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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Going offline for a while, maybe

I barely slept at all last night, tormented by thoughts of poor Gretchen. At one point I woke up to the sound of a cat's yowls. I got out of bed and began to head for the back porch to see if Gretchen was clawing at the plastic I had wrapped her in, injured but alive. But then I remembered...no. She was dead. Definitely dead.

I woke up this morning many times. 5:00. 5:30. I knew that the overtime message would not be final until 8:00, so I forced myself to stay in bed until then. I called, and my name was listed. So I would need to get more sleep for the long night ahead.

But not yet. First I had to bury Gretchen.

I found a spade in the garden shed and picked a spot near the wheelbarrow where Socks had kept Gretchen and Rachel when they were kittens. I would need the wheelbarrow to hold the dirt - but first I had to shoo away the skunk that was under the wheelbarrow. Skunk. Need to surround the body with stones to keep the skunk away.

I began digging. The ground was soft from all the rain, but I had to contend with stones and roots from the nearby lilac and arbor vitae. Some of the stones were larger than a softball. One was the size of a small pillow. That's the headstone.

I dug deep. As deep as I could, though probably not as deep as I should have. I gently placed her carefully-wrapped body in the hole, apologizing to her a thousand times as I did. I then surrounded the body with stones and began slowly shoveling dirt around her. When I had covered the body with an even layer of soil a few inches deep I placed a large rectangular paver on top of it, and then continued to fill the hole with soil and stones. When all the soil was in the hole I tamped it down as best I could with the shovel. Then I placed the headstone on top of where Gretchen's body is, and another stone just below.

And that was that.

My mom and I picked roses and put them on the grave. I took pictures. Came in. Changed out of my dirt-covered clothes. Sat down to write a post.

I don't know if I'll be posting as regularly as I have been. This has knocked me for a loop. I've also got a friend who I can only communicate with offline, through letters, for the next three-and-a-half weeks. I plan on writing a lot of letters, though I will have to choose my topics carefully. I don't think I should tell her about Gretchen. But those letters will consume a lot of my time. And I'm working overtime, today and probably tomorrow. Maybe August 19th as well.

On August 20th I have a vet's appointment scheduled. A follow-up for Gretchen and Rachel. I guess I'll have to let them know that Gretchen won't be coming.

So, anyway. I don't know if I feel up to keeping up the post-a-day pace of this blog, and Facebook, and everything else. Maybe I need to step back for a while. I don't know.

What I do know is I have to try to get a little more sleep right now.

1 comment:

anne said...

Aw, dammit. I finally get a chance to sit down with a cup of joe and think "Maybe I'll check Harold's blog and try to get caught up on things." And this.

I'm so, so sorry. It's so hard when we take on the care of animals, particularly little ones, and things go awry. Harold, try not to beat yourself up over this. Even if it was an accident, you know you would never, ever intend for anything like this to happen. You know you have a big heart when it comes to animals. I know it doesn't help make it hurt any less but you opened your heart an your home to these little creatures and quite possibly might have saved Gretchen from a much worse fate.

This is the joy and sorrow of life.

We just lost our beloved Fang (the three legged cat) and our sweet dog Jasper in July. It's been a cruel, cruel summer.