Saturday, July 26, 2014

Our Biggest Issue

Boris, in his comfy chair
Last weekend, amidst all the turmoil in this world, Boris--our beloved little 18 year old cat--died. We woke up early last Saturday morning, fully expecting to be greeted by Boris's usual "where's my breakfast?" meows, followed by him ignoring our dogs while boldly drinking from their water bowl, and then sauntering over to his comfy brown chair for a nap. Instead, we awoke to find him lethargic, confused, and very weak. Thinking Boris might have suffered a stroke, we immediately took him to the vet. The news wasn't reassuring. Although Boris hadn't had a stroke, he was severely dehydrated; his labwork revealed that he was in renal failure. The vet recommended a trial of intravenous hydration. Feeling this was a reasonable course of action, and knowing that either Boris would respond or he wouldn't, we left Little Buddy in the doctor's capable hands.


Ria's peach pancakes=pure comfort
Funked out and in dire need of some comforting familiarity, Spartacus and I hit Ria's, our usual Saturday morning breakfast spot. In between talking about Boris and guzzling strong coffee, we discussed a conversation I was involved in on Blog Catalog (BC). BC is a worldwide blogging community with an active discussion forum. I've befriended people from all over the world there, several of whom are kindred spirits that I'd love to meet in person someday. I've shared some of the most intimate details of my life on BC, things that most people don't know about me. The topics of discussion are endless. We talk about our blogs, personal lives, culture, nature, religion, politics, philosophy, history, technology, art, poetry, music, pets, travel, food...you name it. Occasionally, the discussions get heated or trolls stop by to visit, but fortunately, the forum moderates itself pretty well. In my three years of involvement on BC, I've learned a tremendous amount about communication, how to talk open-mindedly with other people about complex or emotionally charged issues and perhaps most importantly, how not to take things too personally or myself too seriously.  

Anyhow, back to the discussion. It was centered on the observation that no one on the forum was talking about the current turmoil in the world, namely the bombing of that Malaysian Air passenger plane over the Ukraine or the Israeli-Palestine conflict in Gaza, the question being whether this lack of interest was an isolated phenomenon or reflective of society at large. In other words, were the world's big issues somehow less significant than our personal lives? Shouldn't we be more focused on things bigger than ourselves?

Visiting with Boris
Later that afternoon, we visited Boris at the vet. A tech brought him into the visitation room, swaddled in a wooly green blanket. He didn't seem seem bothered by the IV line above his paw. He meowed in recognition when he saw us, and we took that as a sign he was responding favorably to the hydration. He surprised us by wriggling out of his blanket to explore the room. I took lots of pictures of him and Spartacus. It was a very good 45 minutes. Feeling somewhat reassured, we went out for dinner, both of us thinking Boris would be coming home the next day.

At 7 o'clock the next morning, the vet called. Boris's condition had deteriorated overnight and he was now minimally responsive. He wasn't going to make it. We jumped out of bed and headed over there, hoping that Boris could hang on long enough for us to cuddle him one last time before saying goodbye. 


Anguish and letting go
They brought him out, wrapped in the same green blanket, but this time he looked terrible. Ragged. Worn out. Breathing hard with his mouth wide open. It was awful. Spartacus and I both wept inconsolably. Even though Boris was very old and we knew this day would eventually come, we still weren't prepared for it. What a profound experience it was to cradle this majestic, fiercely independent living creature who'd brought so much joy into our lives as he breathed his last few breaths. Boris lived a good life and died a gentle death. I'm grateful that he didn't suffer through a prolonged, painful illness and that we were able to comfort him in his final moments. 

I'll be honest. The only big issues in my life concern the people (and pets) I know and love. I am much more interested in sharing experiences and connecting with other people than worrying about what's going on in the world. That doesn't mean I deem war and suffering as insignificant or that I lack compassion. It means I understand that the only control I have is over myself and my own actions in life. Kind of like that old TV commercial which went something like, "We don't want to change the world, we just want to change your oil." Being an agent of change isn't about changing other people anyway. We're all constantly changing the world through our own spheres of interaction and influence, just by being here and living life. Nearly all of the problems in the world result from fear generated by people minding other people's business instead of tending to their own. Human behavior hasn't really changed much throughout the millennia. There has always been war, hatred, famine, torture, and poverty. It's just that now there's no escaping the nosy neighbor media. 24/7, it's there in your face, like Gladys Kravitz on steroids. As long as people concern themselves with what everyone else should be doing, instead of focusing on doing what good they can in their own lives, there will be fear and judgment and conflict and injustice.

L-->R: Me, Nick, Jim, & Rory
Monday, the day after Boris died, was my sons' 24th birthday. Back in May, Nick bagged his first wild turkey on a hunting trip with his dad, Jim. This was the first time Nick had hunted since high school, and his birthday wish was for us to have Thanksgiving in July with roast wild turkey and all the trimmings. By us, I mean his twin brother, Rory, Jim and his girlfriend, Glenda, his friends, Chad and Tiberius Funk, Spartacus, and me. Quite a crowd, huh? Coincidentally, Nick's been struggling with a lung infection that hasn't responded to oral antibiotics, pretty typical for someone with cystic fibrosis. So, on Monday, while I was baking birthday cake and roasting his gorgeous 15 pound bird, Nick was at Emory, getting a special catheter placed in his arm for a couple weeks' worth of home intravenous antibiotic therapy. Such is life. That evening, amidst all the turmoil in the world, Nick and Rory celebrated their birthday, surrounded by family and friends whose only goal was to thoroughly enjoy ourselves and each other, our biggest issue being whether or not to have a tiny sliver or a bigass slice of German chocolate cake. 

23 comments:

  1. Im so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved Borris. They're part of the family and it's so hard when we lose them :( Sending you prayers and thoughts of comfort and peace.

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    1. Thanks, Tony. It's been a week since Boris died, and I still catch myself glancing at his brown chair, expecting to see him curled up asleep. He really was family.

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  2. I could understand what it means to loose someone who has been a part of family for last 18 yrs. You've opened your heart Kris. And, I wanna tell you that it reached my heart.

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    1. Thanks, Ravish. My husband watched Boris being born 18 years ago, so Boris's absence has been especially tough on him. I'm surprised at how much I miss that little cat!

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  3. Nemesis of life is death, of Internet the trolls, and of peace the terrorists. It must have been heartbreaking to watch him slipping away after being a part of your lives for so many years. But, as they say, we must look ahead, always.

    Somehow I cannot stand the Israel bashing. Hamas is hell bent on wiping away the Jewish country. I am sorry to say, they are using their women and children as human shields and their slaughter as promotional stuff against Israel. Is it Israel's fault that causalities at their end are relatively insignificant? You may think I am mimicking the words of Israelis but how much the Palestine spent in constructing that intricate, mammoth network of tunnels into Israel?

    The murder of a plain-load of people is utterly unforgivable, regardless of the intentions.

    May the twins enjoy a hundred years of German chocolate cakes.

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    1. Uma, the idea that humans are little more than collateral damage in ideological warfare is beyond repugnant. Yet, all these folks consider themselves civilized. Working for the greater good, so to speak. It's absolutely insane. I think we need more cake and less ideology ;-)

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    2. I was sorry to hear about Boris.
      Sounds like he had a happy, long run though. It was good to hear that he passed surrounded by loved ones.

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    3. Thanks, Jayme. I was so glad we were there for Boris in his final moments. Such a sweet old man.

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  4. Goodbye sweet Boris! Kris, I am very sorry for your loss and I understand so well having lost my beloved dogs, Coco in April and Roscoe last year. The day I knew we were losing Coco it happened fast like that too. Even though I’d been through it before and Coco was a senior too like Boris, I did not feel prepared when the time came. Pets are a huge part of our lives. I still miss my pups every day! Boris lived a full and happy life with you, Brad and your sons. I love the way he ruled the house, ignoring the dogs while drinking from their bowl lol! The time you and Brad spent with Boris at the vet’s office was his goodbye to you and a very special moment, I can relate. I wept inconsolably too over Roscoe and Coco (and before that, our husky Princess years ago). Very touching photo of Brad with Boris, such love and concern on his face.

    Agree with you that a lot of the world’s problems “result from fear generated by people minding other people’s business instead of tending to their own.” Exactly!

    Happy Birthday to Nick and Rory! Nice family photo. Congrats to Nick on his wild turkey hunt and I hope he is recovering well from the lung infection.

    Wonderful post, Kris! Again, my heart goes out to you and Brad about your beloved Boris. I bet he’s now bossing around the dogs and other cats at the Rainbow Bridge, while relaxing on a cushioned bed of soft clouds!

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    1. Madilyn, I thought about you, Coco, and Roscoe a lot during this blog post. When Boris and I first met, we weren't too crazy about each other. It took awhile for us to grow on each other. It has surprised me how attached I was to him. He was such a character, all 5 pounds of him. I am so glad that we had the 45 minutes of good visit with him the day before he died. I got so many great photos of him and Brad together.

      The boys had a great birthday! Nick is feeling better on his IV antibiotics and is continuing his daily walks to improve his lung function. Hopefully, he won't need a tune up for another 4 years.

      I love the imagery of Boris, bossing the other animals around while relaxing on a cushioned bed of soft clouds :-)

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  5. It must be hard to see Boris pass away. At least you guys tried everything you could.

    BC indeed is a wonderful place to meet friends. About the issues we concern about, I think it's just personal preferences. As long as we can find common interest, communication goes on. I am pretty an outsider of big issues. They seem to be so remote from my life.
    That's a beautiful picture of your son's birthday party. Life goes on. As always.

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    1. Yun,
      Neither of us wanted Boris to suffer through a prolonged illness or dialysis. Animals (and humans) aren't meant to live that way. He died a dignified death. We both miss him terribly.

      I agree with you about communication and finding common interests. BC has been such a valuable experience in that regard. It's taken me awhile, but I've really learned not to personalize people's opinions or the things they say. It's been very liberating.

      Yes, the big issues do seem remote, but they are also nothing new. I used to fancy myself as an activist at heart, but I think I had the wrong idea about activism. It seems that activists always want the people around them to change. If they focused more on their own actions instead of calling everyone else to action, maybe it would catch on.

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  6. Sorry to hear about Boris, the loss of a close dear friend is never easy. Nor is coming home to a house that is infinitely more empty then it was before.

    "Plane flies over a live war zone and gets shot down", is this newsworthy? Do they fly over live volcanoes as well ? Seems almost suicidal, and beyond careless. Why on earth nobody is asking WTF we're they doing flying over a war zone is beyond me.

    As for the big world topics, myself as a member of BC, this is why I am not talking about it much. The senseless loss of life seems to continue no mater what I say, and speaking out against it simply causes the bad guys to take notice of you. We all know its wrong. We all know its bad, but somewhere, some greedy weapon seller, and his investors are happily counting their money, and spending a little bit of it on disinformation. I defiantly hope there is a hell for them.

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    1. Scott,
      Yes, the house is SO empty and quiet without Boris. He was a real talker. I spent so much time conversing and meowing with him.

      I also have to wonder why that plane wasn't rerouted. Crazy. We humans like to consider ourselves so civilized, but given the ongoing lack of humanity in the world, we're far from it. Bullies thrive on attention and that's exactly what the media gives them. I don't think it's ignorant to go on with our own lives as best we can. I believe it was nothingprofound who said something like ignorance isn't nearly as dangerous as meddling is. I agree.

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  7. So sorry to hear about Boris, though it is wonderful you had him 18 years. As for that plane getting shot down, all I can say is, "Ugh." It disturbs me along with so many other things happening in this world. I wish life was respected more. But I'll end on a happy note. Happy birthday to Nick and Rory! Sounds like the celebration was fabulous!

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    1. "Ugh" is right!! I absolutely agree with you about wishing life were respected more. The birthday (and Nick's wild turkey) was fabulous!

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  8. Kris, the comments you made on that discussion at BC were absolutely brilliant. Everyone has a right to chose the things that are important to them. Criticizing others because they don't share the same interests or concerns is just a feeble way of trying to assert some sort of moral or intellectual superiority. One can't help but feel some sort of desperate cry for attention behind it all. I wish everyone would just leave everyone else the hell alone.

    Love the picture, Kris. You all look so happy. The boys really resemble their Dad. I got an extra kick out of this post because it's dated on my daughter's birthday. She just turned 25.

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    1. Happy birthday to your baby girl, Marty! Yes, the boys really do resemble their dad. I feel so fortunate that he and I are good friends. I think it's a wonderful thing for children whose parents aren't together to know that they still love and respect each other as individuals. As far as the world issues go, yes, I think people are too quick to criticize others who are just trying to live their own lives as being ignorant, as if doing what good you can in your own life and minding your own business doesn't make a difference in the world.

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  9. My condolences on your loss. Losing a pet that's been around forever can be a real kick in the gut. But it sounds like Boris had a good life.

    As to world events, most of the time I'm not worrying about Gaza, or The Ukraine or wherever, I'm wondering what's for tea or whether my family are well. I know it sounds hard-hearted but if I worried all the time about WW3 breaking out, I'd crawl into a corner and never come out.

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    1. Thanks so much, Big D. Boris really did have a good, long life. I am totally with you on worrying about everything that's going on in the world. I don't think it's hard-hearted to leave the worrying to someone else at all...I see that as common sense :-)

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  10. I read this post Sunday morning while having my first of many cigarettes and I can say I feel the sadness that surrounded your family. I had to wait to comment because I am not a big fan of death or how it leaves the survivors feeling. As with people, no amount of consoling can ever lighten the way others feel inside. I am sorry for your loss and also happy that you can celebrate the many years of memories. Y'all are all I'm my thoughts.

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    1. Thanks, Steven. The fact that both Brad and I were very attached to Boris is helping us muddle through all the emotions together. We don't have our own children, so Boris was like our baby.

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  11. All my sympathy and love, it is heartbreaking to lose a beloved pet. I have been thinking about your words, it is not that we don’t care about all the heartache and injustice. You are right, we just try to make sense of it by looking inwards first. You guys look great and happy birthday to Nick and Rory!

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