Thursday, April 19, 2012

Misplaced Emotion

For the past (almost) four months, Andy and I (and now, just I) have been fostering two adorable kitties (see above).  One of my friends at our partner agency at work frantically contacted me, asking how I felt about temporarily taking in two kitties: a client was unable to house them for a time, but didn't want to have to turn them into a shelter, where they would most likely be adopted and she'd never see them again.

To say I'm a softie when it comes to animals is probably an understatement.

I like animals more than I like most people. 

So, it didn't really take too much convincing, despite the fact that I hadn't consulted Andy (sorry, Andy!) and pets are not allowed in our apartment . . . it was the right thing to do.  I couldn't let that woman lose her kitties!

The terms of our arrangement have always been vague.  It might have turned into a permanent home.  We didn't have an end date, or have direct contact with the woman.  We were told their names, but still don't know which is which.  We tried to keep ourselves at arm's length . . .

. . . and failed.  Miserably.  It took all of probably 48 hours for us to fall in love with them.  And the fact that there was even that much delay came mostly from the fact that the poor kitties were so traumatized by their experience that they hid behind the bookcase for most of that time.

Yesterday, the dreaded time came.  I got the call (well, email): Mom's ready now.

I knew it was coming, so it didn't come as a surprise.  What did surprise me, however, was the intensity of my emotional reaction. 

Keep in mind that six weeks ago, I said goodbye to my husband for 4 1/2 months (with a few visits in between).  I love Andy, and I miss him every second, but I wouldn't say our separation has been heartbreaking.  This might be attributed to the fact that it's temporary and has a specific end-date, or that I'm trying to pace my loneliness (4 1/2 months is a pretty long time, after all), or that we talk / text / email / Skype / etc. all the time, but if I say so myself, I've been handling it well.  For one who tends toward emotional breakdowns, this is saying something.

I was at work when I got the news about the kitties, so I had to fight back the tears.

On my way home, I called Andy.

And cried.  A lot.  Wept, actually.  "I can't get the words out because I'm gasping between sobs" kind of crying.

The cats have been, for me, a symbolic connection to life.  I won't say that they are by any means an adequate substitute for my husband, but they wait for me at the door when I come up the stairs to the apartment, they talk to me, they snuggle me, and they show me lots of affection (as I type this, Goatee Kitty is sitting on my tummy, eyes half closed, purring).  This meant that I wasn't really alone--and that I didn't actually have to confront my loneliness. 

It looks like now I have to do just that--or find another cat.  Hmmm. 

I'm really sad.  We've bonded.  We've reached the point of ultimate trust, each knowing the other means no harm.  And I know them.  I love them.

Now I have to give them back to their real mommy, because that has been the plan all along.  Stupid plan!  I know--if you love them, you have to be willing to set them free.  Blah, blah, blah.

To make matters worse, one of them just brought me a "gift."  Bird head.  (Actually, I suppose not having bird heads in my house would be a positive.)

Maybe it's a parting gift.

Farewell, sweet kitties.  :-(