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  • barefootbellringer

Hey, it's me. Remember me?

I've been away long enough that I had to prove to my platform provider that I was me. That was weird, and here we are.

Honestly, I'm struggling right now. My beloved cat, Sir Vincent took ill in late October. Things seemed to be getting better until they weren't. He was diagnosed with an infected tooth and infected mouth. The antibiotics did their job and unfortunately exposed a larger problem...a lesion on the back of his tongue...which was cancer.

All of this unfolded on a Tuesday. I was dumbfounded when what was meant to be a routine vet examination turned into a life or death decision. I was not prepared to make that decision that day, so I booked us in for Friday the 18th of November at 8:45 am.

Thursday my brother called to tell me our Mother's health was failing and he needed me back in Ontario asap. I had booked two weeks of retreat time from the 24th of November, so I booked a flight for the 24th to fly to Ontario.

Friday I took Sir Vincent to the vet, wrapped in a blanket. He was quiet, he had not eaten much in the previous week. He went into the back to have an IV inserted and I could hear him growling and hissing. Feisty to the end! He was brought back out, I rearranged his blanket and the vet came in.

I continued to cuddle him as the saline solution was injected into the portacath. He growled a warning and hissed. The first shot went in and he relaxed. A few minutes passed and he received the second shot. He looked into my face as I sent him all the love I had and watched as the life drained from his eyes.

I held him a few minutes more, then I gave him to the vet to be cremated and his ashes scattered in a horse field with a fabulous view of the Alberta foothills. I settled the bill, walked out to the car on a bitterly cold yet bright day, took a deep breath and cried harder than I have ever cried before. Just thinking of this brings a catch to my throat.

This is my favourite photo of the two of us. I'm trying to cuddle, he's trying to escape. Just look at those toe beans!

I met a friend for breakfast who debrief and then went home, and started cleaning, sorting and packing. I contacted a local animal rescue charity who happily received his things as a donation in his memory. You may think it was too soon, or I should have kept those things, but the pain in my heart and soul demanded they go to something good. I am not prepared to put myself through that again.

The next five days were a blur of meetings and appointments. I went to bed Wednesday night, waking at 1:00 am to drive to Calgary and catch a flight to Ontario. I had been testing for COVID every other day and had been feeling quite rough, but put it down to stress, loss and anxiety. Air travel is my least favourite form of travel.

My brother collected me at the airport, then we went back to his place. I greeted my nephews as they came in from school and we all had dinner with my sister-in-law. I dosed off at the kitchen table and decided an early night was a good idea. Woke the next morning at 10:00 am, sleeping 14 hours.

We tested for COVID as we were going to visit the facility where my Mam had moved before she went into hospital. I tested positive. Which meant banishment to the basement, separation from my family, and lots of rest, water, tea and toast. Five days later I tested again, and thanks be to God it was negative.

Went to visit my Mam twice with my sister-in-law. Friday the 2nd my brother and I went in and she was non-responsive. We were unable to rouse her. She was transferred to the "respiratory" floor, where she was diagnosed with COVID, which she had contracted from the hospital several days before.

She had a couple of hours where she roused and we had strange conversations and sang some of the old songs. And she slipped back into the dark and we waited. About 3:00 am my brother and sister-in-law decided to go home and get some sleep. I stayed and talked with my Mam. I anointed her and sang the Song of Simeon. Then I kept watch.

My brother came back at 11:30 am on Saturday and I drove home in a wicked windstorm. By the time I got there, he had called my sister-in-law and wanted her to sit with him. She returned to the hospital, and after speaking with my nephews about death and dying, I showered, changed into my pjs and went to sleep.

This photograph is of my Mam's hand with my blue hospital glove underneath it. It's resting on her lap, on top of a knitted prayer shawl I brought with me from my Parish. A few minutes after I took this photograph, I took my gloves off to hold her hand in mine.

1:59 pm on Saturday 3 December, my Mam breathed her last. My brother and sister-in-law were with her. I had gone home to sleep. Her death was peaceful and for that I am grateful. I believe she knew we were with her.

She has been cremated and there will be a family memorial service at the end of April at the columbarium where our Dad is buried in Sudbury.

As I said, it's been a rough time. I promise to write more often. I will be adding the sermons I preached over Christmas and Epiphany as they relate to Mary, the mother of Jesus. But those, are for another day.

Thanks for stopping by.

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