For the past three weeks my husband has been working out of state. I knew it would be difficult to take care of our home and our animals by myself while also working full-time and commuting two hours a day, but I also knew I could do it. It just meant giving up (for a finite period) most of my own personal time, and particularly my writing time, to accommodate the added responsibilities that my husband and I normally divide. In addition to all of this extra work, I’ve been pet-sitting for one of my husband’s labmates who was going on the same trip. I probably shouldn’t have said I could do it, because I knew I would be pretty overwhelmed as it was, but I wanted to help our friend and his two cats.
I wish I could say the pet-sitting went well, but pretty much the worst thing that could happen, actually happened. Just a few days after my husband and his lab left for their trip, one of the two cats I was pet-sitting became incredibly sick. I walked into the apartment and found the poor thing panting in pain and dragging her hind legs. I knew she was dying, but I had no idea what to do. My instinct was to take her to the vet where I was positive they would counsel euthanasia, but I couldn’t do that without first contacting my friend. He hadn’t left any instructions about what to do in that situation. It took several hours, but eventually I got a hold of him and he made the appointment for that afternoon. I left work early and raced back to get the cat to the vet. They took one look at her and said she was dying and there was nothing they could do. The owner was called, tearful permission was granted, and the cat was put to sleep.
It was awful. After returning that sad empty cat-carrier to my friend’s apartment, I went back home to my own pets. And instead of being sweet and loving with them, I found myself getting super annoyed. One of my cats wouldn’t stop smelling my hand. Maybe he smelt death. I yelled at him and pushed him away. Then I yelled at my dog for wanting to play, which is what puppies generally want to do. I was wrung out, I guess. It was just totally draining and upsetting to have to bring someone else’s loved animal to the vet to be put to sleep. But it was even harder to watch the cat struggle in pain.
Then, the next evening, this happened.
I was outside weeding the garden when I heard a little thunder in the distance. When you’re gardening, you’re very focused on the soil, so I had no idea until then that a storm was approaching. And then I saw these fingers of clouds reaching down. I’ve grown up on the East Coast for most of my life. I’ve never seen a cloud move vertically or twist like this one was doing. It seemed incredibly close. In no time at all, it was reaching down over the woods that surround our house. I ran inside and threw my dog and cats into our bathroom, because they don’t build houses with basements in North Carolina for some reason. I ran back outside and saw the funnel cloud, pictured above, twisting right over the field in front of our house. Those woods that are behind it make up one of the borders of our property. So the funnel cloud was literally in my front yard, just hanging there, hovering. It seemed almost alive and cognizant of where it was and what it was doing. Full of intention. I know that’s silly, but that’s what it looked like. It reminded me of this old Disney cartoon:
I took a picture, because I’m a millennial idiot, and ran back inside into the bathroom with my very confused animals. My little grey cat, Hans, took one look at the rest of us (me, his brother, Bunbun, and the dog, Ham), and was like, “Nope!” He opened the cabinet beneath the sink and slipped inside. The cabinet door closed behind him and he stayed there for the rest of the storm.
It started pouring rain. The wind, oddly, for a storm that was moving so fast right over my house didn’t seem that bad. I mean, it was blowing hard for sure, but not what I was expecting for a storm with so much rotation. I kept waiting for that “train” sound my mother always told me a tornado makes. In fact, when I called and told her this story, the very first thing she asked was, “Did it sound like a train?" It didn't. Now I’m wondering if this train sound is just part of my mother’s lore. Readers, can anyone who’s ever heard a tornado confirm or deny whether it sounds like a train?
The storm passed over us in ten minutes. It stopped raining and the cicadas started buzzing again en masse. It was like the funnel cloud had never been there. I don’t think it ever touched down, thank goodness, but it was still very frightening for me. I let the animals out and then I went back out to the garden to finish my work.
So do you see what I mean? Draining, right? Normal life is hard enough, especially when you’re all alone. But when you add events like these it can feel like everything is on the edge of out of control.
I’m just glad my husband is coming home. So glad. I’ll get my writing time back, for one thing, and a little more help with the dog walks and the gardening. And of course, I missed my husband’s company. The first thing we’re going to do (he doesn’t know this yet) is get a beer at Mystery Brewing in Hillsboro, NC. That’s been my goal these last three weeks. I’d tell myself I could make it. I’ve gotten past all these animal troubles and all those trash hauls to the dump; past the non-weather related power outages, and the weeds that never stopped growing, all in anticipation of the future reward of beer and BBQ with T.