I’m sure you’ve come to accept less frequent posts from me. For a minute, well, lots of individual minutes, I’ve contemplated calling it quits altogether. But I come back to one source of momentum: I like writing. I’ve never felt that I was particularly good at it, or that I had anything of any real importance to write about, but writing, it makes me feel good. It’s cathartic sometimes. And while I know that there are very few of you guys hanging on and reading here, and I do appreciate those of you who do, at the end of the day I write for me. No offense, of course ;).
I haven’t had much to say lately. 2013 was off to a great start, but once it turned into August, things really started to suck. Most of life’s stresses are typically overcome by taking some deep breaths, sometimes simply a little time, maybe even some conversations with loved ones, and always with a drink or two (sorry, but who disagrees with me? exactly.).
But some things, some of life’s pains, they just don’t fade away that easily. In this exact case, that pervasive pain is occurring because I’ve lost someone I love.
That someone just happens to be Tange, the best cat in the whole wide world.
It’s noteworthy to say that Tange was living her 15th year and, quite frankly, she was living it gracefully. It should also be noted that, despite her age and apparent well-being, I was and always would have been unprepared for how empty parts of my life have become without her.
In an effort to spare myself from discussing the details in depth one more time, I’ll be as brief as I can, and say that we incidentally found an abdominal tumor, and we proceeded to exploratory surgery. We dropped her off on a Friday morning, we gave her a mini-hug (she was already pissed at that point because she was, once again, at the damn vet), and we drove to work. That afternoon, we learned that she had a rare complication that resulted in a load of internal bleeding. A few transfusions and a stressful drive back to the city later, we stood by her side watching her breathe through a tube, one short breath after the other. And after what felt like days but was really an hour, we decided it was time to say goodbye.
I’m not kidding or even being the least bit dramatic when I say that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
I immediately wrapped my arms around her, and I cried like a baby. I cried all weekend, and I cried practically every day until last week. When I thought I was finished crying, I started writing this, and then I cried again. I look at the beautiful wooden box of her ashes, and I cry. I look at her picture, and I cry. Sometimes I even look at Sasha, our other cat, and I cry.
The thing is, I knew I was going to lose her soon. But soon was within the year, maybe even a couple of months. Soon meant I had plenty of time to hold her more, to let her eat a donut from my chest, and to feed her bacon and rotisserie chicken. Soon meant I could cry in front of her while she was living, not over her lifeless little body. Soon meant I could be selfish, but instead, we had to be self-less. We had to be grown-ups, and we had to recognize what was best for her. And maybe it was best for us, but damn, that’s so hard to rectify.
I like to say that my heart is full of memories. I like to say that I’m grateful for every day I had with her, because truthfully, she was so special to me. I like to say that one day this hurt, this emptiness, will go away. I hope it does. But the truth of the matter is that I miss her exactly as much as I knew I would. I knew this would be hard – she was my baby. She’s been with me through everything, she’s moved across the country with me, she jumped onto the couch every night with me after dinner, and she practically raced me to the bed each night. She made those faces that said, “Mama, I know you love me. I know I’ve got you wrapped around my finger (well, paw), but I love you just as much.” And she did – that cat loved me more than bacon.
In some ways, it’s relieving to know that we don’t have to consider chemo, that we don’t have to continue her thyroid medications, that we don’t have to worry about her if we leave for the night. It’s comforting to know that cancer never took over her entire little body. And I’m so thankful for that last night we spent with her – a typical night with lots of love, but a really big dinner that included bacon, her favorite, and a taste of a donut.
But I’d give anything to have her here, even knowing how bad it hurts to lose her. I’d give anything to have another month or two, another week or damn, just a freakin’ day, because even now, I see her everywhere, I feel her everywhere, and this house just isn’t the same.
I miss her so much. I can’t even explain it. But I do trust that time will heal.
If you’re still here, I appreciate that you took time to stay and read. Thank you for that.
In the meantime, I made a lot of baked goods over the past two weeks because, as it turns out, I’m switching jobs. I made treats for the last days at Stanford and on the final day, I decided it was time to cook bacon, and to do the only thing that made sense – to put it in a donut. Why not?
If Tange were here, I just know she would approve….
Maple Bacon Donuts
from King Arthur Flour; makes 12
time commitment: 1 hour
1/4 c butter
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1/2 t maple extract (or 1 t vanilla)
2 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 c milk
6 slices bacon, cooked, cooled, and crumbled into large pieces
3 to 4 T maple syrup
1 c confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt
about 1/4 c maple syrup, enough to make a spreadable frosting
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans or use 1 and do in two batches.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and maple flavor.
Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
Distribute the bacon pieces evenly among the wells. Drizzle the maple syrup over the bacon, using about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon per donut.
Spoon the batter evenly into the pan(s), filling the wells up to the rim.
Bake the donuts for 15 minutes, or until they’re raised and firm, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one comes out clean.
Remove them from the oven, and place on a rack or trivet. Loosen the edges of the donuts with a table knife or spatula, and immediately turn the pan(s) over onto a piece of waxed paper. Cool on rack.
Make the glaze: Stir together the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and enough maple syrup to make a spreadable glaze.
Spread the glaze over the donuts. Serve warm, or at room temperature. Wrap any leftovers loosely in plastic, and store for 1 day at room temperature; refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.