Category Archives: Cats

Lessons Learned

Our roles as “husband” and “wife” were pretty clear cut for the first 6 years of our marriage. Brian was the foundation, and I was the soft place to land. He was the rational one, I was the emotional one. He was the one who took care of me, I was the one who needed taken care of. We made a great team. I always knew that, when something bad happened, I could fall apart, knowing he would be there to deal with the details.

When we suddenly lost our 1 year old cat, Eddie, to unexpected heart disease, I thought my life could never get any blacker.
Sweet little Eddie with the nubby tail.
I laid on the couch, crying, for days. I’d never considered the possibility that something so devastating could happen to us. And Brian was there–to console me, to grieve with me, to pick up the broken pieces I left in my wake.
We got through it. I still have a raw spot in my heart that is Eddie, but I figured out how to live again, how to breathe and laugh and feel good again. Brian helped me with that, his role realized. We moved on with our lives, and everything was good. We were making plans for Brian to attend nursing school. We were enjoying our lives with our friends. We were trying to have a baby.
On October 9, 2010, my husband went to the doctor with what we thought was a urinary tract infection. He came home two hours later with cancer.
No one can prepare you for that kind of news. No one can prepare you for the way the blood rushes into your ears, so it’s the only thing you can hear. No one can adequately describe what it feels like when your life suddenly changes direction, like the earth just started spinning the other way on its axis.
That day, I met my husband at the door. The fear was plain on his face, and clutched in his hands was a sheaf of paperwork 2 inches thick. “How To Deal With The Diagnosis,” and “Dealing with Cancer,” and “What to Expect in the Early Stages of Cancer Treatment.” Lists of specialists, oncologists, surgeons, urologists, counselors.
The first two days after the diagnosis are a blur for me. I’m sure we talked about it. I know we made plans. I know we put on our brave faces when we went out into the world, and I know that we clung to each other like frightened children in the darkest parts of the night.
I also remember when the shift in our roles happened. For the first time, in a difficult situation, Brian needed someone to lean on. Someone to pick up the pieces. Somewhere soft to land.
When Brian couldn’t bring himself to do it, I picked up the phone and called all our family and friends to let them know that “Cancer” had been introduced into our lives. I answered their questions, called with updates, consoled those who needed consoling. I made arrangements for friends to stop by to keep Brian distracted while we waited those miserable 5 days for the biopsy results to come back. We went on car rides in a convertible with the sun beating down. We had potluck dinners with those we love most. We still managed to laugh and joke and stamp the worry down with the determination to win.
When Brian’s doctor confirmed that it was a malignant tumor, and said it was approximately the size of a softball, Brian’s demeanor changed. Surgery wasn’t a maybe, it was a must. This tumor, if it wasn’t removed quickly, could kill him. Words like “colostomy bags,” and “bowel resection,” and “possible removal of the bladder,” were used. Brian’s fear showed plainly on his face. He carried it around like a bulky backpack. He retreated within himself, living out his reality in his own mind, not wanting to burden me or anyone else with the fact that he was facing his own mortality at 30.
At that moment, hearing those words, I found resolve. I told myself I wouldn’t cry. I would be strong for him like he’d been strong for me so many times in the past. I would encourage him, buoy him up, remind him of all he had to live for. And for the next few weeks, he never saw me break. When the panic would rise up in me like so much bile, I would retreat to the shower, letting the hot water wash away my fear and grief and nausea, so that I could continue to help him through.
The day of Brian’s surgery, I felt like there was an ocean behind my eyes, waiting for the dam to break. My head felt heavy, and the desire to lay down and weep was overwhelming. But I sat with him while they explained the procedure. Held his hand as we gave them all the necessary information they needed. Kissed him goodbye when they took him back for prep. Rather than fall apart, the way my body, my psyche, desperately needed, I gathered my things, left my family in the waiting room, and went to meet with the financial counselor. An hour later, mountains of paperwork completed and signed, copies made, I dragged myself back to the waiting room.
When Brian’s surgeon came around the corner and asked to speak with us in a private room, I stopped breathing. They only do that on Grey’s Anatomy when it’s REALLY bad news. And so I walked with him, heart in my hands, and waited. It was gone. Every last bit of the alien that had taken over my husband’s body was gone. He would live a long, happy, normal life.
The dam broke. I wept for all we’d been through, for the pain I knew he’d be in when he woke up, for the anticipation of his reaction when I told him the good news, for the knowledge that he would be fine.
A fuzzy cell-phone pic of Brian about 2 hours after his surgery.
Throughout it all I learned some very valuable lessons about myself. I am stronger than I give myself credit for. My husband needs me as much as I need him. And nothing, not even cancer, can tear us apart.

FatKat Comics: Special Edition

A big thank you to the men who put their lives on the line for this mission. And another thank you to my hubby, who gave me the idea for this comic.


A Day In the Life of Me (Abby)

7:45 am: Alarm goes off. Bladder is uncomfortably full. Smack the snooze button, convince my bladder it can wait 30 more minutes, go back to sleep.

7:55 am: Alarm goes off again. Bladder now fit to bursting. Waddle to the bathroom, empty my bladder, return to bed.

7:56 am: Feel someone staring at me. Open my eye a crack and see this:

Dizzy thinks sleeping is a team sport.

7:56 and a half am: Realize, in this moment, that my plan to sleep till 8:30 is never going to happen. Sigh, scratch Dizzy’s head, get back out of bed.

8:00 am: Turn on shower, lean head against wall, and sleep standing up for five full minutes.

8:05 am – 8:45 am: Shower, dress, accessorize. Add some eyeliner and mascara and I’m ready for the day.

8:46 am: Look at the clock, realize the day has barely started and I already miss my husband.

8: 47 am: Pine for my husband.

8:59 am: Trudge to the office, sigh, open the door, change the sign from CLOSED to OPEN, turn on my phone, and prepare for the drudgery to begin.

9:00 am to 9:45 am: Process letters, return phone calls, answer emails, and other sundry boring office duties.

9:46 am: Throw a shoe at the cats, who have been meowing incessantly since 8:03 am for their breakfast. Finally break down and just feed them so they’ll shut up, even though I’m *supposed* to feed them at 10.

10:00 am to 11:00 am: Various household chores, which is boring, so I’ll make something up to entertain you: this is when I bathe and brush my unicorn. He thanks me with glitter and rainbows.

11:01 am: It’s AbbyGabs time! Yay!

11:02 am – whenever I’m done: Look for pictures, play around with Photoshop, Twitter-stalk Donnie Wahlberg, get distracted by Facebook and Youtube, finally come up with a blog topic and bang it out in thirty minutes or less.  Also, intermittently answer the phone, provide the same 4 answers to the same 4 questions I get asked everyday, process a few payments, and wish I had a PhD in something, or else a nice quiet farm where I could write without being disturbed.

Approximately 2:00 pm: Proudly publish my blog, and think “Wow, Brian is really gonna laugh at this one.” Look at the clock, realize it’s only 2:00, and that I still miss my husband.

2:01 pm: Pine for my husband.

2:02 pm – 4:36 pm: Find ways to make the day go by faster, while also continuing to answer the phone and answer the same 4 questions again and again. Watch TV, think about Donnie Wahlberg, check my Netflix account to see when my next Gilmore Girls DVD is going to be delivered, check my watch a thousand times, and finally settle down with a book.

4:37 pm: Phone rings and I know immediately it’s my afternoon “Boss Phonecall.” I answer HIS four questions that he asks me every day at 4:37 pm. Then I listen to him ramble about Chick-Fil-A coupons/the price of batteries at Walgreens/the method by which he changed his oil/something about his mother-in-law’s feet (I tuned this one out)/the auction he won on eBay, where he saved approximately 4 cents from retail price on shoe strings.

4:57 pm: Hang up the phone, pretend to shoot myself in the head with my hand, which isn’t a gun but we’re pretending. Look at the clock and dance a jig. It’s almost 5:00!!

4:58 pm: Dance another jig because it’s closer to 5:00!

4:59 pm: Hand is now poised on the door knob, ready to snatch the door open to flip the sign.

5:00 pm: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! Unicorn and I dance happily as we flip the sign, lock the door, turn off the phone, and close up for the day.

5:01 pm: Pine for my husband, again, who would be rejoicing right along with me and Unicorn.

5:02 pm – 5:30 pm: Quickly process end-of-day paperwork, feed the cats, change into my jammies and find my favorite spot on the couch.

5:31 pm – 7:30 pm: If Netflix is on my side, Gilmore Girls marathon. If not, reruns of Cops/make jewelry/crochet/read/enjoy the fact that I’m NOT working.

7:31 pm: Flip it over to Jeopardy, pine for my husband who loves Jeopardy. Then I remember I’m having tuna casserole for dinner, and I dance a little jig because I LOVE fish, and hubby HATES it.

8:00 pm – 10:30 pm: Dinner (Tuna Casserole, yay!), more Gilmore Girls (or other methods of time-wasting), 800 texts to my husband telling him how much I miss him.

10:31 pm: Power down household (ie: turn off all electronic devices, plug in cell phone and laptop, and head to bed.)

10:35 pm: Bedtime routine consists of brushing teeth, washing face, laying out clean jammies for the hubby (who will stumble home sometime after midnight, smelling like gin–because he’s a bartender, not an alcoholic–and money. Hopefully. If it was a good night.)

10:45 – 11:30 pm. Ish. : Read. Every night. Without fail. It’s why I have a hundred and seventeen thousand books.

11:31 pm: Set my alarm for 7:45 am, knowing I’ll hit the snooze button, turn out the light, and snuggle in for a good night’s sleep.

11:35 pm: Feel someone staring at me. I open my eye a crack and see this:

“Mom, is it bedtime?”

11:36 pm: Snuggle up with a purring kitty by my side and drift off into dreamland.

A Day in the Life of Dizzy:

7:55 am: Wake up. Realize I’m hungry. Find Mom.

7:56 am: Stare at Mom.

8:00 am – 9:45 am: Prowl kitchen, jump on Mom’s paperwork, scratch at carpet, and other various things that annoy Mom until she feeds us. Also, meowing a lot works, too.

9:46 am: Duck shoe.

9:47 – 10:00 am: Eat my well-deserved, much-worked-for breakfast.

10:01 am – 12:00 pm: Morning nap.

12:01 pm – 2:00 pm: Early afternoon nap.

2:01 pm – 4:00 pm: Mid-afternoon nap.

4:01 pm – 4:36 pm: Trip to litter box and water bowl. Chase Scooter out of the bathroom. Snuggle with Harry. Bathtime.

4:37 pm: Sit on desk and stare at Mom while she holds the phone to her ear and rolls her eyes a lot.

4:57 pm – 5:01 pm: Dodge Mom’s dancing feet. Start meowing for dinner.

5:26 pm – 5:49 pm:  Happily eat my dinner while Mom races around the house trying to finish all her stuff so she can relax.

6:00 pm – 7:59 pm: Early evening nap.


8:15  pm – 9:00 pm: Late evening nap.

9:01 pm – 10:35 pm: Pre-bedtime nap.

10:36 pm – 10:44 pm: Sit on bed and stare at door, waiting on Mom.

10:45 pm – 11:30 pm: Attempt everything possible to make Mom put down book and scratch my head, including pushing book with my head, nudging head underneath book to look adoringly at Mom, lying in front of book on Mom’s chest, and batting bookmark with paw.

11:35 pm:  Stare at Mom until she puts her arm around me and we fall asleep, snuggling.

Scoo-Tar the Magnificent: Finale

PS: If you’re blind, like me, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Did you miss Act 1 and Act 2? No sweat, that’s what the little linkies are for. Stay tuned for our next comic strip series, coming next Sunday!

A Continuation of Yesterday’s Comic

So yesterday, I mentioned that I had been invited to be a guest author over on The Katnip Lounge. 

You may not have noticed because it may have been, possibly, potentially, lost in the rant that was my post yesterday.

In case you missed it, make sure you venture on over and read my guest blog before you read today’s blog.

I’m sending a really big THANK YOU to Tricia, author of The Lounge, for offering to let me launch my official FatKat Comic Strip on her blog. As promised, here is part 2 of Scooter’s Magic Show. Enjoy.

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Sigh. I’m beginning to wonder what I won’t do for a laugh.

You laughed, right?

I hope so. Because it’s slightly disturbing to Photoshop my cat’s head from his body. Sorry, Pip.

As mentioned in the last panel, I will be starting a weekly FatKat Comic Strip, to be posted every Sunday. There was such a huge response to the Birthday Blog I did for Scooter, particularly from my followers from The FatKat Kronicles, I decided to bring the boys back.

Well, at least once a week.

It’ll be great! I swear!

Yesterday Was My Cat’s Birthday

In my house, we take birthdays very seriously. We have an annual contest to see who wins the “gold medal” for being the first to wish the birthday boy (or girl) a many happy returns. It’s competitive. Cutthroat, even. I’ve been known to write blogs and sing songs just to try and trump the person who inevitably beat me in the well-wishing.

I hate to lose.

So when one of our cats’ birthdays rolls around, they get the special treatment, too.

There is at least a week’s worth of planning that goes into each feline’s special day. Gift buying, meal planning. Then there’s the media assault plan that has to go into place. It’s like planning strategy for a war. Who’s gonna take stills, and who’s gonna take video? Placement of birthday tuna fish dinner in the right lighting, with no other kitty interruptions. To candle, or not to candle?

Yesterday, our fuzzy-and-adorable-and-orange-and-floofy Scooter turned three.

The candle may not have been the best idea we ever had, but the one-shot memory was worth a few singed whiskers and a freaked out birthday boy….right?

Scoot came into our lives after the devastating loss of our kitten, Eddie. It’s true what they say—that a new love can heal the loss of an old love. Scooter immediately captured our hearts, and was eventually the inspiration behind another blog I used to write, The FatKat Kronicles. And what they say about orange tabby cats is really true—they have SO MUCH PERSONALITY. Scooter constantly has us laughing and reaching for our cameras.

So much so, that’s he’s really got the whole “Stop-and-pose-cuz-Mom’s-got-the-flashy-box-again” thing down pat.

“Cuz I’m the MOST adorable mancat, ever.”

We also have the annual “Get-Squished-By-Mommy-In-A-Commemorative-Birthday-Portrait” pictures:

Scooter, Age 3, looking mighty perturbed.

And the “Just-Keep-Eating-Even-Though-Mom-Has-The-Camera-Shoved-In-My-Face-Because-She-Likes-The-Slurpy-Noise-I-Make” birthday video:

You know, just your Basic Birthday Barrage.

Ooh…that would be the perfect name for a party planning company….maybe I should go into business.

Also, if I ever get around to having children, someone should warn them. ASAP. Because if I’m this fanatical about my pets’ birthdays, my children are going to be traumatized by my OCD, everything needs to be perfect, “DID YOU GET THAT SHOT????,” celebration compulsions.

Is there a 12-step program for that?