Transitions at Casa Holmes and Saying Goodbye 7.5.14 / by Emily Holmes

I'm facing the realization that I will be putting my cat Jables down next week, and it's killing me.

Many of you may remember the post I wrote after his initial diagnosis. The vet expected only a few weeks. Jables muscled through that and more. It's been four months since that vet visit and for a while, he was doing OK. We opted for quality of life approach and have been trying to dedicate our time to being loving and present with him while he is here. Sadly, he's not a happy cat anymore. His back paw/leg is entirely lame. He has trouble getting around and has been sequestering in different places. He's still very loving in the times that he chooses to be near us, which makes the decision even more difficult.

No one wants to make the decision too early. I called his vet. I talked to another to get a second opinion about his behaviors. They both agreed that the time was dependent on me, but that he didn't seem to be in a good place. I don't want my little guy to suffer just so I can keep him around longer for me. I'm wracked with guilt and sadness and grief. I've had the misfortune to say goodbye to friends and lovers far before their time, but nothing prepared me for this wave of emotions over a pet.

I suppose if you accept a cat or dog or other animal into your life and heart as part of your family, it makes total sense. This is my friend of over 12 years who has lived with me through nine homes, two coasts, several cross country trips in a car, and many years sleeping at my feet. I remember him at different points in my life crawling up to my face while sleeping and petting my cheeks softly face to face. Both jarring and so intimate, he stared up at me with his big gumball eyes and slowly talked to me with eyes instead of words. Crazy, maybe?!? But I think all animals at our basest level are able to do this, and humans are no different than cats or dogs in that way. He is beautiful and loving, but he was also a son of a bitch at times. Biting me when I didn't get up to feed him on his schedule. Hissing at me when he didn't like my immediate reaction. Fighting with his smaller sister Cage with claws drawn. Yes, it hasn't all been roses, but with the end in sight, I see the complexity of love that we shared. I don't look forward to the week ahead. I am saying my goodbyes...

And while that is a lot in and of itself, my life has become extra full of late. I'm performing live again, in a more deliberate and frequent way. Beyond playing in new rooms, I've found I'm meeting more and more people who I am connecting with through music. Some are new collaborators. Some are audience members who connected to my songs. Some are musicians I've met and written with in the TopTune shows in Los Angeles. I've been lucky to hear some amazing performers. I've been challenged to write at my "game" level both for artistic pursuits and for fun (once again, Top Tune...). In each interaction, I sense that I'm regaining my strengths as a writer and performer that have laid dormant for the last 2 years as I raised my daughter from infancy. It feels good to reclaim my shoes and to grow in ways that are going beyond what I could do before. It's part of this "transition" that I've written about in the past.

As far as other transitions are concerned, Riley is growing into her "big girl" self. Beyond stringing sentences together and making past-present-future associations in conversation, she's also tackled the big task of potty training. While every day is an adventure, she's really good with it. We're cheating a bit by having her sleep in Pull Ups instead of going cold turkey on diapers completely, but she has really taken to the "big girl" stuff and seems genuinely happy to be achieving it. We also switched her car seat around so she now sits in the big girl "special seat" position. She starts preschool part time in the fall and that too is a HUGE transition, for both of us. She'll be taking her first steps into having time away from Mama among other kids her age, and I'll be regaining more time to do work or to do nothing at all. It's daunting too. I know I'll be a big blubbering mess once I walk out of the school on her first day, but it's also a step we both must take in the acceptance of growing older. She will get more and more independent from here onward and I want to be a parent who accepts that she's going to take those steps and eventually leave altogether.

Then, my hub Brad has made a huge career transition to real estate. He's become a full-time agent and while that is incredibly exciting, it comes with a burden of the new. He's doing well with clients and the adjustment of a new schedule has made us healthier as a family, but there is the unknowing of how a new business will fare. When you're in business for yourself, it varies all the time. It's a different mindset and it takes a skill set that you figure out over time on how much do you work, when do you rest, how to do you continue to grow and thrive. All very daunting stuff. I know I've stalled out with it more than a few times with music, so I am trying to be as supportive as I can be.

With time comes change. With change comes happiness and sadness. Growth is never easy, but it gives you opportunities to look at yourself and see where you've been and perhaps where you're heading. The middle is the fragile time. I'm in the middle now. Wish me well...