I decided to submit this for a competition as well. Thoughts?
Memories that Last Forever – By Pamela Vang
I should not be driving. The rain falls down fast and hard on the clear glass window of my white Ford Ranger like an awful foreshadow of the future. These big, fat, and ugly tears rolling hot and steadily down my face. Today had started out like any other day. The sun was out, and it was the middle of the afternoon. I had just finished grocery shopping and strolled into my client’s home. I was on pet-sitting duties as she was away on vacation for the next two months. Tamay was her name. She was a Tabby. She was 23 years old—she was alive by the sheer will and determination of her owner, Sandra.
I remember taking the elevator to the second floor and walking to the big metal door etched with the numbers 206. I set the brown bag full of cat food down as I fished for the keys out of my old red beat up purse that my mom got me for my 18th birthday. I got it! As I inserted the key into the slot, I felt a weird chill go down my spine. I just shook it off. My mom has a habit of telling me one too many ghost stories.
The door is unlocked. I twist my set of keys out of the lock, lean down and drag the grocery bag into the house. I close the heavy door with my left foot while looking back to make sure no ghosts followed me home. I quickly lock the door. Phew. I’m in luck I think to myself. I bend down to lift the bag off the floor to set it on the counter. Normally Tamay is at the door ready to greet me. She hates being alone. Weird. I thought. As I set the bag on the counter, I look out into the dining and living room, and I gasp in shock. There she is Tamay. Convulsing on the floor. Her poor skinny body just shaking all over as her eyes are dilated.
I rush to her side, but I don’t know what to do. Do I call the vet? Do I call the owner? Did I do this? I left her last night just fine. She was mad at me for leaving so early as I usually spend 3 hours a day with her, but I had a date that day. It didn’t work out. He looked like a Viking with long, blonde hair, blue eyes, and a beard that hung to his chest. He only talked about sword fighting the whole date. I grabbed an ivory cashmere blanket throw off the sofa, and I put her shaking body in it. I know Sandra will kill me after, but I think I can justify it by saving her cat’s life.
As I lay Tamay into the passenger seat of my Ford Ranger, I prayed to God like I never have my whole Catholic life.
“Lord, if you just keep her alive. Please. Sandra cannot live without her. If you have any mercy, Lord. Please!”
I back out of the garage stall and drive up to the garage door that will let us out so I can get the vet to check her out and make sure Tamay is okay. It felt like the slowest 3 minutes of my life as I waited for the garage door to open.
I remember thinking to myself, great. What’s next? Well. Karma. It’s raining so hard, there is almost no visibility. My big tires are screeching in the water and rain as I drive recklessly to the vet. I made promises I know I could not keep with the Lord. I beg and plead and promise to do better; become better. I also kept looking at Tamay and hoped she was in no pain. My wipers were going so quickly, while the rain kept falling and falling. I had an old country station on, and it was playing the saddest love song ever. I turned it off. I blew through three red lights with horns honking and blasting at me. Yes, I know it’s raining but I have a life to save. I drove to the vet like a person who is about to have a baby because I want Tamay to live. I didn’t know much, except that I needed help.
I drove up the ramp into the small shopping mall area almost taking out all the signs that tell you to slow down. The wet rain making the ramp slipperier than normal. My wipers quickly going back and forth sloshing rain off my window so I can see where I am going—barely. I illegally rolled the truck into three parking stalls; skidding so hard I left tire marks and the awful sound of screeching tires. I don’t remember taking my keys out of the ignition.
I carefully pick up Tamay wrapped in the warm blanket and hold her to my chest while I booked it to the vet’s office. I run into the vet’s office, and the young front desk worker looked me up and down as if I was a crazy person.
She said to me, “All animals must be in a crate.”
I croaked out, “Please help me. This cat. She’s shaking. Is she going to be okay?”
The young red head girl quickly looks down, and ushers me into one of the side rooms. “I’ll get the vet,” she said as she rushes away.
I laid Tamay down on the cold metal slab and I stroked her head. “You’re safe now, Tamay. We have help. Please, please live a little longer. Fight a little more.”
A tiny blonde haired, blued eyed lady comes in and asks, “What is the problem?”
I respond, “I am cat sitting for Sandra. She comes here with Tamay often. I don’t know what happened. I fed her yesterday, she was just fine. Today, I found her like this, curled up by the window, soaking in the sun. Her body was convulsing so badly. I didn’t know what to do. So, I came here.”
She responds, “I’ll have to call Sandra for permission to even look at her. Do you have her number?”
“Yes. However, she is on vacation and remote. So, her reception might be spotty.” I blabbered as I pulled out my phone from my jacket and dialed Sandra’s number. Sandra, please, please, please pick up. One thing working in my favour today, Sandra picks up.
“Hi, Penny. How is my cat doing?” Sandra responds cheerily, as she is unaware of the exercise I have just been through.
“Not good.” I said. “I found her convulsing on the floor. I didn’t know what to do, so I went to the vet. They won’t look at her without your go-ahead.” I started to cry. Sandra and the vet are conversing at this time. I am so distraught, I tune them out.
“Penny.” Sandra said. She must have said this repeatedly because I felt a hand on my back, and a voice whisper, “I have to put her down. It’s the most humane thing to do. She’s gone. She won’t feel a thing. When her eyes are dilated like that, she’s gone.” At this point, I cannot hold my sobs in. They come out like a mama bear who lost her cub. I know what Tamay meant to Sandra. Tamay is the longest relationship Sandra had ever had. She and her husband divorced years ago and had no children. Tamay was Sandra’s reason for living.
The vet lady, ushers me out of the observation room and tells me all the details about how Tamay will be cremated with other animals. I can pick up her ashes by the end of the week if I need. How, she thought I should drive home in this condition is beyond me. I barely remember getting back to my truck. I try to think, where do I go? What do I do? This isn’t even my cat. Why am I crying so hard? I know one thing for sure. I should not drive home. Especially when it is raining and wet.
I can barely see out of my truck imagine crying and also not being able to see because you have hot streams of tears just rolling down your face. I know I should pull over and call my mom. But at this point, I also just want to go home because this feels so traumatic. Imagine, having to deal with a funeral of a cat. I wish people would experience this and realize the importance of a will or having some sort of directions. I was in no frame of mind or could even emotionally comprehend everything. I was grieving. Also, vets, please, please never let an emotional person drive home. Especially after a loss.
This drive home was much slower in pace. The rain falls hard on my window. It feels like jabs in my heart and throat as I choke back tears that refuse to listen as they trickle down my face and pool on my jacket. I try to remember all the times Tamay would be waiting at the door for me when I would arrive to feed her as she was starving for human connection. Tamay did not like being pet by anyone except Sandra so when she was affectionate, I would reap in it. I remember the first time we met and how she walked past me and had her tail up as she sauntered into another room like I was not worthy of her. I remember how she would wait impatiently for her wet food. Her eyes saying, “Human. Hurry. I, your Queen, am hungry.”
I drove on auto-pilot. I don’t know how I got home. I open my truck door and step out into the rain. I fall down on my knees and openly grieve like the rain wetting the Earth’s ground. I become one with Mother Nature.