"if you find somebody to love in this world
you better hang on tooth and nail
the wolf is always at the door
in a new york minute
everything can change"
~ don henley
it went by so fast.
from the time i picked up my cat out of the middle of the street to the time i returned home from the emergency vet clinic, it was little more than an hour.
at 6:30 p.m. i saw headlamps on both sides of the street as i drove up, and thought "runners out for an evening run." i pulled into the driveway and noticed two of the lamps were from guys working on utilities.
on the other side of the street was a young woman, and she was yelling something to me. i started walking toward her and in the next few seconds, everything changed.
"can you help me i don't know what to do i hit a cat."
at that moment my thinking brain shut down to a very low level.
it was one of our cats, down and writhing on the ground. i hesitated for what seemed like a long time, not sure what to do, not wanting to move her for fear of doing more damage.
deciding for me, a car rolled up fast, as if it didn't see us, and i frantically waved it off. no choice now, i had to get her out of the middle of the street.
i picked her up and held her against my chest, moving quickly toward the house.
"i'm so sorry i didn't see her she ran right out in front of me."
"it's not your fault."
miel wanted to live, and fought me hard. kicking at the restraint, she dug her claws into my hands. i was afraid of hurting her more, of holding her too tightly, so i set her down in a flower bed. she continued to writhe, and i noticed the blood all over my jacket.
"i'm so sorry."
"it's not your fault."
i ran into the house and found a towel in the hall closet. outside again, i threw open the garage door and emptied a cardboard box that was full of something, i don't know what.
miel was where i left her, panting hard. i wrapped the towel around her as gently as i could and lifted her up to put her in the box. she let out a high, painful groan.
i put her in the back seat and headed toward the emergency clinic. i wasn't thinking clearly enough to remember how to get there, but knew generally which direction to head. i figured it would come back to me as i drove.
she panted loudly and it occurred to me she might be too hot with the towel over her, so i rolled down the window. she quieted down and immediately i was afraid she was slipping away, so i started talking to her.
"i'm here miel i'm right here i'm sorry i know you're hurting i'm going to take care of you..."
i didn't tell her everything was going to be okay.
"i'm here miel i'm sorry i know you're hurting i'm not going to leave you...please don't leave me."
she struggled in the box, and i was afraid she was going to throw herself out of it.
"i'm here miel i'm here be still please be still i know you're hurting."
it went on like this for what seemed like a long time.
eventually we pulled up to the vet clinic, and i threw open the back door of the car. the blood was everywhere.
i half-ran with her toward the clinic door, while miel struggled to get out of the box. she was still so strong, still so full of febrile energy. she wanted to live.
i reached the front door and set the box down on the ground, holding her in with one hand, fumbling with the doorknob with the other. it was locked.
i looked higher up the door and there was a buzzer.
a vet tech came and let us in. i stammered out our story, she asked some questions, i gave some one-word answers.
"okay, i'm going to take her back now."
i knew what was going to happen next. every next thing had already played itself out in my head, and there was only one thing left. i reached into the box and gently touched miel's fur.
the doors opened and closed, and i wandered into the bathroom to wash off some of the blood.
"we need you to sign this here and here and here."
i signed, and sent hurried texts to my wife, who was boarding a plane for london. i barely held it together through a quick call from our daughter.
then i stood against a wall, waiting, sipping water from a dixie cup.
after a while, the vet came out.
"her heart is still beating but i'm not getting any neurological response the xrays showed some significant fractures to her skull at this point i think there's not much left we can do i think we have to euthanize her."
i nodded and sobbed a little.
"so you're okay if we go ahead...?"
i nodded and sobbed some more.
she went back through the doors.
our daughter texted, "please let me know what is going on"
i drove back home in a fog, accompanied by a low-grade dread something else bad might happen on the way home. it didn't.
our street was quiet and dark as i pulled into the driveway.
it was 7:35 p.m.
the next morning, as usual, the alarm went off at 6:15.
as usual i got up, fed the dogs, and took them for a walk in the rain. we circled the block and inevitably passed the spot where miel was hit.
something was there, in the middle of the street. we waited for a couple cars to pass to go pick it up.
it was miel's collar.
i picked it up and carried it home.