365 Days

365 Days.

It’s been 365 days since I lost him.

It’s been 365 days since I lost my best friend.

It’s been 365 days since I had to make the hardest decision in my life: the decision to put him to sleep.

It’s been 365 days since I put to sleep the cat who laid with me every night since the day I adopted him.

It’s been 365 days, yet I still cried when I found his old collar and tag in the drawer of my desk last week.

When I adopted Percy, then Cheech (his brother was Chong), I was questioned on whether or not I would still want to adopt him because he had a heart condition. He had a grade 5/6 heart murmur. I was told he could live a full life, or he could last a year. Considering the fact that I too had cardiac issues, I was a little offended at the notion that someone wouldn’t want him solely because of his heart issue. Of course, I took him home, and he was the most loving, social, and intuitive cat.

Over the years, he laid with me during some of the roughest times I’ve faced – physically and mentally. He was my baby. He was my rock. It’s been 365 days.

On December 13th, I took Percy to the vet. It was his first time going to the vet since we relocated to New York. I noticed he had some increased effort when breathing and seemed to be breathing faster than normal. The vet was amazing. She was incredibly caring, responsive, and gave me the most information she could. They did a chest x-ray. She brought me in and showed it to me – it showed his entire abdomen had built up fluid. She let me know he would need a chest tap and to spend the day with them. I left him there and she called me back shortly after I left to let me know I needed to pick him up and immediately take him to the animal hospital. She did the chest tap, but it wasn’t the fluid she was expecting – the fluid was filled with blood. She did another tap, still… all blood. We took him to the animal hospital in Manhattan. We could have kept him alive, but the fluid could build up within a matter of hours, or a matter of months or years, and there was no way to tell which it would be, and medication wouldn’t necessarily help him. I could have taken him home, but come home from work the next day to him passed away. It didn’t seem like it would be fair to do that – to prolong his life for my own benefit, to hang onto him for one day… while he suffered.

On December 30th, we went to the shelter and rescued Lincoln. He’s brought a brightness into our home when it felt so empty after our loss.

It’s been 365 days, but I had a remarkable 2118 days on this earth with him, and each of those days makes up for each day without him. I went into his adoption ready to rescue a cat who may or may not make it through a few months, and I got 2118 days with him. For that, I am thankful.

These last 365 days have been filled with so much. So many laughs, so many tears. In these last 365 days, we’ve gained some, and lost way too much. We lost Percy. We rescued Lincoln. We lost Caleb. We decided to make the leap and move to DC in January 2019. I will face the next 365 days with my head up, my heart full, and ready to face the adventure each of those days brings. Thank you, Percy, for showing so much affection to everyone you encountered. Thank you, Caleb, for showing us all the best way to live and reminding us every day how important it is to live with light, love, happiness, passion, perseverance, strength, and hope.

365 days. 

Differences

Looking back on old pictures from when I was a kid, I see that my love for wearing big shirts and no pants has been lifelong. Most of the pictures I come across are from the beach, skiing, or sporting events. When I think about my childhood, it feels like I lived in a completely different world from the kids growing up now. Don’t get me wrong, we totally played video games and had some “screen time” too, but it wasn’t the same. We played outside in the neighborhood. We didn’t sit at the dinner table watching/playing with a tablet. We went to school, came home, did our homework, and played outside with friends. I grew up going to Marlins games and Dolphins games. I grew up collecting pins to wear proudly on my Marlins cap to every game. I grew up valuing the outdoors. Kids these days don’t seem to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors or the beauty of actually interacting with others.

It is too often that I go out to eat and see a family sitting at a table with their kids sitting there staring at a iPad or iPhone screen with headphones in. We wonder where the social issues come from? Right there. I was expected to talk about my day and participate in conversations with my family. What good are we doing our children if we don’t interact with them? I understand that sometimes you just need a break from your children, but if that’s the case – hire a babysitter to take the kids off your hands when you go out to dinner. And don’t hire a babysitter who is going to sit there and watch TV with your kids all evening. Hire a babysitter who will read with them, read to them, play with them, and engage them.

Before I started working at the hospital in October, I was filling my days with babysitting and nanny jobs. I understand that it is hard to keep a kid engaged for hours on end – I’ve had to do it, a lot. I have been around my best friend and her kids since birth. Prior to moving to NYC, I was around those two kiddos 3-7 days a week for years on end. I’m not completely against letting kids play some games on a tablet or watch some TV. I’m just saying that the ratio of screen time to other activities needs to change! We need to engage our children before they complacently sit by and allow the world pass them by.

Nothing Worse

There’s nothing worse than hearing your parents cry and not being able to do anything about it. Moving out of the house at 17 to go off to college and not ever moving back to the same city has it’s tough moments. The main one being the anxiety you get over not being able to be there when things happen. Over the years, I’ve had to face these moments and no matter how many times it happens, I struggle. I struggled when my mom called me to tell me that my dad’s best friend passed unexpectedly. I struggle every time my mom calls/texts me about my dad’s health. I frequently struggle with thoughts about what I would do if something happened to one of my loved ones and I couldn’t make it in time from NY to Florida to say goodbye.

I always have my phone on vibrate and I pretty much always hear it. This Sunday morning, my phone was lost in the mountain of king-sized blanket piled up with me on the couch. When I came across my phone next, I had a missed call, voicemail, and text message from my dad. The text message read: “Give me a call please.” No context clues. As my parents get older, the more edgy I get when things like this happen. A knot rose up and settled in my throat as I quickly called my dad back. He picked up – his voice was shaky. “Jaime died.” At first, I thought he was referring to his friend Jaime, until he kept talking and then I realized it was my second cousin, who was only 9 days younger than my brother, that he was referring to. My dad pushed through the beginning of the call while he told me about Jaime, intermittently crying.

Jaime was healthy. He came home from work, went out for a run, came back and hung out with his parents in the kitchen. His dad told my dad that Jaime was talking about how happy he was and how he felt he was in such a good place in his life. Jaime then went to the other room and sat at the computer to play some games. A few hours later his mom went in and found him slumped over the computer dead. 32 years old. When we were kids, he and my brother were best friends. Thick as thieves. Partners in crime. (featured photo: my brother [left] and Jaime [right] laughing away)

Did you know it takes 6-8 on average to get the results of an autopsy back? 6-8 weeks of waiting. 6-8 weeks of agony. 6-8 weeks of the unknown. 6-8 weeks.

Goodbye Jaime. I’m glad that you felt you were in a good place when you passed. I’m glad you were happy.  You are so loved.