A New Day

I would be lying if I said I was anything other than really, really sad right now. SB and I have spent the last two days – the last two and a half weeks, really – trying to keep busy and cheer each other up and avoid looking at all the spots where she loved to sit or sleep or absorb heat. She was so small – especially at the end – but her absence is enormous and tangible in our little apartment. I know it will get easier, and in some ways I think it started getting easier yesterday when we left the shelter, if only because we could stop worrying AND grieving AND hoping AND making decisions and instead focus on our grief and our memories. I put her tag on my key ring so that I’ll have a reminder of her every day.

Earlier in the month I made my resolutions for 2008, but I’ve since revised them somewhat. I haven’t checked last year’s list to see how poorly I did (and it was poorly), but I’ll do that soon. My list for 2008:

1. Read two books for pleasure each month.
2. See 12 movies in the theatre.
3. Take a trip west of the Mississippi (and also west of Iowa).
4. Go to Bonnaroo or Coachella.
5. Put $5,000 in savings by the end of the year (sub item: and leave it there).
6. Finish Couch to 5K and run a 5K.
7. Continue weight training and do an unassisted pull up.
8. Finish my CAS.
9. Get published.
10. Find a church.
11. Reconsider therapy and/or medication.
12. Beat SB at Zooloretto or Alhambra.
13. Finish 2007’s Bond-watching resolution.

I guess most of these are more like action items than resolutions, but that’s probably better anyway. I really enjoy checking things off lists. A final item:

14. Bring a new friend into our family.

We don’t want to replace Sid, but there’s a huge gaping hole in our lives without her, and we don’t want Basil to forget that other animals, especially other cats, are nice. Things feel oddly off balance with just one.

Sid is gone

We took her to the animal shelter this morning because we couldn’t get in to see our vet until Thursday. She had basically stopped eating and drinking, and the color of her urine indicated that her kidneys were shutting down. She was falling when she tried to get onto or off of things, and was doing a scary panting thing whenever we picked her up.

Everyone at the shelter was very nice and gave us as much time as we needed before, during, and afterwards. They had to give her a tranquilizer because she fought them for the injection, but after that she could barely hold her head up. We pet her and comforted her until she was gone, and then held each other and just sobbed.

Sid, wherever you are, we love you very much and are so grateful that you shared our lives, even if it was just for a little while.

Sickie baby

Day 6 -7/29/07

Shane and I spent three hours at the vet last night with Sid. Her appetite has been down dramatically in the last two weeks, and the last few days she’s been lethargic and stuffy and sneezy.

She’s lost more than 1lb since March, which is a lot when you only weigh 7 lbs to begin with. The vet did blood work, and she’s dangerously anemic – almost to the point of needing a transfusion. The test for feline HIV and feline leukemia came back negative, but the latter can be a false negative, and the only way to know for sure is from a bone marrow sample.

What we’re hoping is that she responds to antibiotics, in which case it’s bacterial, and we’ll do a couple more tests to allow the vet to target her meds. They sent us home with two aggressive antibiotics and an appetite stimulant, and we’re pushing food on her at regular intervals.

If she doesn’t show improvement in a few days, it’s probably feline infectious peritonitis. There’s no cure or treatment, and once a cat starts showing symptoms, the end will come quickly. If it’s FIP, a transfusion would only buy her days.

While we were waiting for more lab results and holding our tiny sickie cat, a 40-something guy came out of one of the exam rooms, just shaking all over after having his little dog put to sleep. We heard him sobbing – not even sobbing – I don’t even know how to describe the noises coming from the room other than a howl of sadness. He kept going back into the room and looking at his little dog, so sad and small and still on the table.

Sid slept next to me all night last night, her tiny little body curled into mine. I barely slept at all, though she appeared to sleep deeply. This morning she was interested in her food, though she didn’t eat much. I’m going home at 1 and working from home on Monday so that I can be with her to help with meds – and adjust to the idea that if things don’t improve quickly, we will have tough decisions to make.

It’s been a hard year, and having a funny little cat waiting for me at home has been one of the few things that consistently has kept me happy and smiling. Please keep her in your prayers, if you’re so inclined.

Losing a home

I’ve been back in Champaign for a visit since Thursday night. I’m leaving in about 15 minutes on a VERY early train after a couple of very fun days with people that I love very much. Coming back was in some ways very good – I needed to be reminded that there are a LOT of people that love and care about me – and in other ways like ripping a bandaid off the wound. I guess I’ll figure out tomorrow if this was all a good idea.


When I talk about why I research social software or online communities, I like to say that I research these things to prove to my mom that the things I do online aren’t scary. In the almost ten years since I started hanging out online, meeting people via BBS or webring or the @forumz or LJ or NaNoWriMo, I’ve made a number of close friends – some, like Carrie, that I’ve met in person, and others, like Cait, that I’m still waiting to meet. There are all sorts of scary things that do go on when people meet online, but I’ve been fortunate to have overwhelmingly positive experiences. My ‘online friends’ – though I prefer to think of them as ‘friends’ – are funny, generous, creative, and kind. I’ve exchanged presents, letters, music, software, and pretty much anything you can send online or through the mail with these people that I first knew as just a screenname, but who have become a source of encouragement, comfort, laughter, frustration, and friendship despite the miles and lives between us.

My ‘online friend’ Leslie died this weekend. She hadn’t updated the advent calendar in a few days, and I was starting to worry, as were other friends. I sent her a note last night saying that I hoped she was off having adventures while we were stuck in the past. When I logged on this morning, I saw a post from another friend saying that Leslie had died over the weekend, probably of bronchitis. Her mom found her yesterday, and that’s all we really know.

I never met Leslie in person, but she always felt like the cool big sister I never had. She was encouraging during times of boy trouble, and she seemed to know everyone. She sent me software when I couldn’t afford to buy it, and I sent her cookies in return. When I posted about my house troubles, she offered the possibility of buying it from me as an investment property – an incredibly generous gesture from someone I’d never met. I had a funny Hello Kitty thing on my desk waiting to send to her for Christmas.

Paul said a while ago that when someone you know online dies, it’s hard to cope because information is so limited and more news may or may never come. I think it’s also hard to cope because there’s never a chance to say goodbye. I suppose that’s always the case with death – but with an online friend, you’re doubly deprived. I never had the chance to meet Leslie – the person she was away from the computer – and now I’ll never know what I missed. I think it’s also hard because when an online friend dies, you know there are other people who are sad, but they’re not there to give you a hug.

So goodbye, I guess. I wish I’d had the chance to know you offline – to eat one of your fantastic meals and learn more about your interesting, challenging life. My life was richer because you were a part of it, and I hope that wherever you are, you are at peace and without pain. You will be dearly missed.

update: more memories of Leslie here. I think half the Internet is mourning her today.

memento mori

My godmother will die today.

Rather, the woman who would have been my godmother will die today. Not being Catholic, she’s the closest thing I have to a godparent. Carol Johnson. We became friends in 1985 when she became a patient of my father’s. Somehow or other we connected – she had only one child, a daughter already grown, and longed for grandchildren she didn’t have. My grandparents were far away. We went out for ice cream at The Last Straw. Thus began a long and lasting friendship.

And today she is in the hospital, battling what will most likely be her last cancer – I don’t know the entire roll call, but it has included both breast and brain cancer in the 18 years I’ve known her. By her side is Roger, her husband of 55 years – we share the same wedding day – and her daughter, recently returned. Roger and Carol’s marriage has been such an inspiration to me – they’ve traveled the world together, had all sorts of interesting adventures, and when her health failed, he was there. When she had to learn to walk again, he danced with her in the kitchen. I’ve been reading John Bayley’s Iris and her Friends and Roger and Carol have been on my mind.

And now she’s passing. And I don’t know if I can go. I can go – I have time – but I don’t know if I can.

And in light of all this, it seems very selfish to still be excited about seeing Pigface tonight.