26 June, 2012

Rain and sadness

Yesterday Chuck and I returned from Santiago Matatlan, the Capital Mundial de Mezcal (the world capital of mezcal) where his mezcal is made, and it was pouring. I was driving Allan and Teri's beat-up old Ford van down the carterra (highway) praying that the tires wouldn't fail and that the windshield wipers would continue to work. You see, they have this tendency to stop working when you turn on the left-turn signal, which in Mexico you actually do a lot as people signal with their left blinker to say "Hey you can pass me" or "Hey I want to pass you". So you could imagine my white-knuckle terror as I'm driving (only going 80-100 kph or 50-55 mph) in a car that is one good tope (speedbump) away from completely falling apart, and every time I need to pass or allow someone to pass my windshield wipers stop and I have to squint through the rain at the gray ribbon in front of me. Thankfully I am a very confident driver and also grew up in a city famous for its inclement weather. Yeah Chicago!

Anyway we made it home just fine. But it was at home that I had my bit of sadness for the day. We were hanging out with Teri and Allan on their porch when, as I was getting up to get something from our casita, I heard the sound of a kitten crying. Now, I don't know what it is, but I have for whatever reason super-sonic hearing for crying kittens. My ears will always pick up their cries (and given the common analogy between baby cries and kitty cries I feel good about my future parenting skills)--you can ask Chuck, I am constantly rescuing kittens (I don't keep them though....Gizmo wouldn't allow it, she is an only-cat).

So I go look for this kitten. I can tell by her cries that she is outside our compound door. I go out there and I am looking but I can't find her, it's not easy to tell where she is based on her cries. So I look up, scan the top of the wall, I look around and when my eyes fall on the a pink box in the corner of our entrance I see a little back paw push through the plastic on the box front (it was previously a box for a girl's toy). Realizing the kitten was in this box I quickly scooped it up and brought it to the porch, alerting everyone to what was inside. I reached in to this soggy box and pull out the tiniest kitten--she couldn't have been more than 1 month old. One eye was blue, clearly from some kind of trauma, and the other was closed shut. She was wet, stinky and scared, and clung to the front of my sweater.

I held her close to keep her warm, and she began to purr. It was as if she was just so desperate for warmth and comfort that she wasn't scared of me. But I couldn't keep her--not only because of Gizmo but because with her eye damage I knew I didn't have the resources to nurse her to health. Teri suggested we take her to the vet that instant, and Allan kindly drove me to the nearest one. The vet was thankfully open, there were two guys in there and we explained the situation. They suggested we could take her to the pound, but Allan and I both knew that her chances of adoption were not good--as it turned out, her eye wasn't shut it was actually gone. She had experienced some kind of trauma that damaged one eye (but did not blind) and caused the complete loss of the other. And these were only the problems we could see. So we knew that she would never be adopted, and she would be put down anyway.

The humane thing to do then, was to have her put down at the vet's, where she could at least be with people who care, and not be alone in her final moments. Allan paid for her to be put down, then elected to go back home--which I could understand, these kinds of things are never fun. I decided to stay, and hold her while the tranquilizer took effect. Her breathing slowed, she vomited some ham that someone had tried to feed her (ham had also been in the box with her), and after 15 minutes the vet gave her the final shot, and she passed. They wrapped her body in a plastic bag, and gave her back to me. I took her home, and together Allan and I buried her in the yard.

There wasn't really much to say. It was sad, but it was the best thing to do. In Matatlan I held Joel's baby (Joel is the son of the Master Distiller Don Tacho) for the first time--he is only 1 month old. I couldn't then hold someone else's baby and then abandon her on the streets to die alone, cold, and slowly. If I had the resources and the space, I would have taken her in. But I didn't, and the best thing I could do was give her a peaceful death, and hold her as it happened. After it all went down I went and gave Gizmo the biggest hug in the world.

So, a bit of rain and sadness yesterday. Hopefully today the sun will shine.

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