Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In The Beginning - Flashbacks

I think it was 2004 when I began to realize something was up. My cat died. She was my life – my little Penny. Only eleven years old. It was hard, really hard. She had been my constant since the age of fifteen or so, since I returned from camp broken. Major hives had sent me to the Emergency Room three times while up there, finally they said I couldn’t go back. They were internal, I couldn’t breathe. And I returned to what was supposed to be my mom’s cat, who became the only member of the family I could trust.

Penny’s story, like all of the ones I have, is a long one. We battled cancer for two years and I watched helpless as tumour after tumour erupted across her skin. Her fur was falling out in little clumps across my apartment, often with decayed flesh still attached.

I expected grief when she passed. I expected sadness. I didn’t expect flashbacks. Especially not ones so vivid that in my sleep I was throwing myself into the wall, scratching at my skin, waking up with bruises and bloody arms and legs. The worst one I threw myself out of bed – hard – and landed on my stomach, face, and hands. It felt like I broke my nose.

First I went to a grief counselor that specialized in the human/animal bond. She was provided free by the veterinary office I had taken Penny too. It was supposed to be ‘group’ but I was the only one there. We talked about how Penny opened the world to me – she visited neighbors, I walked her on a lease, everyone responded positively to her. We also talked a bit about my homelife and that was when she suggested I go see a therapist to deal with that. She also told me to expect a lot of stuff to come back up as Penny was the gatekeeper – the last vestige of that life- and kept the demons at bay. With her gone, everything rushed through.

The one I remember the most, that wasn’t just the huge black shadow deeper than night with storm-cloud eyes, was a dream I had when I was maybe a freshman in highschool. I remember because it was one I tried to tell my mom in an effort to understand.

In the dream I am in the attic and my mother is coming after me. She’s just pale waxy skin and those grey-blue eyes of hers that when I was young envied as more beautiful than my hazel, and as I aged feared as they were just thunderclouds. She keeps coming after me and I’m screaming and screaming and the only thing I have on me is this whistle she had given my brother and I. It was a loud one on a mustard yellow lanyard and we were to blow it if we were ever being attacked – but they were taken away since the only place we used them was inside with her. So the whistle is in my hand as she’s coming after me so I just keep swinging it at her and finally it hits her in the forehead with an awful squishy thud and imbeds in there. I remember her falling, then the look as she is on the wooden floor, hands curled into the wood, her face turned up at me smiling with the whistle in her head and the skin buckled around it.

“But I wanted you dead!” I tried to explain the next day. “I was trying to kill you, but you wouldn’t die. I just remember wanting you dead so much!” I cried trying to understand how I could wish any mother dead. Mother’s are the givers of life, right?

“Are you having troubles at school?” she asked me. “Is someone picking on you?”

I looked up at her in complete disbelief. “The dream wasn’t about anyone at school,” I told her, “it was about you. Me trying to kill you.” I left out the beginning part – that it was self-defense, that she was trying to kill me and I was fighting to live. What bothered me more was that image of the whistle in her forehead, her irises staring up at me from the floor.

“Oh honey, it’s that girl Neetu isn’t it. Is she picking on you?”

For some reason, as all the flashbacks swarmed around and overpowered my senses, that was the image that remained, the one of her attacking me and that damned whistle. The conversation when I tried to tell her what happened and it was blown off – as so much was. At least, that’s the one I remember the most.

I also started breaking out again after Penny died. One cry would turn into splotches then a rash then hives and then the occasional visit to the doctor. I wasn’t getting sleep, I was jumpy, depressed – really depressed – and just walking in a daze. I ended up losing a good thirty pounds in those months (maybe year?) afterwards before I got a better handle on things.


Amel's Realm said...

WOW! It must've be hard...being flooded like that after your gatekeeper was gone. You must've been so confused.

My cat's fur was also falling out as he got sick and I felt SO sad and agonized by looking at his thin frame. >______________________<

That was one scary dream indeed. Twice in my life I wished someone dead (different people) but I never had any dreams about it. But it did bother me, too, that I had such a wish.

I'm glad you're now able to enjoy many more things, Vic. Good thing you seeked for help when you needed the most. :-)))

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

That must have felt terrifying, both losing your rock (cat), and that dream, especially as it was so vivid it has stayed with you for all this time.

Losing her forced you in to a deep depression, but that led you to seek out some answers, and that in turn, led you to seek out some help with coming to terms with those answers. Seems to me like that little moggy is helping you as much today as she ever did when she was actually here..

Victorya said...

Ah shrink, she's my angel that cat is. Better than an angel, just another part of God - forget the trinity, it was a quartet. And she didn't play second fiddle.

Amel - asking for help was hard, being so friggin independent- to acknowledge I needed someone? Not easy. And I'm sorry to hear about your cat, it isn't easy at all.

heavenabove said...

I'm sure this will be no surprise to you, but I also had a cat that was my angel, not my dearly departed Tidy but another cat "Little Cat". I understand your strong bond with your friend and it does feel like the world is crashing down when they must move on in spirit and you are left alone in turmoil. Took me a couple years to get over my cat's death. I still had Tidy and Kitty but Little Cat was like my twin soul in a cat's body, not "just a pet" or "part of the family".

Once I moved 100 miles away and my cat had to stay with my parents until I could come get her. I talked to the cat and we were both crying (and for the non-believers I do have real human witnesses to that). A while passed. I had a dream that the cat was all leathery and as I reached out to hold her paw, the paw would pull off and another paw would replace it. This continued until I became very frightened and finally woke up. My mom called later that day and told me that Little Cat had been caught in a trap set by a cat-hating neighbor. Her back leg had to be sewed back on but she came out OK. Only white fur grew back where the leg was cut, where before it was black. In all, 6 months went by before I could get the cat.

Your cat is still with you in spirit.

Too bad the cat never bit your mother!

Victorya said...

Heaven- my bond with Penny was like that. Really strong, I always said she was my familiar.

And she's a hard one to write about, but what she used to do is get between my mom and I when my mom was yelling, and start growling and hissing at my mother. Also, when ever R. called she'd walk over, listen in for a minute, then step on the receiver and hang up. I should have listened to her on that one.

She was one amazing animal, sounds like your baby. I do think they are just shards of God's spirit to help us.

Amel's Realm said...

AMAZING cat stories!!! LOVED them!!! I've never believed dog lovers when they claim that dogs are smarter. Some cats are smarter than dogs he he he...

Ah, so it was hard to ask for help, eh? Glad you did it anyway.