Last night, as I lay in bed intently listening for sounds of retching, I realized that this must be what parents feel like. There was no way I could fall asleep even though it was far past my usual bed time. As the minutes expanded into the wedge of my eight hours, I lay awake. Not just awake, but with keenly perked ears.
I had come home to find Vespa looking peakish and two pools of kitty vomit. She had puke on her whiskers and she acted as if she had taken bad mushrooms. I wasn’t sure how to feel. I come from a farm, and when a pet gets sick, that’s it- no vet, no drugs, no splints, no dialysis. Vespa was docile and had a glazed look in her eyes. We lay on the bed, looking at each other. Her face began to move, and I was entranced by her right lip curling up and her right eye squinting closed.
"She’s having a stroke," I thought to myself. I was whispering the kinds of statements to her that one says to a victim when the ambulance is on its way. "It’s OK, I’m not going to leave, you’re doing fine, just breath normally …"
Her face relaxed. I relaxed as well. We spent the rest of the evening on the couch watching a Nova special on Neanderthals (it’s pronounced neeander-tals now). It was nice to have a docile cat, instead of the clawing biting ‘it’s just playing’ Vespa of good health. Jason was playing poker with friends in Andersonville, but I wasn’t worried. If his cat kicked it while he was gone, I was fairly certain he wouldn’t project his Kubler-Ross anger onto me.
In an unprecedented move, Vespa came to sleep with me. As I was nestling and snuggling myself into my sleeping arrangement, I could hear her licking her chops intently. She silently heaved, calmly got off the bed, and positioned herself (legs splayed, head down) for more puking.
This part I found interesting. She’d vomit, take a few steps back, vomit, take a few steps back, and successfully managed to keep her fur clean. She pukes better than I do. I require a scrunchy at the very least.
At this point, with bright yellow vomit on the wooden floor, I wanted Jason to come home and take care of his cat. It was 11:30 p.m. and I had to be up at 6. I Googled the keywords yellow, cat, vomit and found out that most cats’ puke is yellow. Well that’s good. I made an effort to shake the vision of Vespa’s death throes, and laid down to fall asleep.
Even when Jason got home and climbed into bed, I kept thinking I heard retching. At one point I made him go check for new puke spots.
As I finally fell asleep, I pondered parenthood. I had an evening with a sick cat. I have no idea how much of a worrisome wreck I’d be if I had a sick child to tend to. Even if it wasn’t mine, I’d be up at 1 a.m. holding a mirror to its nose.