When It Rains, It Pours
So, last Wednesday, we drove up again to see him, and try to cheer him up. I was worried, as he really didn't seem to be doing well. (He had diabetes, and had developed breathing problems after beginning to take one of the medications his doctors put him on.) Still, we enjoyed the visit, and planned to come back soon and often. On Saturday evening my wife called him as she did every night to check on him, and got no answer.
This would happen sometimes, if he was asleep and didn't hear the phone, or if he was out. So she called several times, still getting no answer. We were very worried, and she left a message telling him if she didn't hear from him by the next morning we were coming up to see how he was. Well, when we heard nothing by Sunday morning, we drove up there. He'd given my wife keys in case of emergency some time ago.
We drove up, and his car was there, but he wasn't outside where he liked to sit. We went to his door and knocked and called out but got no answer. So we went in and found him lying on his kitchen floor. We called 911 at once, and the paramedics got there fairly quickly. I was outside to show them which apartment he was in, and I led them in, they came in, took one look at him, and said "He's dead." without even tryint to revive him. He'd just recently turned 66.
When the police came, and the medical examiner determined his medical condition from his doctors, he ruled that no autopsy was necessary, but the police are fairly sure he died instantly, sometime on Saturday. The world is much poorer because he is no longer a part of it, but I can't write about him right now. I'm still too upset, and trying to get used to the idea. He was the closest friend I had. I thought he might wind up in the hospital a while, but I never expected this.
What makes it all so much worse is that he had two cats. They were inside with him when it happened; they are indoor cats. They had enough time to figure out what had happened, and are traumatized. They aren't even eating much, and they are, even for cats, huge eaters. They are grieving as well for the person they loved. We'd promised him we'd see that they were taken care of if anything happened to him.
Now, I wish with all my heart, for a number of reasons, including the fact that I love those cats, and the fact that just because they were Jim's I can't bear never to see them again, that I could take them myself, but I have three cats (two of my own, and one who is my son's). They are also indoor cats; in the part of New England where I live, you keep your cats indoors (or take them out only on a leash) or see them dead in a very short time.
My cats are all young, and are fairly well adjusted, but the space we have is just about enough for them. Two are neutered toms, and each one thinks he is the boss, although their squabbles don't get out of hand. Jim's cats are both old, former strays, and one is a former street fighter, now neutered, but still with the instincts to pick a fight with any rivals. So there is no chance I can take them.
So, I called a no-kill shelter, hoping if they couldn't take them in themselves they might at least be able to offer advice. They were sympathetic, but what they told me was that at their ages, 17 and 10, and as former strays who are problematic or needy, no shelter would consider taking them in, and I'd have a hard time finding anyone else who would, either.
They were kind enough to suggest something that was too late in this case, but that I'm glad to know about: many shelters are beginning to offer programs where you donate a certain amount of money and they guarantee to take your cats if anything happens to you. However, in this case, too late. The cats are living, right now, in the empty apartment, which is about two hours, one way, from us. Morning and evening, they have to be fed...
They are loving and affectionate cats who right now desperately need reassurance and affection. I promised my friend I'd see they were taken care of. I cannot just have them killed because there is no place in the world for them. I thought, once before in my life, that I knew what it was like to be "between a rock and a hard place". I was literally physically sick from the strain. And yet, I wasn't trapped as badly as I thought; I had no idea. This is what it means to be caught between a rock and a hard place.
I can't even think straight tonight, between my grief and my worry over the cats. I'd planned to post over the weekend, but of course that didn't happen. Until I can find an answer for those poor grieving cats (perhaps my greatest weakness is this: I can't stand seeing animals grieve; if I'd seen a pet of Hitler's grieving for him, I'd even have shed a few tears) I'm going to be too busy to blog. When I have an answer, I'm going to have to catch up on work...
There is only one exception: please come back in the next few days, because I will be making the time for one very important post - an update on Red's Book.