Haibun: That which saves us

For Sherry’s prompt at Real Toads – what we save saves us. This is not my usual brief haibun. It is long. But Pugsley deserves a long haibun. Sherry assured me I had her permission to post this as she is not strict about prompts. No social justice here, just saving a starving car. I saved him and he saved me.

Haibun: That which saves us

Twenty years ago, I was living in the Fan in a small two room apartment. It was a hard winter and snow was on the ground. I stepped out my door to fill the birdfeeders when I noticed a skeletal ginger cat gobbling up popcorn that had been thrown out for the birds. It looked at me. I called softly, Kitty? It made a step towards me. I ran in the house and quickly opened a can of tuna which I put out. I backed away and the cat began to eat as if starved. The cat was there the next day and I put out some leftover chicken. This time I walked towards the cat and it hunkered down. I rubbed its head and it stretched beneath my hand, grateful for the attention. I picked it up and it snuggled in my arms purring. I told the cat, not on my watch are you going to starve. It took it in the house and noticed it had on a rhinestone collar which had grown into its skin. You are somebody’s pet, I told him. I had determined the cat had been spayed. I put up notices around the neighborhood and three streets over, an old lady answered the ad and told me it had been her neighbor’s cat that had been tossed out when her neighbor died. I kept the cat. I renamed him Pugsley. He was quiet, well behaved and affectionate. My fiance’ was not happy but knew I was determined. When we married and moved into our home, Pugsley went with us.

A few years later, my PAP smear came back negative. I had cancer. I felt like I had been gut punched. I cried for several days and Pugsley never left my side. He walked around after me in the house and got in my lap when I sat down. A biopsy was done and the results were malignant. I started a round of chemo and finally surgery. When I went for the chemo, Pugsley rode with me and sat with me whenever it was possible. Often I was sick and exhausted. I did not complain or tell people what was going on with me.  But I told Pugsley and he reminded me that he loved me and listened.  He’d lick my face when I cried. I came home after the surgery during which I almost died due to reaction to the sedatives and painkillers. When I finally went home, my husband told me Pugsley had not eaten and meowed constantly. The first thing when I lay down, he jumped on the bed and lay by my side, purring softly. During the weeks of recovery he made me laugh and snuggled. I talked to him and he laughed at my lame jokes and loved me. My husband had the perfect baby sitter in Puglsey.

About five years ago, Pugsley stopped eating and didn’t want to be held. I took him to the vet who determined he had a huge tumor growing in his stomach. My heart broke. I talked to the doctor and then talked to Pugsley. He lay in my arms while the vet put him down. This cat who had been so loving and faithful, I could not save this last time. I had him cremated and when I inserted my mother’s ashes in her mother’s grave, I inserted Pugsley as well. He was the best boi in the world. I cry still at his loss. I take him flowers when I take flowers to my mother.
snow falls quietly –
a starving cat won my heart –
flowers bloom on his grave

Pugsley under the crepe myrtle

Surprising Survivors II – ME!!! – from Hurricane Cancer

Five years ago, I was in hospital 11/16, recovering from cancer surgery (Please see my post about The 11/16 Society).   It has been five years since that time. 

I count my recovery and survival to various things:  the first is the grace and kindness of my God and His healing power.  After that, I thank my Physician Assistant, my MD (he’s the oncologist the doctors around here send their wives to), the amazing nurses in the hospital unit, and the love and support of my family, friends, and the 11/16 Society. 

I know there are those of you who refuse to see a PA – my insurance pays for a real doctor so I want a real doctor!   My real doctor was too busy to give me my annual pelvic exam so her PA stepped in.  Because he is a diligent person who truly cares, he was hyper-vigilant with the PAP smears – one for normal, one higher up, and yet another higher up. 

 Because of this, ovarian cancer which would have been discovered until the deadly stage was discovered at Ground Zero.  He sent me to the #1 oncologist for such cancers.  My oncologist operated and was able to remove all parts (I think the term I used several times while still groggy was “gutted like a fish”).  He said no other parts were affected but he removed to be safe.  The tiny beginning was removed along with the yet unaffected sections.  He also did laser surgery and used that wonderful glue instead of stitches and staples – no infection, clean healing. 

I kept up my regular visits as ordered from both him and my PA.  I hope in future you will remember this when given a PA instead of a real doctor.  A dear friend of mine and newest member of the 11/16 Society, is in the process of being a PA.  He will be perfect – intelligent, diligent, kind, compassionate.  I can see his sweet face now as he tends to his patients. 

The week before I received my diagnosis, I had to teach a lesson to my Sunday School class about acceptance – of God doing things in His own way and His own time – bringing us out/through the exile of divorce, disease, depression, unemployment, grief, homelessness (Jeremiah 29:4-14).  If we seek Him, He will find us and when the time is right, He will bring us home (my version of this long scripture).  It also assures us God is aware of us and His plans for us – His plans, not ours.  When I received the diagnosis, I at first felt I had been sucker punched.  But then, I began to again go to the truth of this book and verses.  I became calm.  My husband and mother were basket cases. 

When the surgery was over, I was told I was fine and would be fine.  I smiled because I already knew – knew however it ended, I would be fine. 

My friends showered me with cards, flowers, balloons….the members of the 11/16 Society who were still alive or in the US, camped out when allowed and smiled and smiled – their gift to me was a small satin pillow to use when I needed to cough.  Just what I would have given one of them in similar circumstance.  On my birthday, they kindly ate strawberry shortcake for me and told me how good it was.  Everything tasted like pond scum to me for about a month afterwards. 

This year, I am going to eat my own strawberry shortcake and then send them an email to let them know how good it is and to thank them.  On 11/16, I am going out to dinner with my husband.  I am going to let my friends know and those I didn’t know thank you for your prayers and smiles and good wishes.

Those of you, who like me are survivors – remember how special we are and how we can help others get through their exiles.  Those of you who are just beginning – you have my prayers and smiles and are being carried in heart.  

We are the wildflowers blooming during after a storm in an unlikely season.  We survive storms, frost, wind, sadness.  We are amazing grace, walking.

 

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