Tonight, my mom tried to give mouth-to-mouth to a dead kitten.
It was only a few days old.
She called me sobbing. I knew this was coming.
I hadn’t allowed myself to hope the kitten would make it.
The rest of the litter had already died. The mom, a feral cat that lives in and out of her house, had abandoned her babies. Who knows why.
This situation was very upsetting and heartbreaking for my mom, whose chore has been to gather up dead kittens and put them in the trash this week.
The pragmatist in me felt anger first. “Ugh, MOM, stop feeding these wild cats! They only cause problems!”
I wanted to scream at her, but not because I’m mad about the cats.
I was mad about this moment. The one that came tonight, where she cried her raspy sobs into the other side of the phone and I stood there helpless, letting her grieve and offering my calming words.
“It’s okay mom. You tried hard. Nobody could have done much better, okay?”
“Okay,” she cried. “At least he purred a few times. That means he felt some happiness.”
“Yes, that’s right, mom. Do you want to stay on the phone with me while you put him away?”
“I want to pray over him first. Dear God. Thank you for his sweet life. Thank you for taking him now. Amen.”
“I named him Lorazepam,” she said. “He was a gift.”
This detail is when my own warm tears began to spill out, silently.
My cynical thoughts began to intrude almost at the same time my cheeks got wet.
Hey, that’s awesome. Your mom named her dead kitten after her medicine.
That is an amazing little detail. Of course she named the kitten after her medicine…. Ugh. Fuck this shit.
I can already hear the judgement from animal lovers as I’m typing this. “Couldn’t she have called animal control? Surely there was someone who could have helped. Maybe if they had tried this, or that…”
No. The answer is NO.
She called the vet. Nothing they can do, they told her.
She called Animal Control – who told her she would need to call the sheriff’s office or something first, to which my understandably paranoid mother said “no thank you.”
I put a post out to Facebook asking for any locals to take up the cause.
Here’s the thing.
The dead kitten? It’s awful.
But it’s not just that. It’s everything.
My mom had real hope she could keep that little thing alive. She was really hoping.
He was the last one left.
But he died.
There is not enough help.
I promise you, there is not enough help.
My mother, a 64-year-old, kindly, creative, grandmother, who wants to save all the kittens, is living alone inside a falling down house, with a colostomy bag, holding on to my words on the other side of the phone, and thanking me for being there, while she bags up the still-warm creature, praying to God and slurring her words because she took extra “lorazepam” to get her through the angst of today.
This is what it looks like.
This is what it really looks like.
And I keep hearing she’s one of the lucky ones…
If you have one single moment of judgement right now, feel free to private message me with your questions – I’ll be happy to spend a few hours explaining the basics about “why isn’t there live-in care?” or “Where is her social worker?” or “Why is she living alone?”
For now, please just trust me when I tell you, there is not enough help.
RIP, sweet little Lorazepam.
*** The image for this post was taken four years ago. It was not her cat. I wrote about dead pets back then, too. You can find another sad essay, HERE.