EL GATO PEQUENO

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Joedy left Tuesday to go to Santa Barbara, and I have to say it's been a little difficult being here without him. I was really, really nervous before he left, imagining Lula or Malko getting hurt, imagining a tsunami, a fire, boa constrictors, etc., but more than any precise worry it was the idea of him being so many miles away. If something did happen here, he couldn't exactly hop over, and what if something happened to him? How would I know?

Although apparently there really are boas lurking in the bushes in this part of Costa Rica, it's Malko who wins the prize for being Most Difficult Thing To Deal With since Joedy's been gone. Except for when he's asleep, all twenty pounds of Malko's Sumo-wrestler body are constantly wiggling, grabbing, sliding, and flailing--just holding him requires one's full attention and the dexterity of a gymnast. Recently he discovered a new pastime: night crawling. After waking me up for the eighth time to "nurse" (more like "bite" and "chew"), he'll decide to practice horizontal movement. Usually I'm half asleep by then, clinging to one of his chubby feet to keep him on the bed, and the banging sound I'll hear is his head against the wooden headboard. It wouldn't be nice to say I've wished he'd just knock himself out, but night after night of crappy sleep has made some odd thoughts cross my mind. Although I'm the one who breastfeeds Malko, the lifting of the fat heavy child from his crib, the positioning, the restraining, and the muttered swearing are done equally by Joedy, and at the very least I've missed him these last few days for the bleary looks we give each other while the coffee drips and while Malko, finally tired, sleeps in the middle of our bed.

Tuesday afternoon I squeezed Malko into his bike chair and gave Lula a push on her own little blue bike, and we rode from the carneceria, to the store that has Danish butter, to the store that has diapers, to the store that has cat food. By the time we'd gotten everything, my bike had a bag in the basket and two more dangling from the handlebars, and pedaling all that weight while monitoring Lula ("Stay on the side on the road, Lula. The side! Stop talking! Watch where you're--oh my god--going!") and while reaching back to keep Malko's head from wobbling was hard enough. When we saw the tiny kitten curled up by the side of the road, its eyes closed shut with crust and goo, my mothering instincts should have said "Enough!" But the kitten looked abandoned, just a lump of bones and fur next to a pile of trash, and when I picked it up and heard its pathetic meow I thought maybe, maybe we could save it.

I wrapped the kitten in Malko's burp cloth and put it in my basket. Although it wasn't far to the pet store, where we got advice, and the pharmacy, where we got eye drops, riding my bike was made more challenging by the fact that the kitten kept trying to climb out. I'd glance back at Malko to make sure his head was okay, and then I'd hear Lula scream, and then I'd see the small furry body dangling from the rim of the basket, and then--jesus!--I'd reach forward to save the cat, running through a deep muddy puddle and looking, I'm sure, totally ridiculous. Needless to say, it was a relief to get home.

I fed the kitten some milk with an eye dropper and cleaned its eyes, and was encouraged to see it walk around a little. It kept coming up to me and nestling between my body and the couch, and when Diablo licked its ears it raised its head, wondering maybe if this fuzzy animal with terrible breath was its mother. The kitten slept in the bathroom that night, beneath a shelf that created a cozy dark space, and it looked cute in there, curled up next to Lula's stuffed tiger. In the morning I cleaned its eyes and fed it again, and though its eyes were open now they still looked strange--bulbous, and a matte grey-blue color that made me wonder if it was blind. It seemed like it could hear and smell, but I couldn't tell if it could see. By the end of the day its eyes were still swollen and watery, and although it had drunk some milk it was still so weak and small, so sick and obviously in need of its mother, that I started seriously wondering how long it would live.

This morning, Lula asked if she could go look at the kitten in the bathroom, and when I heard her say "Maman, the little cat's not moving," my heart sank. When I saw it, I could tell it was dead--its body was stretched out, its mouth open--so I closed the bathroom door and prepared myself for Lula's reaction. When I told her it had died, she first protested and then began to cry, saying how much she loved it and how much she wanted it to be alive. It was sad seeing her so upset, and while I hugged her I decided I'm going to have to be a little more thick-skinned in Costa Rica: we'll probably see many, many more animals in need of a home, but we won't be able to take them all...

Lula stayed home from school and we spent the day drawing and watching a movie about a fox. She was fine by this afternoon, but she mentioned a few times that she couldn't wait for Joedy to come home. Grabbing pencils out of Malko's mouth, sweeping up dog hair, and thinking about the little cat who'd briefly been part of our family, I couldn't wait for Joedy to come home too.

2 comments:

uncleremus said...

my, my....
you are living lifetimes in mere days!!!!!
the comedic aspect of your life keeps the perspective in check!!!!
you are in a completely different world there, & your big heart is open & full of love!!!!
at least the little gato had some comfort & love before it passed on....what a lucky little creature!!!
try not to worry so much (ya right!!)
life is one great big adventure---so try to enjoy the ride!!!!
lots of love & support to you!!!

micaela.pelao said...

Oh! Isa-coeur-d'artichaut... Pour un petit chat roux, je dois dire...

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