiest little kitty in the world, it didn't matter if it was 3 days or 3 years, no matter how long.
I bathed her by hand every day, fed her by hand several times a day, and gave her her medicine in ways she could handle taking it because she had no energy to do any of it on her own. She lost her beautiful long fur to short fur from the iron medicine and it turned much of her torti coat white, but she was getting a little stronger each day.
After 6 weeks I took her back to the vet. She now weighed 6 pounds, had some energy (although not as much as she should have) and they did not believe that it was the same little less than 1 pound kitten I had originally brought in.
The first REAL burst of energy she showed was attacking the chicken dinner of my roommate, stealing a leg, dragging it to my and Annabelle's room, hiding with it, and growling at my roommate when she came to get it back.
Over time after she was able to stop the medicines. She got her beautiful long-torti coat back and was inseparable from her Mama. When I came home from classes she would be waiting in our room, would run to the door and proceed to yell at me for being gone from her for so long. She ate meals with me. She her food, me mine, but if it was something she could have I shared some.
Annabelle was more kid than cat. When I was hurt, she laid next to me pouting and sad. She would climb up onto my hurt shoulder and try to heal it for me with her love and purrs. When I cried, she would climb up, wrap her arms around my neck, wipe my tears off of my face with her paw, and then just hug me with her head snuggled on my cheek or on my neck. This never changed.
She eventually got her full energy and would run all over the apartment with fierce determination. She climbed the walls after toys, learned 'fetch', and was so blissfully happy as long as Mama was around. She hated to be away from me and would get so sad when I wasn't home for any reason.
When she was 2 we (me and my then fiance, now husband) found some of Annabelle's siblings abandoned at a different pet store. The same breeder dumped them because they were half-siamese, half-torti-persian, and 'unsellable'. They hadn't even opened their eyes yet. We adopted one who my husband fell in love with and took her home to meet Annabelle. Yuri had never learned from her natural mother how to clean herself and was half-starved. Annabelle at first was annoyed (what big sister isn't when a new baby comes home), but soon came to care for her in a half motherly, half sisterly way. They looked so much alike that when they laid together you couldn't tell where one ended and the other started. She was a WONDERFUL big sister.
A couple of years after I got married. Her Papa had been in her life from the time she was a few months old, so she was well used to him being around most of the time, but it was Mama she depended on to be there. We moved far from the home she had known, but she and Yuri settled in quite well. As long as Mama was around everything was good for Annabelle.
Not long after, she had her first bad time. She started developing UTIs and they couldn't figure out why. They were getting 'worse' and Annabelle was getting sicker. We were in and out of the Vet, but they never seemed to help her much.
Again we moved and to another Vet she went. This one allowed her body weight to go down by half and her urine was 80% blood and still they did not care- "we can see her in a month". I called and called all the Vets in the book trying to find someone who would care and help (no one would see her because she was 'someone else's patient'). Finally I found one- Dr. Shepard. They let me bring her right in and Dr. Shepard knew what was wrong right away. Annabelle had bladder stones and needed surgery to get them out because by then they were so large they could not be reduced enough to pass.
That year we did not have Christmas per se. We told anyone and everyone that we wanted no gifts. If you were going to get us anything, or even a card, don't spend the money, please help us save my baby. We sold much of what we owned and donations came in. The only one to get presents that year was our toddler daughter- although not very much, she wanted to help save Annabelle too. Our Christmas present was that Annabelle lived through the surgery even with her weakened state and couldn't wait to be at home with Mama again.
Everything I did, everywhere I went in the house, Annabelle was with me. When I took a shower- she had to be in the room, cooking, sitting on the couch, anything. When I slept she was either on the bed with me or (more likely) would come onto the bed, pull the covers down, lie down with me and use my arm as her pillow and demand my hair under her paws or over her head. She HATED it when I had my hair cut short. She loved her Papa so much, but would always stay jealous that he had time with me.
She had a couple of nick-names. Bella, Baby, Babybelle were the ones we used the most. In fact she was so used to being called (by me) these that when our daughter came along and I would say "Baaaaby" to her and Annabelle would come running meowing. She loved being held like a baby by me, but not everyone could pick her up- she was a Mama's girl. Her favourite way to be carried was up on my shoulder with her head under my hair against my neck.
Not too long after she recovered from the surgery and got her strength back again something terrible happened. Her Papa heard in the middle of the night what he thought was her and her sister fighting, which would have been very unusual, so he ran (well sleepily stumbled) up the stairs (he had fallen asleep on the couch watching a movie) to find Annabelle in the hallway having a seizure. He called for me and I came into the hallway finding by baby again helpless and tortured by something else.
There was no where we could take her at the hour it was then, so I stayed up the rest of the night with her and made sure she would be OK. I was on the couch holding her, talking to her, loving her. In the morning I called in to her Dr and got her straight out. Due to all of the stresses her poor body had taken she developed a seizure disorder. She would need to be on Phenobarbital and have blood work done every year (later became every 6 months- law was changed). No problem, this is my baby. What ever I can do, I will do.
Like with her first surgery people started again telling me I should just 'put the poor thing down' instead of taking the added expense and time of giving her this simple medicine. She is MY BABY. I would NEVER do that over something like this. She is a fighter, she wants to fight to be here, she LOVES life, she LOVES being with me, her whole life is being with me. Plus I made her a promise, I love her too much to break that promise ever.
So I would ask her- what do you want? Her answer would be to look at me, meow at me, climb up onto my shoulder, put her head under my hair, purr, snuggle, then look at me and 'pet' my cheek, then start snuggling me again. Hmmm, I think that was a "I want to be with you Mama" answer.
A few years down the road filled with lots of love, snuggles, demanding, and just complete attachment on both sides, Annabelle again had a medical problem. This time it was tumors. She developed breast tumors and they were growing rapidly. We had to try to get the money together for the surgery and it took longer than we would have liked. We were finally able to have the surgery and the Dr. took out all of her mammary glands just to make sure. We found out it was not cancer, but she lost some small movement of her right arm because that was where he had to take the most tissue out. But still she was the queen of the castle, kept the others in line, enjoyed life and we took each day as it came.
Labour Day weekend this past year- 2008, Annabelle was trying to climb up onto the bed where her Papa was and she wasn't able to get up. He went to help her thinking she had her claws caught in the blanket, but that wasn't the problem. She wasn't able to use her back legs. He got me and we got her to the (what we thought was a good) animal hospital immediately because being a holiday weekend there would be 3 days before she could see her Dr.
There they told us that Annabelle would never walk again, that she would be horribly depressed, and that we should just 'end it for her now'. All of this was told to us AFTER we told them the limited funds we had. BEFORE that they wanted to run scans, do tests, and were optimistic. They said 'we are monitoring her in the cage and she seems depressed'. We told them that was because she was away from me and that they would not let her see me, she wanted her Mama!!! 'Nope, no cat is capable of that kind of deep affection'. I DEMANDED to see her and when I did Annabelle was HAPPY, climbing, snuggling and begging me to take her home. So that is what we did.
They wanted to kill her, but put in her medial record from there that we "took her life into their own hands by taking her home". What hypocrites. They said that no one would want to do the kind of care she would need- in front of my 2 children! I diapered them, I followed them, I cleaned up after them, I had done it for Annabelle when she was a kitten!!! Why would I not do it for her now???
Annabelle was with us here for 9 months after. We would have lost that wonderful, precious time with her. They scripted medicine in doses that would have killed her had we followed their directions they gave, but we suspected them only gave her small doses. Annabelle's regular Dr was appalled at the report, at the meds, and everything along with us. The ER Dr was trying to 'euthanize' Annabelle without our consent because she could not believe the bond that she and I shared. We sat waiting that whole first weekend because she (the ER Dr) had told us that Annabelle probably would not make it though until Tuesday. Yup, had we followed her directions Annabelle would not have made it through.
Annabelle got around fine for a kitty who could not put weight on her back legs. We found out that it was bad disks in her back that caused this. But as long as she was eating, drinking, going bathroom, and was energetic, she would be fine. Other problems might arise: UTIs, constipation, and the disks could fully collapse causing her to lose control over her bowels and bladder altogether.
I made her a kitty wheelchair out of my other kids' old doll buggy. Annabelle liked going backwards in it more than forward, but she liked it. We put puppy pads under her, diapered her, bathed her, made special food mix up for her each meal so that she would not be constipated, but would still have a meal worth having. Twice the constipation happened: the first in the weeks following the ER visit (those meds also helped cause it) and once a few months ago. We did the best to help her get though them and she did. She had a couple UTIs, but only in the first couple months and then one in her last few days. In the middle, for all of those months, not one. They were amazed. They could tell how much I loved her and took care of her that she was not getting them.
Annabelle lost her sight on April 9th of this year. She had a seizure and when she came out of it she could no longer see. She adapted, she adjusted, again- as long as she knew I was near she was fine. During the times I could not be with her she was in the pack and play that belonged to my younger daughter. While she didn't like not having her roam around, it was the safest. At night she still slept in the bed with me- we used the bed rail that had belonged to my daughter who has autism and she slept on a puppy pad. The only problem was she liked to wake me up to get water sometimes by poking me in the eye with her paw (or IN my mouth) since she couldn't see where she was putting it. When anyone saw her they could not tell that she had lost her sight, she followed my sound and always knew where I was.
Annabelle fought through everything, but in the last couple of days she was in pain. We do not know if it was back or kidneys, but she was hurting. She was so scared, but she was fighting to stay with me. When her Papa would hold her, she would get so upset- only Mama. I stayed up with her through 2 nights hoping and praying that we were wrong and that she was 'only' constipated again, but we both knew better.
She didn't want to leave me. She cried for me to not leave her. She held onto me with every bit of strength she had. She should have died that second night. Her breathing was shallow, she was holding onto me with her paws and claws, her body was saying "I'm done", but her mind and soul fought it all night. She never wanted to leave me. Papa and I said to her, enough and at 10:05 on June 4, 2009 her beautiful, wonderful, loving, caring, intelligent soul left her body.
Years ago when I was in college I was given an assignment in my woodworking class to make a wooden box with certain specifications. I always said after that should I lose Annabelle I would use that for her because she deserved to be buried properly. And that is what we laid her in. She has the Hello Kitty fabric she loved to lay on, her favourite toys (her fishy on a string and a balled-up hot-chocolate packet, her favourite to play with, bat around, and hide in my shoes so that I would have to play with her with it instead of leaving the house), a note from our older daughter, a metal car from our younger daughter (loved small metal objects), one of Mama's shirts, some of Mama's hair to have over her face and snuggle in her paws, Mama's in-hair toy (a hair wrap, she loved when I had those in), and a flower becuase she loved the smell of flowers.
I finished the lid for her box and started her grave. I never wanted to make that lid, ever. I look everywhere for her. I swear I hear her meowing for me. I can't sleep right without her- I never have, I don't know how to be without her. How many parents do as much for their natural children? I see the evidence of the uncaring all around me, even on my own street. I LOVE her. I cared for her just like I did for my girls. I feel so lost without her. I hurt without her, it hurts to breathe without her.
I love you Annabelle, I wish there was a way for you to come back home. Words can not say how much I love you and how heart-sick, heart-broken I am now. We all miss you so much. Yuri is sad without you. She keeps wondering where I took you and when you are coming home.
This is a wound that time will not heal, I will have the scar of losing you forever. Time my fade it a little, but it will always be there for everyone to see. That for a time I had the best baby-cat, the best little-girl any Mama could hope for and that I lost you and now I am broken.
I hope though that you are at peace Annabelle and that you forgive me that I could not fix you. I know you didn't want to go, but there was nothing more I could do. I am so sorry I couldn't do more. I wish I could have.