Yesterday, as I sat staring at the whitewashed, stone walls of the hotel and felt the sun beat down on my legs, wheely suitcase alongside me, I realised something with a jolt. My brain was turned off. Finally.
They say that when it rains it pours, and recently it’s been very wet over my little patch of world. I left my job, familiar, comfortable, my desk another arm -- jars and broken pens and half-used tubes of hand cream. Then came new hospital appointments, new doctors to meet and new departments to find in the winding maze of the building that smells of antiseptic and carnations. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a letter from the haematology department of the hospital, telling you to "please bring a friend or relative along to the appointment so you can fully understand your diagnosis," but if you have I bet you a fiver you were completely terrified about it.
I don’t know who writes those letters, but JESUS CHRIST they need to chill out a bit. I basically thought I was going to be told I was dying. And I haven’t even tried a cronut yet! The good news is that the letter was just overdramatic -- I’ve got to have an iron infusion in a couple of weeks to boost my pathetic iron stores and some B12 injections like a CELEBRITY. Although the nice doctor still can’t explain some of the weird stuff my blood does, he’s not too fussed about it. I’ll be having some more investigations, but I can live with a few blood tests! I’ve had a camera up my arse, for god’s sake. A blood test is NADA to a pro like me.
And so life goes on. Except, sometimes, it doesn’t.
Our cat died. When I think of the worst things that I’ve ever done, having to put our lovely little ball to sleep ranks pretty high up there. If not first. Actually, yeah. It was the worst thing I've ever done.
It turned out that our sweet little hop-along rescue cat was a lot older than we thought, and her scant appetite and love of a nap was because she had end-stage renal failure. We took a trip to the vet, which we expected to result in some antibiotics and maybe a special diet, but by that evening we no longer had a tiny little cat-baby. She was put to sleep in the crook of my arm, purring gently and trusting us to do what was best for her.
We went back to an empty home, folded away her blanket, holding her little silver collar still warm and covered in her fur, emptied her food bowl and washed it up and put it away into a cupboard. Everything hurt. Moving the little tub of treats from beside the bed that Chris had tried to entice her into eating that morning, finding a half-crunched one and sobbing as I threw it away, feeling like I was throwing her away. Hoovering away the tiny grains of litter that had stuck to her paws that morning and trailed onto the carpet, her litter tray still wet while she was cold and waiting to be turned into ashes that we’d keep on a shelf and try not to look at. Leaving the house the next day with puffy, red-rimmed eyes without giving her little fluffy head a kiss and telling her we’d be back later.
You know when you cry so much you’re not sure you’ll ever stop crying ever again? Yeah, that was me. I bought new bedding because the old bedding reminded me of her too much, her little tabby body curled up in duvet cover in the morning, while I made the bed around her.
Luckily, we’d booked a trip away at the beginning of the year that happened to coincide with the end of the week of TEARS AND MISERY and so we packed our bags and said goodbye to a cold, unwelcoming house with a bit of fur here, a cat biscuit there, and flew to the sun.
The sun is an unrivaled tonic. As I look out of the window now, at the grey sky and the rain beating on the glass (may I remind you that it is, in fact, MAY), I can hardly believe that barely a few hours ago I was in a slip dress, rolling a Coke can on my thighs to cool them down.
Five days of that searing heat, the warmth on my face, the reflection of the sun on water. It took time, but the buzzing at the front of my head turned silent. The hot knot in my stomach that darted about and would only disappear after a handful of carbs seemed to be less angry. The sicky feeling ebbed away.
The bright pink flowers dotting the landscape delighted me every morning. The feral cats on every corner, shocked at the prospect of being stroked, gave us some comfort, like Moggins had sent them over to make us happy again (I am aware that this sounds totally ridiculous if you’ve never loved an animal, but trust me, it makes sense if you have).
I suppose all of those people who told me that I would in fact feel better were right. We’ll bring her home this week, home to where she spent a few last months being loved and adored and just be thankful that we got the opportunity to meet her even for that short time. And tonight, make sure you all hug your fur-babies extra tight.
Natalie's on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM