Monday, July 16, 2012

Sorrow and Joy...

Friday the 13th turned out to be as bad a day as the date could possibly imply. After noticing that our cat, Titch, had been off her food for a couple of days and appeared to breathing quite quickly and with a great deal of effort, we took her to the vet on Friday morning. The vet examined her and said that her body temperature was over 10 degrees lower than normal, her lungs were working overtime and, most telling of all, she was severely anemic. These are all signs of the final stages of feline leukemia. Titch had had the vaccine, of course. But she had come to her previous owners as a rescue cat and the vet said that in many cases, rescue cats have not been vaccinated and that rescue kittens, particularly if they had been feral or born to a farm cat, can be born with the virus. He said that we had several options, they could always take blood and put her on a drip, but the outcome would be the same and it would be imminent. We didn't want to put Titch through the pain and anxiety of being in a strange place and going through all the discomfort of procedures that would do nothing more than extend her life briefly. We made the agonising decision to have her put to sleep. The vet allowed us to stay with her and I held her and stroked her, even eliciting a purr, before she had to be placed on the table, her foreleg shaved to expose the vein, weak and nearly collapsed. I continued to stroke her as the needle went in and I pray that the last thing she saw was my face, tears streaming down my cheeks and heard me tell her how much I loved her. She slipped away immediately. The vet said we could stay with her for a while if we wished and we did. We stroked the empty shell that had held her spirit and cried, noticing the vet wiping his own eyes. And then we said goodbye. He showed us out through a back door so the waiting patients and their owners didn't have to see us in our state of mourning.

That night, as I laid in bed trying hard to not think about how sad I felt, Titch's presence became very obvious. She had always come to the bedroom at night when I went to bed so she could have her evening cuddles. She would sometimes lie on my chest and purr as I stroked her glossy black coat. She would then excuse herself to spend most of the night sleeping on the deep window sill in our bedroom. During the night, I would be aware of her jumping up beside my pillow from time to time. Friday night, she jumped up on the pillow again. It was so real, I found myself reaching around to stroke her. But, of course, she wasn't there. That being said, I shared this story on my Facebook page and everyone came back saying that, of course, she had been there in spirit. Not only to let me know that she is still with me, but to make sure I was okay. Am I? Well, I miss her terribly and I as I type this, the tears are streaming down my cheeks again. But I know we did the right thing...she is not in pain anymore. And I will remember her always as my little "parrot".  Whenever I would sit on the sofa, she was always right there behind me, with her paws on my shoulder, purring contentedly. From time to time, she would meow softly and headbutt my face, rubbing the top of her head against my cheek. Darling Titch - very much loved and very much missed.

But, life is a constant flow of sorrow and joy and on Saturday we traveled to the west coast to check out a house that was for rent. The three-bedroom bungalow is located in Ormiscaig, along the road leading out to the sea from the village of Aultbea. I had spoken to the owner on Friday afternoon (trying not to let my voice crack, because I was still painfully sad from Titch's death). He was charming...a gentleman from the north of England who, like us, had fallen in love with Scotland and went there to retire. He lives in the converted garage behind the house he had once occupied.

We arrived in Ormiscaig at the appointed time of 1pm and Tony greeted us and took us the short walk to the bungalow and we waited for the current occupant to let us in. We were thrilled with the house. The furniture is there for us as well, including an upright piano that will get much use from Chris and from my stepdaughter, Lucy, when she visits.

The Bothie - our new home
So, the bungalow is now ours. I paid the rental deposit today and we will be moving in on 1 September. This is the culmination of six years of dreaming on our parts. Chris and I have longed to be in the highlands and attained that goal in September of last year. And this September, the final tweaking of the dream becomes real. Over the past year, it has been in on the west coast that we have cultivated a circle of dear friends and it is there that our businesses have been so welcomed.

I believe more than ever that life presents us with the opportunities to make our dreams come true. Bit by bit, the path we are to travel is revealed to us. From the first time we attended a market in the area, we knew that we wanted to be there. And now we will be. I just wish Titch could go with us, but, then again, I am sure she will be with us wherever we go.

The view from the Bothie - Loch Ewe, the Isle of Ewe
and the Torridon Hills