Thursday, April 01, 2010

Rest In Peace Romeo

Last night at 8:40pm my friend and companion for nearly 12 years passed away. Romeo was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy after suffering a saddle thrombus from which he thankfully recovered. It was simply a matter of time so my partner and I were treating symptoms. He was on Plavix and two diuretics and the last weeks of his life we rented an oxygen concentration unit and created for him a little oxygen tent to help him breath when he suffered an episode but last night the fight was simply too much for him.

It was about 12 years ago when I was living in Sacrament that Romeo found me. It was not the best of time in my life. I was with someone whose favorite past times seemed be either convincing me that I was so lucky to have him because no one else would want me or simply physically abusing me. My self esteem was nonexistent and I was so afraid of being alone because no one would want me that I put up with the mental and physical abuse. Then one day as we were going out I had to run back to the house for something and found this little white fuzzball on the welcome mat. He was so cute and so tiny. I was afraid to do anything at the moment not knowing where his momma was so I told him that if he was still there when I got back I would bring him in. Well four hours later when we returned he was in the same spot so we brought him into the house and found him something we thought he would eat, played with him a bit and then fixed him a little bed on the couch. When I woke up I found him sprawled on my tummy and when I petted him he started purring. I asked my partner if I could keep him and he begrudgingly said yes but it was my responsibility (obviously he was far too busying being a kept man to be bothered taking care of a kitty) so I set up an appointment with a vet in the area and began bonding with my new found friend. When I took him to the vet for a checkup I was asked what his name was and I said "Romeo" because he took to me quickly, always following me around, curling up in my lap, rubbing his face against mine and sleeping with me... in short showing me love.

Not long after meeting Romeo I found the strength to leave my abusive relationship.

Romeo and I had several adventures including traveling throughout the country (he was always a hit with children on the flights). When I partnered up with someone and we moved to San Diego Romeo came with us. Every day when I came home I would see him sitting in the window sill and as soon as I shut the car door he would jump down and run to the door to meet me. Regardless of the other domestic situation I was always greeted by Romeo with a purr and a rub against the leg. He would always look up at me as if to say "Welcome home daddy". Regardless of where I was in the house he would be with me, sleeping on the bed, sitting on the wash basin while I showered, in the kitchen with me when I cooked... always watching after me no matter where I was as if to tell me it would be OK, he was there to take care of me.

After six years my partner left and it was once again just Romeo and me and it seemed that Romeo, ever by my side, was closer than before. He helped me through separation and was once again watching closely anyone I brought home (somewhat embarrassingly during certain intimate moment... I think Romeo had a touch of the voyeur in him). Then I met my current partner who took to Romeo immediately and more importantly Romeo to him. It was a long engagement (well, long in gay years) and not once did Romeo voice disapproval.

After a couple of years of the three of us together and the bonds growing ever tighter Romeo had his traumatic episode where he was diagnosed with suffering the effects of a saddle thrombosis and further investigation showed he suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The prognosis was not good (about 50% of kitties who suffer the thrombosis become paralyzed and are put to sleep). My partner and I went into caregiver mode with medications and special foods, getting an oxygen concentrator for when his breathing became labored, whatever we could though I knew it was simply treating symptoms. During this time Romeo began to pull away a little bit, as if saying he didn't want us to watch him suffer. I also think he was still watching to see how my husband was reacting with me being the emotional wreck I was becoming. Fortunately for me he is made of stronger stuff and loved me even more, always giving me what I needed.

Last night it was fast. His episode didn't seem that bad, I thought I had caught it in its early stages but the medicine and the oxygen didn't seem to help as it had before. I laid on the floor next to his oxygen tend where he could see me and talked to him as he was panting. When he started to "moan" I told my husband through a waterfall of tears that it was time, I couldn't see him suffer any more. We quickly dressed, not more than 5 minutes total time but when we checked on him before taking him to the car he wasn't breathing. I reached in and petted him but there was no response. My friend, my protector, my Romeo was gone.

After bundling him up in his carrier we drove to the ER. It was like being in a funeral procession. I was losing it, my partner silent but his eyes were tearing up. We made it to the ER and after being taken into a private room I lost it. My partner made the arrangements and we said our goodbyes. When we got home we watched videos we had made of Romeo, talking about him and what he meant. Later that night I kept expecting to hear his paws patting on the floor and then feeling the thump on the bed as he joined us as he had for many years. When it didn't happen I cried myself to sleep.

This morning isn't any easier... the empty kitty bed in the living room where he would sometimes lay, the empty shelf in the TV console where he would curl up while we watched television, the kitty carrier, the food dish, all of the physical things showing me that he really was here and it wasn't all a dream or my imagination. These I have to deal with. I'll talk to his vet about the possibility of donating his personal effects to kitties less fortunate... I think he would like that.

In A Grief Observed the Christian writer C. S. Lewis provides us insight into his own hellish grief he experienced during the time following the death of his wife. As in the death of my own father I again with Lewis as things like

"Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'

Our elders submitted and said, 'Thy will be done.' How often had bitter resentment been stifled through sheer terror and an act of love — yes, in every sense, an act — put on to hide the operation?

Of course it's easy enough to say that God seems absent at our greatest need because He is absent — non-existent. But then why does He seem so present when, to put it frankly, we don't ask for Him? "

And...

"But I find that this question, however important it may be in itself, is not after all very important in relation to grief. Suppose that the earthly lives she and I shared for a few years are in reality only the basis for, or prelude to, or earthly appearance of, two unimaginable, supercosmic, eternal somethings. Those somethings could be pictures as spheres or globes. Where the plane of Nature cuts through them — that is, in earthly life — they appear as two circles (circles are slices of spheres). Two circles that touched. But those two circles, above all the point at which they touched, are the very thing I am mourning for, homesick for, famished for. You tell me, 'she goes on.' But my heart and body are crying out, come back, come back. Be a circle, touching my circle on the plane of Nature. But I know this is impossible. I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace. On any view whatever, to say, 'H. is dead,' is to say, 'All that is gone.' It is a part of the past. And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death, and Heaven itself is a state where 'the former things have passed away.'

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand. "

But in the end the experiences of having loved, been show what love is like, learning through the relationship becomes evident and we have an even greater strength to make it through life than we had before. If you haven't read it I suggest you do, it is powerful and moving.

Personally (and no I can't support it with any amount of theological certitude) I think Romeo knew he could pass on the job to talking care of me to my husband. Romeo was sent to me when I most needed someone to love me. He was always with me, seemingly closer when times were harder. He was the one who always watched for me, the one happy to have me around. After two and a half years with my partner I think Romeo knew I had finally found someone who loved me as unconditionally as he did, someone he could trust to watch over me, to care for me and protect me. He was confident that he would lay his weary and sickly body down and go to his reward knowing that I would continue to be surround by love.

I miss you my friend and if my best wishes come true I will see you again. Until then I will see you in my mind's eye strong and bright eyed, chasing butterflies and resting in God's light purring with contentment.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Passing Of My Father

This morning my father breathed his final breath and departed this world. For those of us who believe Scripture and who do not "in this life only... hope in Christ" (1 Cor. 15:19a) he is in a better place. Even the most secular minded among us can say that he no longer suffers, but the placing of his, and my own, faith in puts the outcome immeasurably better than the simple cessation of pain and struggle. His passing is one of a change of address. That which really is my father is simply no longer housed in the body that I have known for 47 years, but is with the one who made the body of Adam from dust. He is enjoying the presence of his Lord and Savior. I don't view him as "gone" but rather he has stepped away for a while but I will see him again some day. I don't say "adieu" but rather "au revoir" (though I suppose in one technical sense "adieu" fits if one takes its literal translation of "to God"... but enough of my Sheldon side for the moment).

I haven't cried, even when I returned to pick up his remaining personal items after my mom and sister had left and I kissed him goodbye. I feel sad but no tears. I kept expecting to see him breathe again, thinking that it was simply a pause of breathing caused by the morphine. When I reached a 10 count I came back to reality knowing that he indeed passed. I called my partner and talked to him. I didn't cry and he did his best to comfort me but I didn't really feel like I needed comforting. I wrote an email to my boss and told her I would be taking bereavement leave and since my family home is out of cell coverage I would not be able to work. I didn't cry.

Honestly, at the moment, I don't feel "sad". I don't feel a sense of loss. I worry about my mother and my sister, my two young nephews (one of whom I know does not fully understand what happened tonight so part of my duty now is to help him through this), but I do not cry. I know it is coming, but now is not my time. It was the same way wither Jerry when after a long battle with AIDS he ceased his struggles and passed away in my arms. I didn't cry then. I had responsibilities that precluded succumbing to emotional despondency but it did come (so do not worry about me, I know there is still some part of me that is human). Probably after I return to San Diego a time will come when I walk down to the beach and do my own impression of Demosthenes though rather than simply practice oration there will come a cry from me that will shake the foundations of the palace of Poseidon in ways it has not seen since the war with the Titans.

What will take time will be getting used to the idea that I cannot call poppa to talk about Mizzou sports or make fun of Democrats. I can't call to tell him of the little triumphs I will have or to seek his advice. When I talk to mom I will have to catch myself before I blurt out "you and dad" or "tell poppa I said 'hi'".

It's 2:43 AM and my mind is weary yet amazing in what it pulls up from its depths in times like this. Rather than try to make sense of it I will close with the following quotes (I may butcher parts so please excuse the typing and punctuation):

"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first-fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." - 1 Corinthians 15: 19 - 26

Thy name is not among the great, as some count greatness,
Neither pen nor sword have brought thee glory,
No man called thee lord, with press of lackeys fawning at they gate.
...
Thine was a loftier dower — a nobler fate.
And tribute shall be paid in hearts, not gold.
And of such kind we pay thee of our best.
Let Caesars take their homage as of old.
They have their pleasure,leave to God the rest.
Content thee, if through ages yet untold,
The little children rise and call thee blest.
- Alsager Hay Hill

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can.
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.
- Bilbo Baggins (JRRT)

Good night poppa.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm Been Saying Something Similar For A Long Time...

Just be sure to stick around for the end...

Protect Marriage, Protect Children, Prohibit Divorce - watch more funny videos

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Ban Stands

This just in...

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California's supreme court backed a ban on gay marriage on Tuesday, ruling six-to-one that a voter-approved proposition defining marriage as between a man and a woman could stand.

The court, which last year unexpectedly opened the door to same-sex unions in the most populous U.S. state, bowed to the rule of the majority of California voters who passed the ban known as Proposition 8 last November.

But the court also said the roughly 18,000 marriages that took place in the state before the November ban remained valid since the ban was not retroactive.

(You can read the full report here)

How sad, but I knew this would be the outcome. Now two fights will brew over the next campaign cycle, one from each side... one, to reverse Prop 8 (that is, another California constitutional amendment), and two, to nullify the existing gay marriages that have been allowed to stand since California does not recognize marriage outside of the heterosexual definition.

Think of what this has created in a supposedly "liberal" state. California is not liberal in any known sense of the word. As I said at the BBQ Sunday, California is not liberal, it's loony. We have Prop 13 but then we have communities with Mello-Roos attached to get around Prop 13. We now have a set of circumstances where a small subset of same-sex couples are married but no more can be. We have married gays in this state, but the state does not acknowledge same-sex marriage from any other state. This isn't liberal, this is split-personality if not outright schizophrenia.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Agree

In all the flak over the Miss U.S.A. competition where Perez Hilton was a "judge", I honestly feel that Ms Prejean came out the better. Though I disagree with her, she simply stated what she believed was right in the matter of allowing same-sex marriage. Mr. Hilton simply showed how classless he is with his rabid retort which I was saying he did primarily to promote his own "celebrity". I was feeling rather alone in my assessment as proponents of each side of the issue took what they wanted and attacked like starving dogs over a bone. I was glad to read this editorial. I may be in the minority but at least I am not alone :-)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Braggin' Again

My oldest nephew was given honorable mention for All District Honors in basketball, quite an honor when you consider it was voting by the entire district as well as the regional sports press.

The similarities between him and myself are obvious. :-)

Monday, March 23, 2009

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