I’m driving my 19-year-old cat to the vet yesterday. As inevitably happens as we enter Hoboken, a Sinatra song (this time it's Winners) comes on my iPod. It's eerie how that always happens when I enter this city.
As we drive across 9th Street towards the Animal Infirmary I say, “Remember when we lived here, Sylvia? You and Mickey were one-year-old.”
She’s lying in the carrying case, her head resting on my hand.
“It was quite a time, wasn’t it?”
It was exactly one year ago this month that her brother Mickey was diagnosed with cancer. I remember thinking, ‘well, a lot of people have cancer for several years and get along OK. Sometimes it even goes into remission’.. In less than two months he was gone.
We get to the vet and I keep talking to her as we walk in. “It’s going be OK. We’ll be home in a little while. I just want to get you checked out.”
She currently receives tapazole every day for hyperthyroidism. She’s also hooked up to an IV once a day to receive 100 cc’s of lactated ringer's solution, also known as subcutaneous fluids.
“What is wrong with Sylvia?,” the receptionist asks.
“She is constantly going to the litter box, but she’s barely urinating. I just want someone to look at her.”
We’re told to go into Room #3 and the doctor will be with us shortly.
I take Sylvia out of the box and cradle her in my arms as we sit down to wait. This is the same veterinary hospital where Mickey passed away last October.
As we wait, I kid you not, the song “Another One Bites The Dust” is being piped into the room.
I say out loud, “What the fuck?”
Sylvia looks at me. I tell her, “It’s OK. Everything’s going to be OK.”
The veterinary assistant comes in to prep Sylvia by checking her weight and taking her temperature.
“Sylvia’s lost some weight,” she says.
“I know. It’s her hyperthyroidism. There are always several plates of food out for her in the kitchen, but everything just burns up.”
She says, “Do you mind holding her while I take her temperature?”
I say, “Sure.. Don’t worry.. She won’t give you any problems.. She’s incredibly well-behaved.”
She says, “She’s so beautiful. I would never have guessed she was 19.. until I looked her in the eyes.”
I’m thinking, “There’s no need for that.”
As the assistant leaves the room I say to Sylvia, “Don’t listen to her. She’s just jealous. You’re beautiful. You heard her say that.”
The vet finally comes in. She’s someone I haven’t seen before. She says, “First off, congratulations! 19!”
“Well, I can’t take credit for that. She’s an amazing little girl.”
The vet tells me Sylvia might have an infection so she’s going to take her in the back to give her a shot of antibiotics and take a urine sample.
As I wait for them to return, the song “Right Back Where We Started From” comes on. I’m thinking, “Who is this?.. Kiki Dee?.. Yvonne Elliman?” Then I remember it’s Maxine Nightingale.
The vet comes back.
“Sylvia got her shot but I couldn’t get a urine sample. Her bladder is so small….. Do you mind if we hold her here for 2 or 3 hours?”
I immediately picture Sylvia sitting alone in a cage – a jail cell – terrified and thinking I’ll never return.
I say, “No, I can’t.. I’m sorry, but that would be too traumatic.”
I don’t tell her who that would be too traumatic for.
She says, “That’s OK. Just monitor her behavior and let me how she’s doing.. She's very beautiful!”
As we drive home Sylvia is sound asleep. Not making a sound. Her head resting on my hand.
We made it through another visit...
Here's to the battle, whatever it's for
To ask the best of ourselves, then give much more
Here's to the miracles they make us see
Here's to the winners all of us can be
Sylvia Elizabeth Jane Katzenblach passed away on 28 September 2016 at the age of 19.
There are no words adequate to describe how much it hurts to lose such an amazing individual. It may seem cliche to say, yet 100% true, that she will stay in my heart for as long as I live. Her resilience, her intellect, her silly sense of humor, her unconditional, limitless love, and nearly two decades of prized memories will stay with me forever.
Sylvia, I hope you received as much love & happiness as you gave.
Till we meet again....
Sylvia and her brother Mickey (2014)