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No stopping now, this is the playoffs

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Previously ……… The starting point: Vol. 1 — Every thought is with the kid

ARCHIVES: Follow Lost kittens find their way home. Updates to follow.

—  Vol. 4  —

Thursday, May 24, 2012 …

For two people who didn’t want to go out (and I wasn’t planning on drinking), we drank angry. Jules was feeling no pain at the concert and I hit the bourbon the moment we got home. I completely lost it.

You mentioned crying in the car? I held it together on the ride home, open the garage and let Jules out. She goes inside, I immediately grab a flashlight and start looking in the yard. Quickly realizing there’s no point, I fall apart.

By time I’m inside, I’m cursing the world incoherently. Next I know, I’m upstairs screaming at the top of my lungs, writhing on the spare bed. I hear Jules crying downstairs and I only get louder. Start slamming down bourbon to deaden the pain, nothing. Must have had 5 or 6 shots in 15 minutes. Felt nothing.

I don’t know what to do today. Look in the same places I looked yesterday and Tuesday night? I most definitely will but not sure what I’ll find that I didn’t find already. She couldn’t have just gone missing, it doesn’t make sense. I plan to knock on doors, look around anywhere and everywhere. Today is the most important day of the search, people heading out of town tomorrow for Memorial Day weekend.

You mentioned birds. Maybe 6 years ago, it got dark all of a sudden so I looked out the window. A huge hawk swooped down, grabbed a squirrel off the lawn and flew to the neighbor’s tree. It ate the thing and flew off in about three minutes. That was when I still hadn’t let Bibby or Jackson outside, I needed to know what was out there.

When I finally let them explore, it was like they entered the TV screen — watching a two-dimensional world out the window every day for 9 months, finally it comes to life in 3D. I didn’t know if there were snakes, coyotes, I’d heard stories. One neighbor said they saw a copperhead about three years earlier but no longer a worry in the development. Go deep in the woods, you’ll find two of everything.

Did Jules make it to work? How you doing?

She’s home, depressed. Me too. Bibby has always been her girl, and Jackson my bud. Bibs hangs with me when I work at night, which at some point will hit me and I’ll be devastated knowing she isn’t there to do that. She’s more human than most people I know.

I found some blue plastic on the floor this morning — the shattered top from my water bottle, which I then remembered throwing on the kitchen floor in a post-bourbon rage. I spent the morning going to neighbor’s houses and whether they were home or not, opening crawl space doors and shining a light inside, calling her name. Checked some backyards, thinking like a cat: Would that be inviting? What’s different, out of the ordinary? Can I fit inside that? What’s in there?

This is as hopeless as I am powerless to do anything about it. Either she just shows up or someone finds her. Without a collar, where do they know to take her?

I talked with a neighbor and as I’m walking away, I’m a mess. He said he’s always seen Bibby walking across our lawn to the neighbor’s house, that was her route. She rarely strayed from that. When I left his house and got to our lawn, the realization hit me that she isn’t coming home. I don’t know what the fuck to do.

Sometimes I guess, you just have to accept that you’ve done all you can. There’s no easy way out of this one. Keep Jules and the other cats close and ride it out.

Jules said the same thing. She’s been in bed all day. I went to lay down with her and keep getting up, pacing around. She’s telling me to sleep and I need to but there has to be better use of my time. Like you both say, I’ve done everything I can.

Being so vocal, someone would hear her. Other reason I have a hard time sleeping is that she always lays between Jules and I, that’s her spot. First night we had her as a kitten, we locked her out of the bedroom and she cried ALL FREAKING NIGHT. Second night, we locked her out again and five minutes later, she was making room for herself in between us. She had learned how to open the door from watching us. I looked at Jules, we knew we had a crafty one. She’s never ceased to amaze me but now I feel hopeless.

I keep thinking I hear her, it started the night she went missing. Certain areas in front of the house and in the garage, I swear I can hear her. It’s all in my mind.

Now will try going back to bed, which means I’ll be writing back in 20 minutes.

Get some sleep or you’ll spiral deeper into the abyss. It’ll be tough for a while, but you guys shall overcome.

Tried to. Fell asleep, fast. Then the phone rang, not related to Bibby. No phone calls, that’s freaking me out. All the places I put our info and nothing. So here I am, wide awake, wondering what else I could be doing.

Add to this, a few weeks ago, Jackson was sick — first time in his life, to any degree. Started hacking, thought it might be a hairball. Went to PetSmart and have avoided that building with every ounce of my being, driving miles out of the way to not have to walk in and see Banfield looking back at me.

Needed hairball medicine, which is basically salmon-flavored Vaseline, so I sucked it up for the sake of the Dude. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t brutal. I had Carlisle flashbacks and needed to get the hell out of there as fast as possible. I treated Jackson but the coughing continued.

Feline herpes, highly contagious, from contact with other cats. The first outbreak is usually the most severe. Once recovered, the immune system keeps it in check. Got him an antibiotic and antihistamine but three nights later, he isn’t sleeping or making any effort to. He’s exhausted, groggy, totally drained.

Dude came upstairs around 1 am and something isn’t right. It was clear he came to me for help. He wasn’t himself. Throat’s still bothering him, breathing heavy, coughing and sneezing.

I call the emergency hospital and came off like a total freak, telling the health history of all the cats and my concern about Jackson. I’m told he should be re-examined but that it can be done by our current vet in the morning. They open at 8 am. I relay my experience about Carlisle and fear that we may not have time, he stresses again that it was not an emergency.

I hang up and want to take a look at Jackson, so I lift him up and his energy is nonexistent, like lifting a 10-pound bag of potatoes. No fight, his back legs dragged behind him. He barely stood up straight, only after I helped. Not even trying to sleep, eyes wide open. Six feet away, I can hear him breathe.

Called the hospital again and confirmed I was overreacting. Told he’d need chest X-rays, blood work and maybe a steroid but it could all wait until morning. Said it’d be 3x less cost if we wait and based on everything I’d told him, it was not on an emergency level. I’ve become a hypochondriac, driven to second-guess and question everything. Not necessarily a bad thing, but …

Monitored Jackson all night and neither one of us got much sleep. Brought him in first thing and, yes, I apparently freaked out. I apologized to the doctor, it was a pure reaction to the experience with Carlisle and a refusal to let it happen again. A little over $200 later, the steroid shot helped and in a few days Jackson recovered. Me, not so much.

Keep your chin up. It is so moving, the great love you have for your cats. They are truly blessed to have you and Jules. I wish I could take it the pain and pray that whatever is going on with Bibby ends positively. If not, I hope you can find acceptance in this horrible, painful experience called life. It sucks, especially when the ones we truly love are gone or in the unknown.

I just read up on why cats end up in unfamiliar areas, the theory being she was chased by another animal and is now outside her zone. Unaware of the new surroundings, she can’t find her way back. If hiding, it can sometimes take cats up to 10 days to move from a safe spot. I’ve been focusing inside her usual boundaries and that’s the point, need to expand that and will do so first thing in the morning.

Also, we need to GO to the Humane Society and shelters — not just call. Too much confusion in relaying details and mistakes are common. Need to go every 48 hours because of 72-hour kill policies. Will do that in the morning. It’s not enough to put up signs. I’m comforted in the belief that she’s still alive, just lost.

Friday, May 25, 2012 …

Found Bibby!

Neighbor’s crawl space since Tuesday, nearly 72 hours. They had cut the lawn and that’s where they keep the mower, so the door was open. Bibs walked in, got locked inside and in retrospect, best place for her. No problem with the rain we had, no issue with the heat because it’s cool inside and no predators. More later, just wanted to break the news.

OMG, I am sooooo happy. So how far away was she?

Probably 150 yards, maybe six houses over. I’d been looking 3-4 houses from ours, had to expand the perimeter. From what the neighbors said, they see her every so often, it wasn’t the first time. I had no idea she went that far.

Another neighbor — I was lucky to catch them because they were headed out for the weekend — saw her around 5 pm Tuesday and it hit me that I was Kiefer Sutherland searching for Sandra Bullock and several days behind the trail to Jeff Bridges’ house. Pieced together what everyone told me and focused on those areas. Good thing, someone else said that on the other side of the woods, you’ll definitely find coyotes.

I was determined and confident I’d find her today and woke up with that firmly planted in my head. Gathered what I needed calmly because I was sure I’d locate her, wasn’t taking no for an answer. Went out of the development and found my way back by accident. I came out of the woods at one point, didn’t have a clue where I was but gradually figured out I was closer to home than I thought possible. Took the long way to get a few houses from ours, essentially. That told me that if I so easily lost my bearings, so could she.

Started hitting those houses, figured she was somewhere closer than I imagined. Knocked on a door and before the guy could come out, I heard her in the crawl space. He later said he thought he heard something the past few nights, it woke him up several times. He wasn’t sure what it was.

He unlatched the door and normally this would be a fear of mine — dark, unknown, cobwebs in my face and her voice the only thing guiding me to the far end of the crawl space. Only thought in my head, “no stopping now, this is the playoffs.” She’s all black, I’m a foot away from her at one point and I have no idea where she is. Following her voice, grabbing at air.

Interesting, one of the things the Humane Society asked was if I needed a trap. I figured that was crazy — it’s Bibby, I’ll pick her up and we’ll be on our way. Um … they were right. Feisty as hell and tried escaping me several times. You forget they’re animals and after that much time, they’re in a defensive state that’s unrecognizable. Took everything I had to hold her like a football, so she wouldn’t get away. She’s okay now, although she’s never going outside again.

I am sure she will be fine. Your persistence had its rewards. Perhaps you and God are on speaking terms again… 😉

Sorry, God didn’t just knock on door after door, search the woods, call Bibby’s name probably 1500 times in 3 hours and hand flyers to every neighbor possible. God didn’t look in the crawl space and He won’t. He’s busy. God doesn’t have a nasty bee sting on his left shin that I was able to put out of my mind until about a half hour ago and now it really hurts. Only thing God did was create the Guinness that I’m drinking in celebration right now and I thank Him from the bottom of my heart for that because it’s absolutely delicious. You have no idea.

She’s sacked out now. I checked on her and she shied away when I went to kiss her on the top of the head. Nope, sorry babe, I found you and I’ll kiss you if I want to. You’re mine now. It’s almost as if nothing ever happened. I let Jackson out and Bibs didn’t make much effort to do anything but hang inside. She’s content, so am I.

All I can think of is weeks, months or years from now, the bones of a cat are discovered in the corner of a crawl space and we never have resolution. No collar, no way to identify the body, just a bunch of bones someone would toss in the trash. We live the rest of our lives wondering what ever might have happened to her. In our minds, endless questions and misery.

None of the cats will ever go outside without a collar again. And Bibby owes us a Dave Matthews Band experience we can actually enjoy.

Bibby now has the second chance that Carlisle was denied, and I’m so grateful I was able to assist. She’s noticeably enjoying her next chapter. Carlisle deserved more, if karma is a gauge. All four kittens were stories in themselves, but his personality and soul were a gift and the emptiness of missing him still haunts us today.

ARCHIVES: Follow Lost kittens find their way home. Updates to follow.

Next episode: Vol. 5 — [coming soon]

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© 2012, Soapy Johnson. All rights reserved.

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