go home, loser  
The Artcar: 2001/08/11
[ previous entry ] [ return to the timeline ] [ next entry ]
Some things are more important than art, Burning Man, or just about anything else.

Today was the day I asked my vet to come to my house and give the bestest cat in the whole world the shot that would put her misery to an end.

This is how most people saw Emma -- hanging out on my bed, looking like she'd just woken up from a long nap:

emma posing

Some time in late 2000, Emma started sneezing. I was sneezing a lot too -- my house was dusty as hell, I was rearranging and sorting thru my stuff trying to get ready to move.

Then one day she started sneezing so hard there were little drops of blood near her right tear duct. There's no way this can be good, I figured, so I took her to the vet immediately.

What the vet pointed out, and what I'd managed to miss, was that there was a lump developing on Emma's forehead. Two weeks of tests and biopsies later, the vets were certain it was an aggressive, primitive, fast-growing cancer. The only option I had available was radiation therapy at a clinic 50 miles away. 14 treatments spread out over a month.

emma stalking This is what you might have seen if you slept over at my house -- Emma slowly stalking towards you so she could aggressively purr and meow and rub up against you until you woke up.
Pet care is not cheap: a cat scan (no pun intended) to precisely locate the tumor and 14 doses of radiation set me back almost $5,000. The cost of boarding her a few nights a week was noise in the signal compared to the cost of having someone point a lump of Cobalt-60 at just the right spot on her forehead three times a week.

"The good thing about cats," the radiologist told me, "is that they can survive huge amounts of radiation."

"If Emma was human, they'd have told her to finalize her will and be ready to die soon. But because cats tolerate radiation, we can give her huge doses and she'll survive."

The amount of radiation they gave Emma apparently would melt the skin off other mammals. All that would happen to Emma is that her fur would fall out and grow in pure white, her whiskers would fall out but grow back, and she might lose sight in one eye. She might live 6 months, she might live two years. There just wasn't any telling.

In the end, radiation therapy gave Emma about eight months. Only seven months, if you count a life not in pain and suffering.

This last month, I held out hope for some sort of miracle reversal of fortune. But the lump had grown back on her nose; the eye that used to simply reflect a different color at night than the good eye reflected had now swollen shut; and she'd gone from occasionally sneezing out clear fluid to regularly sneezing out blood. She slept all day long, only coming out for food around dinner time and for the occasional petting when company arrived.

A few days ago it became clear to me that I was keeping her alive for my sake because I couldn't deal with the thought of losing her -- and that was just plain wrong.

Today, one of the best vets I've ever had (Dr. Derenzi, from Adobe Animal Hospital) helped me do what had to be done. She came over to my house and sat with me, my girlfriend Drue, my friend Wendy, and Raven, the woman who helped me raise Emma for several years.

I held Emma the best I could while Dr. Derenzi and her assistant (name forgotten, I apologize) shaved a little patch near a vein so Dr. Derenzi could give Emma the shot that would end her pain.

I don't know if you've ever actually held someone you cared about while they died. When my father died, nobody told me about it for a couple of years. Other people and animals I cared about died while I wasn't around, or died so quickly that I never saw them in pain. They simply went from being alive to being dead, and I was nowhere near it. I've never been around someone or something I cared about while they were actually dying.

I held Emma while they gave her the shot and soothed her the best I could. I petted her while she slowly drifted off to sleep. I petted her while she died. I held her until her body turned cold -- I just didn't want to let go.

Now I have to let go. I don't want to, but I have to.

So yeah, no progress on the car this weekend, but fuck it.

Art, Burning Man, your job, all that other stuff -- it can wait.

Love those close to you while you can.


Art    Objects    Shelter    Vehicles

Projects    /Store    /Resources    wtf?

All original text and images Copyright 2000-2002 J. Eric Townsend.