Friday, April 24, 2015

hail to the ringworm queen

It's like a ton of bricks have hit me, realizing you're gone, Brittany. Working the last six days without you has been rocky, so please excuse me if I frumble. we're struggling to treat the worst wound ever seen in the history of apa and it's located in the place where you're missing. you are the heart, the strongest and longest running part of the cat team, and it's unlikely that we'll be able to find a transplant.

When I first arrived at Austin Pets Alive, I was thrown into the cattery mid-kitten season, alone, sink or swim, with only a smidgen of first-hand cat medical knowledge and zero shelter experience. Laylee introduced me to Brittany as a fellow introvert: the first thing I learned was that we shared anxieties, fears, sensitivities, sadness. And still I saw her whip out a smile for every visitor and watched her adopt out cats with such confidence, I knew I would be okay.

Brittany was always there to answer every question, gently offer advice, and quietly provide feedback without ever criticizing. Without her guidance, reassurance, and closing-time venting smoke breaks, I would've drowned. Each poop picture, each sketchy adopter, each dumb question, she would always try to help. Any time a situation was so draining, so painful, so difficult that i wanted to give up, i found myself asking "what would Brittany do?" every time, I found the answer was the most selfless option.

YES she would kiss anybody, funguys and scabies babies alike
YES she would stay up all night, just in case.
YES she would just go ahead and offer everybody a whole nother can.
and by golly if she didn't know the answer, she would go home and research until she was on the road to be the next expert

I saw her treat every life as equal, deserving, and precious, and I wanted to be that good.

But she wanted reassurance too. She never thought she was good enough, always wanted to be better. She set herself at such high standards that she set the standard for all of us. She wanted to be able to give them everything. She took the worst ones, she held and healed and coaxed and loved, and I saw them transform, just from being around her. How proud she was of each Dazey's grad, how she brought them to cattery when they cleared, each one a present at our door. each accomplishment, each life, and Brittany bubbling over with anticipation to put the soul on a name tag, and sometimes crying to say goodbye, although they were only one building over, never really gone.

you will never really be gone. your blood sweat tears soul in the walls, in the concrete, in the porous germy crevices of the blueboxes we so despise. you are laughing in our hearts, still creeping and scheming.

If you are not a magic ringworm glitter elf, then I do not believe in anything.

I wish I could remember everything, but I only have pieces:

when you taught me to set live traps for stray kittens and instead we caught possums
when virulent calicivirus struck our cattery
when humpty's eye exploded
when alvin's back fell off
when lucy's eye was leaking blood
when my whole skin went crazy
when yr whole skin went crazy
when i watched cats transform just being with you
when i was so anxious about deep cleaning after calici that you wrote 6 pages of step-by-step instructions for me
when you told me mikey was your new boyfriend and i wanted her to be mine before i even met her
when you saved roger outside on the sidewalk from running to the mouths of anxious dogs
when jeanne died in the street two days after she got adopted
when minerva died from pneumonia and i wasn't there to hold her
when i realized how much separate history we shared
when you introduced me to gracie lou, "USE EXTREME CAUTION," but you believed in her and helped me take her home

All these times I loved you.

how every cat's face
every cat's fate
how each question
how your reassurance saved us
how you would never abandon anyone ever
how the last thing you wanted was for anybody to suffer
how we were made to stay in our own buildings and pushed apart, i'm afraid, i'm sorry, forever
how i can't recall our last conversation
how i can't stop listening for your laugh

I don't know what I'm going to do without you. Who will compare leg hair in our cut off jeans in the sweltering summer in the height of kitten season? Who will snort with laughter at my terrible jokes, and whine about our angst for hours after closing time, and giggle "I'll grab your butt" so that I don't litter?
We will never replace you. But we can strive to honor you by smiling at strangers, kissing crusty cats, and treating every creature with kindness.

Monday, April 13, 2015

I don't appreciate being called rude and I don't like being told what to do