Archive for April, 2009

That our cat was coming to America with us was never in question.  She is one of us, an essential part of our family, and has been my girl — mine mine mine — since the first day I picked her up — flea-ridden, underfed, and neglected — and she visibly relaxed in my arms and gazed up at me, and the woman whose vile, stinking flat we were standing in, on one of the roughest council estates in town, exclaimed with shock, “Why, she doesn’t do that with anyone!”  And no wonder — I don’t think anyone had bothered to treat her with love in the whole of her short life so far.  But I just had — I loved her from the first moment I saw her, and she loved me back.

So the week before we moved to the US, we sent her on ahead — paying hand over fist for a professional pet-shipping company to make her journey as smooth as possible.  She went to my sister, who gladly took her in for a temporary stay of length undetermined, while we moved into our rental and got busy finding a more permanent place to live.  And though we’ve been in our own house for six months, it is only the chaos of moving and then our long seige with one illness after another that have delayed her coming home to us.  But I never once doubted she would, and I was looking forward to our reunion with the strength of all the love I hold for her.  My sister is coming up for Easter and so she could bring her with her then.  Soon… soon…  soon…

E2’s egg allergy means her MMR has to be administered by her allergist rather than her pediatrition, in another of those long, drawn out affairs that we are beginning to get used to.  First a skin prick test of the vaccine and a 20 minute wait.  Then a small amount injected just under the skin and another 20 minute wait.  And then, if all is still well, the full vaccine is injected, and we wait for a full hour, with medical staff checking on us every 10 minutes or so, to ensure that the slight amount of egg used in the solution-base is not going to send her body into a dangerous allergic spiral.

She was being such a brave girl, though she cried pitifully with each jab, and was sailing through — no reaction at all to any of the escalating tests.  At last — at last! — a trip to the allergist’s office that didn’t end in some life-altering and bitter disappointment!

When the physician’s assistant next stopped in to check on us, I asked her a few questions that had popped into my mind as we sat, waiting and bored, in that small and sterile examing room…  When I bring E1 for her yearly check next month, should we have her blood work done ahead of time or after?  Did I need to be carrying Allegra with us at all times as well, or were the Epi-pens enough on their own?  Oh, and our cat is coming home to us in a couple of weeks…  we didn’t know about E2’s allergies when she was last living with us…  is there anything to be concerned about?  Anything I should do?

“Mmmm…” she said, frowning a little.  “Well, we could do a prick test if you like.”  Suggestion made, and I agreed.  I didn’t even think about it — we might as well, as we’re here.  After all, it’s why I asked, wasn’t it?

I could hear the nurse in the hall, “Oh no! Are you trying to torture the babe?”

“No, it’s the mom’s request” came the PA’s defense and I bristled a little: I wasn’t trying to torture my daughter!  I don’t enjoy this!  It was her suggestion — hers — and I was only trying to do right my little girl, who has been through so much already.  It was the right thing to do, wasn’t it?

When the nurse came in, carrying a tray with a small vial of clear liquid and piece of metal with a razor-sharp point, she knelt down and gave my daughter a warm, beaming smile.  E2 knew better than that, and held her gaze with wide eyes and suspicion.  No fool, her — the prick came, as she knew it would, followed by her wail and fat tears that landed hot on my arm as I pulled her in tight to me and kissed her head tenderly, uselessly.

When she calmed down — only moments later — I let her down to play and went back to my knitting.  I didn’t check her arm — I didn’t even think of it.  For some reason, my mind held it on the same plane as the original question: just a precaution, just an inquiry.  But when the PA returned and turned her arm over, she drew her breath in sharply.  “Oh, that’s big.  Yeah…  no doubt about that, is there?”  And suddenly I got what this meant — what the stakes had been all along — and my stomach churned at the realisation.

We talked.  Was there…?  Well… could we…?  I was grasping at straws and I knew it, but I wanted a way — any way — to bring my lovely cat home.  She shook her head, then shrugged.  “It’s up to you.  I mean, some people try to keep the cat separated, keep it in the basement.  You could try that.  But it could mean eczema, coughing, trouble breathing… I mean, it’s up to you…  I wouldn’t, but…  Well, it’s big — it’s a big reaction.  Look at it.”  I looked again: it was big — red, raised, and angry.  For a moment, I weighed it up: her health against my need for my cat; her airways — red, raised, and angry like that — against me on a couch, with my lovely cat curled and purring in my lap.  For a moment…  And then, no… no… I knew.  I can’t make her go back to the way things were.  Her life has been so much better since we discovered her allergies, removed her allergens.  She is a different child.  She is who she always should have been.  I can’t jeopardise that.

Back in the car, I sat motionless in the driver’s seat while she waited, strapped in in the back and  confused, for Mummy to start the engine and drive.  When I’d said goodbye to my cat, just over a year ago, I’d told her it was only for a while.  It was only going to be for a while.  I hadn’t planned for it to be for forever.  Why would I?  Why would I?!?!?

I found my phone and rang M — he who has done nothing but moan about the cat coming home… the food, the litter, the cat hair…   He put all that aside and was instantly sympathetic.  And that was almost the most awful thing, because all my strength and calm melted away from me, and I was left with all the bitter disappointment of yet another visit to this bloody office, and all the raw of this move, and the final realisation that my lovely cat cannot now ever come home.  And I lent my forehead against the steering wheel and let my own tears fall, hot and fat, onto my arms.

Like so many things this past year, I miss my Agnes.




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Memes… a cop-out, yes, but so bloody handy when your muse has popped out to the pub and left you at home on your own.  I’ve been up to my eyeballs in taxes and a couple of other things and, as was tagged for this one by The Noble Savage and it fits the bill tonight, here we go…

What are your middle names?
Mine was chosen by my first father and is Russian in origin — apparently, he had a thing for Russian names.  He wanted it to be my first name, but my mother won and so it is my middle name.  M’s is ordinary and English, and I like it, even though I always have to stop and think how it’s spelled.

How long have you been together?
We’ve been together for 10 years, and married for about half that time.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
A couple of years.

Who asked whom out?
He did, while I stayed silent and willed the cosmos to make it happen.

How old are each of you?
I’m late 30s and he’s late 40s.

Whose siblings do you see the most?
At the moment, mine.  But not often, and we never saw his that often either, even when they were only 20 miles away.  We’re both people who are fairly happy to just know that the people we love are there (out there) and that they are ok.  The feelings are real, even if we don’t see them that often.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
We both misjudged each other when we met — both thought we were very different people from what we actually turned out to be — but didn’t realise it until we were already in love.  Now, we have to live with who we really are, and we both struggle with that.

Did you go to the same school?

Are you from the same home town?
Nope, other sides of the world.

Who is smarter?
I am.

Who is the most sensitive?
Mmmmm…  That’s hard to say.  I have that sensitivity that Americans have to the harsher side of British humour and get upset because of that.  But he takes things in quietly and lets them eat him from the inside out.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Where do we…?  Where do we what…?  Here, at home — both because we can’t afford to go out ever, and because I can’t eat soy so there’s only two restaurants locally that I can really feel comfortable eating in anyway.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?

From the UK to Seattle.  Boy, that’s a long day of traveling!

Who has the craziest exes?
He does, hands down.

Who has the worst temper?
I do

Who does the cooking?
I did, almost always, until morning sickness came and then he took over.  He continued through the newborn-upheaval and then the second round of morning sickness and the subsequent recurrence of newborn-upheaval.  These days, we’re much closer to 50/50, but he still complains regularly that he has to make his own dinner every night after his hard day at work, which isn’t true.

Who is the neat-freak?

Neither, but he is a compulsive thrower-out, and I am a clean-freak who is adding neat to her repertoire.

Who is more stubborn?
I am.

Who hogs the bed?
Neither.  Or… perhaps me and I don’t realise it!  Yeah, he’d probably say I do, but that’s only because I’m trying to smoosh up to him all night to stay warm.

Who wakes up earlier?
Oh, he does!!!!  He’s insane.  I hear him wake up 30 minutes before the alarm and say, “Oh well…  might as well get up…”, which is insane!!!!  Why would you get up when there’s time left to sleep?!?!?!?  Left to my druthers, I’d sleep until noon every day.

Where was your first date?
My local, for dinner.

Who is more jealous?
We’re neither of us jealous at all.  It’s such a freedom.  We were both in jealousy-based marriages before and neither of us want to be there again.  It means he can point out to me girls that he fancies and tell me he would… but I know that he won’t.  And vice versa.  There’s something about having that level of maturity and freedom and honesty in our relationship that I just love.

How long did it take to get serious?
Not long at all.  Weeks.

Who eats more?
He does.  I realise mid-afternoon that I am shaking because I’ve fed the kids but forgotten to feed myself.  Then I eat a massive dinner to make up for it.  Not good.

Who does the laundry?
I do.  I got my bloody degree in it.

Who’s better with the computer?
HA!  He hates them!  Won’t touch one with a barge pole if he can help it.

Who drives when you are together?
He does.  Or, I do if we want to talk and still go more than 30 mph.  Ahem!

I tag Verisimilitude, Wee Lass with a Latte, Prarie Road, and Little Red Buttons.

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