Thursday, 22 November 2012


21st November 2012


The vet and the nurse were loving and gentle. It was terrible - so much worse than I expected. My husband says he thought our pussy cat  passed peacefully after the injection. When his eyes went black. When his little wheezy chest stopped going up and down. And I couldn’t believe he wasn’t just sleeping curled up on his red check blanket on the kitchen counter. And any minute now he’d wake up and jump down and saunter off to his food bowl.

And then I thought we’d done the wrong thing and made a terrible mistake and it was too late. Like I’d pulled my own arm off. And he’d never forgive me. I thought I’d feel relief and gratitude after he’d gone. I didn’t expect to be felled by this avalanche of grief. To sink into this huge aching space, this deep raw cavity......

Later we wrap his blanket round him and lift him into the cardboard box - he feels surprisingly heavy -  and lay yellow heads of chrysanthamums on his fur and place hearts of rose quartz crystal next to his feet. And leave him where he usually sleeps in the flickering light of the razor shell candle flame. Till tomorrow.

My husband brings back Wagamamma supper but I’m not hungry. I keep thinking I can hear our pussy cat padding across the kitchen floor with his scratchy claws.

And now I feel so comforted and touched by all the phonecalls and emails and texts from our dear loved ones that I can feel all my guilt and remorse draining away bit by bit. And then maybe I can start to feel the radiant light and the love of our beloved Flapjack. 

Where ever he is, always.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Furry Comma

21st November 2012 Wednesday

This morning I find water dripping down the walls in the utility room. Plastic roof leaking. All the boxes of the pussy cat food are sodden. And the wooden picture frame. Our builder can’t come till next week and doesn’t know which day. The lawn looks like a lake.

Later the sun comes out briefly and my husband takes a spade out of the shed and digs a squarish hole in the ground at the bottom of the garden under the trellis by the compost heap. He strikes roots of climbing rose and honeysuckle and clumps of sticky red clay but we decide it will be deep enough for our pussy cat in his box. I imagine him curled up inside it like a sleeping furry comma. It feels surreal to be doing this.

Tonight I leave the fire on by his bed. My husband nearly blows out the tall razor shell  candle which has been burning on the kitchen windowsill for two days, but I stop him in time. My brother gave us this candle and I want to keep it alight for our pussy cat -  to honour him -   till it’s time for him to go.

Tomorrow evening. I wish he would die in his sleep tonight. Then the rain pounding on the plastic roof, splashing off the walls, won’t keep him awake. And I won’t have to go through the day knowing it’s his last and is it the right thing to do.....

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


20th November 2012 Tuesday

Feeling wretched.  

This evening I take the pussy cat to the vet. The mucus constantly dripping form his nose is stained red with blood. He is wheezing and sneezing - spattering the skirting boards, the  kitchen floor, his water bowl. She gives him a different antibiotic injection but says it may not work and takes a swab from his nose to send away for analysis. She weighs him. He has lost nearly 300g since last time. He shits in his carrier on the way home in the car.

I put him in the sink and try to clean him with warm water and cat wet wipes. He tries to drink out of the tap and soaks his head. He is so fragile and wobbly he falls over trying to get to his food bowl.

When my husband comes home from his walk we sit on the sofa and talk and cry. I know I can’t bear to watch our pussy cat get worse and worse and do nothing.

We sit with him on the kitchen floor and talk to him. My husband strokes his head. After a while he moves away and sits with his back to us. We make tea at the table. The pussy cat  keeps his back to us and meows a little. Then he turns and looks at me straight in my eyes. A look that brings my tears. And then I feel he knows too.

Much later I speak to our  lovely South African vet who has been treating him from the beginning.

I think it’s time, I say.

If that’s your gut feeling you must go with it,  he says.

We agree a day and a time.

But I still feel wretched.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Dank Mist

19th November 2012 

It’s a dank afternoon. Wind blowing misty rain into my face under my umbrella as I walk into town. My fingers freeze inside my gloves. When I arrive in the warm cosy room at the Mind and Body Centre my councellor makes me hot mint tea. She asks me to rate my energy levels out of ten. At first I say five. Then two. 

Why not zero? she asks.

It’s not in my genes to give up totally, I say.

She laughs because she knew my father.

What would raise it to a three - your energy level?

Not feeling bad all the time.

At the end of the session she says that during the whole hour I was most alive when I spoke about going away with my sisters to Portugal next week. That and talking about the boundaries I am drawing for myself about my husband and drinking alcohol.

She recommends bringing some lightness and laughter to our situation. Choosing it the way it is....not being a victim.

Sounds like a plan to dredge myself out of this creeping fear which sometimes overwhelms me like a dank mist.....

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bad Hair Day

18th November 2012 Sunday

How was your day? asks my husband in the bath. 

We have spent most of it together. I carry on brushing my teeth - don’t know how to answer him.

Sometimes his lost words make it like a bad hair day - it colours everything. So when we are walking in the sun swept, open, parkland of Knights Hayes Court, kicking through thick carpets of bronze beech leaves, I feel prickly and sad and distant - missing the autumn beauty all around me.

In the car I give up trying to explain what puppets are, sparked by mention of Spitting Image on the radio. My husband used to write sharp and funny political material for a late night satirical show in London - in another long ago lifetime.

We have a constant yoyo conversation about what to do about the pussy cat.....his thin, big-eyed face is also colouring my day like a dark uncertain stain.

And I keep thinking about my dear friend whose daugher is unbearably ill......

Later when my husband is making a list of his wierd and wonderful ceramics for his exhibition he asks me,

What are thos things near God with wings? I think it starts with A. It’s not ambulance is it?

Angels, I say....

reminding me that bad hair days always pass but the hum of angel wings never ceases.....I just need to stop and listen.

And my hair does need cutting.......

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Lost Art

 13th November 2012

I’m making a fresh green curry patste - lots of coriander and garlic and chilli....slicing up long finger aubergines and the dense flesh of a crown prince squash the colour of sunsets...preparing tomorrow night’s supper for my friend from Scotland who is coming to stay for a few days ....and I’m thinking about the faces of the newest and smallest people in  my life.
Yesterday I saw the tiny sleeping face of my great niece, who is just four weeks old, and her shining parents, bright on a computer screen - as if they are with us in my nephew’s kitchen - and not in Beirut where they actually are.

And I watch the face of my great nephew, who is eighteen months old, as he sits next to me in his mother’s car pushing the buttons and turning the knobs on the dashboard with his little fingers totally absorbed in his adventure, everything new and exciting.

He doesn’t need to learn to live in the present..... I wonder when I lost that art....and if it’s possible to learn it again....and let the past go.....leave it behind in the country where it belongs and just love each moment without it being good or bad - each one a smile in my heart....

Sunday, 11 November 2012


11th November 2012

The pussy cat is doing his best. My husband says he’s put on weight when he lifts him onto the counter top for me to squirt his antibiotic down his throat. It’s for his runny phlemy nose but it’s not working. He’s calmer since we stopped taking him up and down the stairs for a drink.  I sat with him for a long time on Friday and talked to him in my head - letting him go, trusting him to guide me...

Tonight I light a candle for me and my husband while he is downstairs and I am upstairs.....
asking for help with this surrender thing which feels like abandonment but could set me - and him -  free....losening the octopus tentacles I’ve wound round sticky sucker at a time....

Saturday, 10 November 2012


10th November 2012

Today we are using my nephew's gift of our National Trust Membership. We walk around the kitchen gardens at Barrington Court -  a fifthteenth century house which fell into wrack and ruin and was bought and renovated by the Lyle family of the of the Tate and Lyle sugar company. The sun streams onto rows of huge red cabbages, rather slugged leeks and the bright orange papery domes of straggly cape gooseberries. The air is icy in the shade.

In the cafe I send back my horrid butternut squash soup as it’s luke warm  - it comes back hot but still horrid - too much medicinal thyme flavour.

At the entrance desk to the house the woman offers us two printed tour guides. My husband refuses his,

I can’t read, he says

She laughs but I don’t think she knows why.

We wander through the oak panelled corridors and empty echoey rooms with huge arched fireplaces and up and down turret staircases with twisted barley spindles. My husband mostly gazes out of the mullioned windows at the lovely views beyond with all the trees in their soft gold and bronze colours.

On the way home we stop at Tesco’s in Honiton to buy catfood.  We have a row in the middle of the wine aisle. My husband puts 3 huge bottles into the trolley. He says its a good deal, really cheap wine. I read the labels - it’s English fortifed wine. Even when I tell him what it is -  that it’s not wine it’s like sherry, sweet sherry -  he doesn’t believe me and says he wants it anyway. I feel my anger like liquid murder rushing through my heart.

At home I make supper. He drinks a lot of the fortified wine. He asks me why I don’t want any.

Now he’s sleeping and I’m the one with the headache which of course will only be relieved by a dose of forgiveness....but tonight I’d rather fortify myself with draught poison -  killing myself off in the sea of my own rightousness...... diving into the archives of my grievances where I gather the evidence of all those years of believing myself unfairly treated....drowning in poor me.....Uck.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Happy Ever After

8th November 2012

Today is another wonderful birthday treat from my sister and her huband.  After fish and chips at Monty’s on the Barbican in Plymouth we sit in the dark at the Theatre Royal, the curtain rises on Mathew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky’s music thunders around us and I’m totally transfixed by the dancers flying and leaping and swirling across the  stage in glorious gothic costumes.....plunged into the fairy tale unfolding in front of us......forgetting everything.....waiting for the prince/gardener ( because it’s Mathew Bourne) to defy the bad fairy and wake his sleeping Aurora.

I love every minute of being out of the heaviness of my usual day -  wish I could be as light as that tiny slip of a princess, lifted again and again into the air by strong and trusted arms...up there where the view is clear....and  there is always a happy ever after....

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Gratitude and Emptiness

7th November 2012

Another low calorie day.

Have you lost any weight? I ask my husband this morning.

I don’t know.

Why don’t you weigh yourself?

Because I want to go listen to the 9 o’clock news and see if Professor Thingy has won the American thing.

President Obama you mean?

A few minutes later he shouts up the stairs that he won. 

I like seeing my husband with a reason to get out of bed.

I dread what I’ll find when I come down to the kitchen in the mornings. Usually takes 45 minutes to clean up after the pussy cat.  Not too bad this morning......lots of pee to mop up this afternoon. Later I sit with him while our animal healer gives him some distant healing and I find myself full of gratitude for his presence in our lives all this time and for teaching me how to keep on loving when it stops being easy.......

I’m really really hungry tonight after my 500 calories.......but it’s only emptiness...not serious.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Walking Alone

6th November 2012

We walk in quiet woods this afternoon, along muddy paths lined with beech trees their leaves fluttering bronze and gold. We hold hands and talk about our pussycat who peed in his bed this morning. I’m choked with tears and memories of my father. It was this week a year ago that he was admitted to hospital to have a catheter fitted - the beginning of his decline.....

I hurl myself into the future - imagine life without our 16 year old pussy cat.....then try and imagine my life without my husband who walks and talks beside me now.

Knitted into that future I see myself walking alone in these woods - with two cold hands instead of one  - tucked into the warm cave of his....

Monday, 5 November 2012

Burnt Out

5th November 2012

I feel like one of those fireworks going off outside fuse is so short it doesn’t take much for me to blow up and snap at my husband....

Will you stroke the pussy cat - I’m trying to get lunch...

I will in a minute  - I’m putting stuff away....

But a minute is too long - I can’t bear it for a second when the pussy cat squeaks at my ankles asking for something....asking for attention, when I’m hungry when I’m busy..... when I can’t find room in my heart to love him.....

I stroke him anyway - acid with resentment.....

I take him to the vet tonight, driving through rush hour traffic - dark already. The vet says there’s nothing to be done about the peeing point in doing more blood could be his kidneys but he’s eating well so that doesn’t fit with a kidney problem.....

He says some vets euthenaise too readily - euthenasia is a priviledge and only to be used as a last resort - but he’ll do it whenever we think it’s the right time.....probably if our cat stops eating.....

But our cat just pees in his basket on the way home, eats a big bowl of Felix and scatters grey litter pellets across the kitchen floor, in his bed, up the stairs...... and looks at me with his dull wide eyes. All I can see there is my own abandonment, neglect and guilt... 

I wish I was a sparkler tonight insead of this burnt out catherine wheel with a blotchy red face...

Sunday, 4 November 2012

This Sunday

4th November 2012 Sunday

We were going to have breakfast in bed like we used to sometimes on a Sunday but we talk instead, eating into the morning hours - our new curtains, pale silken waterfalls, drawn against the sunlight coming and going outside. My husband says I’m angry and upset all the time and I blame him and the pussy cat for everything wrong in my life, he doubts my love. I can’t deny it. The truth lies between us like a peace offering.

I want to read my novel. He wants to walk. We meet up later in the kitchen for poached eggs on toast interrupted by taking the pussy cat up and down the stairs for a drink in the bath.

My nephew calls and we comiserate about pussy cats. They have two and one of them is spraying in the house, one of them is pulling out her fur. It feels less lonely knowing we aren’t the only ones living day by day with distressed creatures - not knowing what to do for the best....

We visit dear friends - celebrating the completion of their beautiful new kitchen....

Later my sister joins us and we sit in hard pews at the back of a Honiton church for a service remembering those who died this year -  a roll call of names - one of them my father. I think about my big sister on a plane to Beirut to visit her new grand-daugher and my brother in Fiji on a spiritual retreat and I remember our father more easily in them than here in this big draughty building on a cold wet Sunday night in a small Devon town.  Like my grandfather 'had the sun in him', I’m glad my father had Africa in him  -  the place I remember him best....

Friday, 2 November 2012

Give Up Guilt?

2nd November 2012

Second intermittent fasting day but too busy to make our meals anything other than joyless. Too cold for salad but we eat it anyway and count out 5 walnuts - 10 for my husbad -  for protein. Gingered up cod and broccoli for early supper. The evening stretches ahead with nothing to look forward to....I hoover up a couple of raisins and hazelnuts from the gribbles of the flapjack I’m cutting up for tomorrow’s Christmas Fayre. 

I’m tense, grumpy, on edge, at screaming point all day with the pussy cat. He starts to cry at the closed kitchen door wanting to go upstairs to drink out of the bath - a terrible howling sound. The towel thing isn’t really working - I want him to drink from his bowl. It’s a battle of wills. I give in finally  - I wouldn’t leave a baby to cry for a second - what am I doing  - so what if he gets soaked? So what if he pees on the floor - at least it isn’t the carpet.

I’m asking myself what this little furry creature is trying to tell me. I really don’t know but some words came tonight when I asked him in my head what can I do.

It’s time to give up guilt.

Guilt about everything. I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to not feel bad about all my I said I’d make mincemeat to sell at the Fayre but I didn’t. Feeling guilty is insane and pointless and only hurts me....wonder why it’s so addictive....wonder how you do it.

Think I just heard the pussy cat squeaking downstairs. But I’m going to bed....and trust that all is well and things are unfolding as they should....

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Whingeing To Surrender

1st November 2012

After our Deeksha meditation this evening we all sit round in a circle with cups of tea and delicious fruit cake. I’m astonished when my husband talks fluently and coherently about the state of the economy, the stock market, the banks. It was his area of expertise.  He knows all the people in the group but not all their names and it’s a safe familiar place. But he has no recollection of giving a lecture to a churchful of people a few years ago about his beliefs about money. And when we all start talking about crop circles he has no idea what they are so the conversation passes him by moment he’s in the light and the next he’s in the dark....shut down by a word which has lost its meaning...

I’ve been thinking about this blog....notice I’ve started to whinge a bit.....complain about my father once wrote to me that he saw pain but no self pity in my I suppose I feel I’m somehow letting him down now by feeling sorry for myself.....poor me - husband with a brain disease and sick pussy cat peeing everywhere. Don’t know how to say it really - except that tonight I hate everything, I don’t want it to be like this and no matter how much I tell myself that it won’t change till I accept that this is how my life is now, I can’t or rather I won’t do it.....that old familiar phrase - What you resist, persits -  feels like my motto.

But because I still want my father to be proud of me - however mad that sounds  - I’m going to find a way through - even if it means I have to risk whingeing all the way to surrender, and someone else has to read it.....