Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Living, Breathing Californium 252

I considered calling this post "Don't Be Sad It's Over, Be Glad It Happened At All," but I'm not yet in a place to embrace that bordering-on-trite statement.

Now that Honey Bunny can no longer check any box under "gender" and create mini Honey Bunnys, she is eligible to find her "forever home."  Back in October, when she was unadoptable because her weight precluded spaying, I took her under the auspices of "foster to adopt." (Ha, you can spay the pet, but you can't stop the caretaker from using the now-irrelevant pronouns!)  However, over the past 3.5 months, just as it became clear how dear she is to me, it became clear that I shouldn't adopt her.

I could adopt her, but I shouldn't adopt her.  A pet is an anchor, and as much as I am anchored here in Bloomington and grad school, I am not anchored nearly enough in personality and interests to maintain a pet.  Evidence?  I was three days into dreaming about putting together an 8 week trip a la Let's Go to Eastern Africa this summer before I realized that having Honey Bunny wouldn't allow it.  I was arranging to take her with me to hotels for overnight swim meets this spring.

I am comfortable admitting that I don't want her forever, but I am not comfortable with what I might be condemning her to.  Life with me wasn't perfect, but it was more than decent and who knows where she'll end up and what conditions she'll be in.  What comes to mind when I let myself imagine the possibilities of the rest of her life is a gut shot.

Anyway, she went back to the shelter on Friday.

I was already having trouble keeping it together in the shelter and then I did a horrible thing.  I stuck my hand into her cage to pet her one last time and she pushed her head under my fingers to be scratched, with so much trust.  The adorable and pitiful look on her face as she tilted and reached up to meet me, unaware that I had broken that trust, will always be my last memory of her.  Then I fucking lost it and had to sprint out of there and sob in my car (and now I'm crying in a coffee shop as I write this.  Hello, neighbor working on French homework.   Your subjunctive conjugations are just that wrong.).

Another shot to the heart is the relief I feel in my schedule because I no longer worry "I've been in the office for 14 hours, so she's been in her cage staring at the wall for that long."  Just like I now feel guilty about maybe condemning her to worse life without me, I always felt guilty about condemning her to a less-perfect-than-I-could-really-provide life when she was with me.  I just traded one guilt for a different one.  I broke her trust and feel better (in some ways) for having done it.

She weighed 2.5 lbs and had an emotional impact far outside her weight class.  Like a living, breathing Californium 252, which at $27 million per gram is the most expensive substance in existence.  I have to believe - because it's the only thing keeping me sane - that this selfish decision and the emotional expense and the guilt that I didn't protect something that needed my protection is worth the flexibility and freedom that I retain.

I also have to believe that the shelter will find her another good home.  But I will always question whether I should have been less selfish and given her my home forever.

To throw another log on the fire of loss, I also decided to take out my tongue ring on Friday.  14 years seemed like long enough (which incidentally makes my tongue piercing older than the majority of the kids that I currently swim with).

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