Sunday, September 8, 2019

Where Baby~Angels Go

Jezabelle October 2001 to September 2019 Aged 17 years, 10 months 

I've been waiting and wondering if I would receive a sign that Jezabelle has made it safely to... wherever our Baby~Angels go. This morning, I awoke from a dream. At first it wasn't a good one. As dreams go, it doesn't make sense because I don't know where we were, but in the dream it all made perfect sense.

I was in some place, and a glass full of melted ice fell over, and Jezabelle, younger and strong, started to drink the water as it ran along the floor. I realized that she was thirsty because we had taken up her food and water dish. Then I realized that since we had removed all of her things, she didn't have a place to potty. I was frantic and felt guilty that we had just removed all of her things so she couldn't come back.

Then a young black boy, maybe 13 or 14, beckoned me and I picked Jezabelle up and followed him. We went along a shore and up into a beautiful, hilly meadow. The sun was coming up and the air was still and fresh with the scent of flowers. Jetsam was lying there in the fragrant, green grass, and I let Jezabelle down to go and take her place next to Jetsam.

There was an empty bird's nest in a bush and I asked the young boy where the birds were. He touches the grass, and a baby bird came out of a hole and hopped past Jetsam and over to Jezabelle. She stretched out her face and touched the bird with her nose.

The little birdie was happy to see her and she was gentle with the bird. As she sniffed the little bird, I tried to take a picture with an old camera but it wouldn't work. I reached back to get my cell phone from the boy so that I could use the camera, I turned back to the cats and squatted down to take the photo.

The sunlight was bright behind the cats and everything was so peaceful and beautiful. The little bird hopped to Jezabelle's side and began trying to get beneath her like it thought she was its momma, and Jezabelle just gently nuzzled the little bird as it burrowed beneath her. 

I tried to take the photo and just watched in awe at the peaceful scene, then I woke up. In the dream, both of my cats were calm, fat and healthy. They were both very secure and seemed to know something I did not. I'm trying to see this as a sign that they're together where they are supposed to be... but I miss them both so badly.

That was a dream I had five days after Jezabelle crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.

Jezabelle came to us during the Christmas holidays, 2001.  She was born beneath a house in Robstown, TX, in October of that year. We already had Jetsam, but Brittney wanted a cat of her own, and I had promised her that when we moved into the house, she could get a cat.  When she appeared with this little devil, we pretty much had to give forgiveness, since permission had not been asked!

She was supposed to be Brittney's cat, but I named her.  Brittney used to fight with her constantly... and she was sometimes a mean little cuss.  But I always expected gentleness from her, and that's what she gave me... well, most of the time. 

When Brittney moved in with Melissa in San Antonio, she took Jezzer with her.  But when the girls adopted Leila, (Brittney's Pomeranian puppy), Bella and Milano... and then Pumpkin darted in through  the open door one day... that was too many cats!  Jezabelle retreated to the top of the refrigerator to live, coming down only to use the litter box!  Brittney called to ask me if I would take Jezabelle back, and of course, I agreed!  From that day on, she became MY cat. 

Years came and went.  Jezabelle was silent.  She sat back and let Jetsam blaze the way through life and simply reaped the benefits.  She was mean to Jetsam though.  She often swiped at her, tackled her for no reason and bit her just for passing too close.  She commonly knocked Jetsam off the bed, or couch, or just refused to let her onto the furniture to lay down!  Yes, she was a meanie!

But with me, she was sweet.  She sat on my lap every time I sat down.  She pumped me with "biscuits" and was my fur~baby angel.  She got sick once.  We thought we would lose her.  I think she either drank toilet water that had cleaning liquid in it, or she was fed one of the recalled cat food packets.  We'll never know, but for 5 days and more than $500 in vet bills, she clung to life, sitting on my lap, being fed babyhood meats that I had to wipe on her paw to get her to swallow.  But she pulled through and life went on.

When we began planning our cruising life, we always assumed that both cats would be long dead before we took off on the boat.  Who knew that cats could live longer than 10 years!!! But they did, and we eventually took both cats with us when we left on the boat in 2013. 

Enjoying some time off the boat in Beaufort, SC
Marina life was always good, except we had to watch that she didn't escape!
Once she was lost overnight and we found her on another boat in the marina.  That was the end of freedom!
She's noticed the other cat on the boat next door.  Tense times!
The cats seemed to love living on the boat.  Their personalities changed and they opened up and became more friendly and secure. We were with them as a tiny little family, together 24/7 most days. The loved being able to go outdoors.  The boat provided them with a safe little world and they lounged in the sun and fresh air, happy and secure.

Of course they didn't really enjoy the times we would move the boat, but they both adapted and found their place.  At first, they remained down below when we sailed... but soon they got used to it and joined us in the cockpit.  Jezabelle even learned to "tack".  She would recognize the signs of preparation, wake up, jump down from her settee and move to the other side as the boat came around.  Then she settled back to her nap! Pretty slick!

This was one of Jezzer's earlier sailing positions.  No idea why she thought that was a safe place!
This one makes more sense!  She loved to burrow!
She became more secure, but always checked conditions thoroughly before coming out!
She spent a lot of time beneath the kayak while under way in the ICW

Always eager to help at the helm
She was a good companion for my "off-watch" hours!

In 2015, we left Jetsam with my mother back in our house in Texas.  She was getting old and finding cruising life increasingly difficult.  Some time between August, 2015, and April 2016, she escaped and most likely went off to die.  Bruce and I both feel so badly that we let her down in her final days, but she was an old lady and honestly, it was better for us that we didn't have to see her decline.  What a copout!  I know.  But we thought we were doing what was best for her at the time.  We missed her terribly...

After she left us, Jezabelle changed again.  She began to be more vocal.  She now had to ask for things herself instead of just getting whatever Jetsam got for the two of them.  She grew to be even more snuggly now that she was an "only child".  She was soft and fat and the joy of our lives.  Every cruising decision we made was catered toward her comfort.  In over six years, we never left her alone overnight. We waited for calm days to move the boat so that she wouldn't get seasick.  She had us wrapped around her little paw, and she was wrapped around our hearts, impossible to separate.  We couldn't imagine our lives without her, even if she was sometimes a little irritating. 

She loved helping with boat projects.  Here she is inspecting the window replacement job!
My second mate at the helm!
She helped with every project.
She was a great planner!

Sometimes she was MORE than in the way!

The BEST of times...
She even tried sunbathing, just to be near me!

She greeted us loudly when we came home.
She was always there for sundowners!
She marvelled at the beautiful water!
She knew all the comfy spots
Many times I wondered what she thought about our ever-changing scene...
She was totally puzzled by our swimming off the transom.

Sometimes she considered coming with us for a dinghy ride...
Until she got to... 
Not as much fun as it looked!

This was one of her favorites whether under way or at anchor!

She loved to wait for us to pass beneath the hatch, then she would swat us on the head!
Their favorite game!
We cruised for almost six years.  During those years, Jezbelle began to show signs of her age, and I began to worry. She lost weight and became increasingly picky.  She began to vocalise more, but she would sometimes yowl with a start, like something hurt her! She got grumpy. I worried that we wouldn't be able to find care if she got sick.  I worried that she would die and I would have to bury her at sea, or on some lonely beach where we would sail away and she would be alone.  Things got a little better when we moved into our condo here in Puerto Rico.  

Her ID photo for the HOA just after we moved in.
Hardly any furniture, but she enjoyed watching TV on the cool tiles.
For a while she seemed to rally and gain a little weight and there was more pep in her step.  She loved to go outside and walk up and down the sidewalk.  She sniffed the flowers and flopped down in the sunshine to doze.  She even began to go to the door and ask to go outside.  She managed the stairs nicely and grew very comfortable in her new palace!  But there were dark days as well... 

Her last neighbourhood walkabout.  She got irritated when I made her come home, but she went!
Her sudden cries came more often and sounded more "pained".  She would be sleeping peacefully, then suddenly start awake with a yowl, jump up and run to the food bowl.  Sometimes she would lie, panting with a fixed look in her eye.  Then I would rub her tummy, something that was never allowed in the early days.  It would seem rigid, then she would seem to relax, like I was making it feel better.  She became more and more picky with her food and water.  She lost weight again.  She became SUPER needy, crying if she couldn't see us, plopping into my lap and refusing to get up.  She burrowed beneath my covers and followed me everywhere.  I worried even harder.

I began to think that it was time to take her in to have her checked out again. We had a vet look her over in Grenada before we left for Puerto Rico.  All of these worries were shared with him, but he said she seemed physically fine.  But my worries increased.  I began to watch her closely to see if I could determine any minute change in her behaviour.  It was a stressful time, and I knew that as she approached age 18, it would be only a matter of days or weeks before we were saying goodbye to her.  I let her get away with murder.  I spoiled her rotten and made the best of every moment with her.  But my heart was heavy...

In the days and hours leading up to her passing, I vacillated between making the decision to schedule her with a vet, and just waiting to see how it went.  I knew that if we took her in, she wouldn't be coming home, and I wanted to put it off.  For me.  

Labor Day was rough.  If possible, she seemed even more clingy. But she would sit on my lap, and if I had to move her off, she would yowl like it hurt her when I moved her.  Twice she even bit me as I gently transferred her onto the bed from my lap.  She almost NEVER bit ME!  I knew she was hurting.  I was hurting too!

On the morning after Labor Day, Bruce and I were making plans to go walking, when suddenly I decided that she needed to be seen by the vet.  She was just not getting better, and her biting me was just the final sign that I had waited for.  I told Bruce to get ready and from that moment, things became a blur. Bruce and I both cried all the way to the vet, 45 minutes away.  

I cried when I told them what was happening with her, and they took her in to be put on oxygen.  The vet came and words were said, and he waited for our decision. I knew that one of us would finally have to utter the words that would ultimately suck all of the joy from our lives and leave us with a huge, gaping hole in our hearts. 

The pain of a thousand knives...
The apology
The moment of doubt...

Instructions for what to do when you get to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge
Promises made and forgiveness asked.
The days between that moment and the morning I woke up from that dream were a blur of tears and an ache so profound, I thought I would not make it.  But somewhere in my mind was a voice that kept telling me "You did the right thing.  She was old and hurting and she wasn't going to get better... only worse."  Somehow I convinced myself of that with constant reminders.  But it was tough.  It will always be tough.  But I hope that the fond memories will eventually tip the scales and the tears will come less readily.

That dream told me that she is OK.  The feeling of peace and security will keep me going until I meet my fur babies once again, and they will show me the way to Where-Baby-Angels-Go.

My Baby~Angel's last kiss
We had her cremated, so she will remain close to me.  We lost Jetsam, but couldn't lose Jezabelle too.

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