Sunday, July 16, 2000.
A couple weeks before Sasha's 9th birthday. It is a beautiful day outside, uncommonly deep blue clear skies, gorgeous sunshine. It is dark and gloomy inside. Since she isn't eating and the kidney failure is so advanced, and hearing of all the options and stories of cats dealing with this problem and the cures on the Internet, we horribly, regrettably decide that in her best interest Sasha will be euthanized tomorrow morning. This is her last 24 hours with us, and the bottom darkness of devastation we feel keeps sinking lower and lower as the hours advance. This day will be devoted to her while she still looks in ok shape, still loves to get petted and accepts gratefully the love and affection we can heap upon her. So many memories come flooding back making it an ungodly struggle to maintain composure for Melissa and I. It seems unthinkable not to have her around the house and in our lives. We will go almost immediately to the Humane Society to find a couple of tiny kittens to fill the horrible void, knowing that won't be possible, but doing so anyway to give a lonely baby cat or two the love it wants and needs, not to mention our own similar needs. Very soon a short picture page will accompany this one as a dedication to Sasha, our first cat. A copy is posted of the beautiful watercolor painting Melissa had contracted with a Lansing, Michigan artist for my surprise 40th birthday party present. No doubt it seems silly to say, but how shall we live without this great big part of our lives contained in such a tiny sweet frame of black and white fur?
Monday, July 17.
Is it a rally? We dare not hope so. But yesterday Sasha ate a few small broken pieces of chow! And then a few more. By this morning before dawn she had eaten 7 more small pieces and 2 larger. It is really not enough to give her the nourishment she needs but it is a fabulous change. So the roller-coaster ride begins. We feel we will still lose her very shortly and are loving her constantly while God graces us with her presence each new day, each new hour. It is so hard to think this presence won't be here soon, but I look at her and pet her knowing soon I won't have this luxury, and then I will long for this day, this time. So I am making the most of it. We can only watch her day by day. She really isn't eating enough to sustain her but we wonder is it a start? Can the one who holds the subatomic particles together grace us with a lot of time left? We ask; we hope; we pray. And we love her one moment at a time.
Wednesday, July 19, 2000.
We seem to think that Sasha is trying to fight this thing. It's almost as if she is telling us "I want to hang around with you guys for a little while longer." So we thought we owed her at least to try and treat this disease and help her fight it. If giving her under-the-skin fluid injections once a day is able to give her a fighting chance we ought to try. We will know, I think, in a couple weeks if it will work. But her first shot was today. She seems to be doing some more cat things after she got home, rubbing her paws, tiger-like, on the furniture; staying out in the open in Melissa's company; so maybe Sasha is grateful we are fighting with her, instead of giving up on her. Only time will tell, but we are guardedly encouraged. We don't want to bury her with grief before her time. I will post here more news shortly to bring up to date anyone who may read this. She may be our miracle cat.
Thursday, July 27, 2000.
We were supposed to get Sasha's blood test updated to see how the toxins are doing in her blood. We were going to go today or tomorrow. Melissa visited the vet yesterday to get another IV bag and needles and ended up talking with him for 40 minutes. He doesn't want to see Sasha, as, based on the information Melissa gave him about Sasha not eating, he can already determine that the IV isn't flushing enough toxins to do enough good. She seems to eat in spurts, hardly eating at all the last couple days, and this morning she ate 9 pieces (they are small pieces of hard chow). But whatever she eats it really isn't enough to sustain her. Melissa thought we'd probably want to put her to sleep on Saturday, and I keep thinking to postpone it as long as she's not in any obvious pain or torment. Of course, since she isn't eating much we need to keep alert to signs of overt starvation. I mean petting her you can feel her pelvic bones and ribs. But I am hoping she'll make it through this weekend then Monday we can say goodbye. But who knows, it's a day by day watch. And of course it's hard on us too, especially on Melissa who is with her all day long every day. But when I placed 5 pieces in front of her after getting up this morning, one by one, she did eat them. And she was purring up a storm. It's hard to think about putting her to sleep like this. Last night I brought her out on the back patio where she likes to roll around on the hot concrete pad and try to sneak eating some grass. But she really enjoys getting outside and smell, hear, watch nature as it rolls by. She also likes it when she's indoors and I open a window enough to let her lay in it to witness a little of the outdoors, too. It is still nice to watch her enjoy some things. But then later this morning she spit up some yellow bile-like stuff. Will she now just stop eating all together? Or will she eat enough to keep going for a number of days? What a time!
Thursday, August 3, 2000.
We have seen some amazing ups and downs in Sasha's energy level and eating. Saturday, July 29th she had a tremble, a shiver, like she was cold. We agonized if she was going to go into seizure and no doctor was going to be available the next day Sunday to put her out of her misery! We prayed feverishly that night. If I put my hand on her as she lay resting I could feel a shiver as if she was too cold. We did turn the air conditioning up from 76 to 78 and sometimes higher, thinking and hoping it was only the temperature that was causing it. Going to bed Saturday night I fully expected the worst come Sunday morning. But when we woke, she seemed fine. She ate a little bit and we saw no more trembles that day. In fact her eating improved and it shocked us. On Saturday she ate only 9 pieces of chow all day. And these pieces are small, about 3/16" in diameter. During the night of Saturday and Sunday we woke to find she ate 8 pieces and by 5 PM had eaten 16 more! Monday morning dawned and Sasha had eaten 31 pieces by 6 AM and a total of almost 60 by the end of the day! Her appetite has definitely improved. She's still skin and bones but she is getting nourishment. And the subcutaneous fluid treatment we are giving her seems to be keeping her hydrated. She doesn't drink from her water dish these days but the 300ml of Lactated Ringers from the IV seems to be enough for her.
So an upswing has occurred; for how long we have no idea, but we are grateful to God for the added days. So, again, from going through a weekend where we thought that on the following Monday or Tuesday we'd have to take her to the vet to be put to sleep, to the big turn around is simply amazing. And on Tuesday to see her jumping around and running like she used to was a wonder to behold! I said before the roller coaster ride was underway and it is for sure! We continue to take it a day at a time but appreciate each new day with her.
I should briefly discuss the "sub-Q" treatment we give Sasha once each day. Around 6 or 7 PM every day Sasha is given about 300 milliliters of Lactated Ringers, the same solution used in hospitals to hydrate patients. Melissa "operates" while I hold Sasha down. Actually it isn't at all that bad. We purchase a 1000-ML bag from the vet for $10 and are given four 18-gage needles. Melissa warms up the bag in the microwave for a minute or so to get the fluid about Sasha's body temperature. We don't want to shock her with chilly liquid under her skin! After warming the solution we hang it up and Melissa attaches the needle. After opening the line to insure liquid flow, it is stopped and Melissa picks up some skin from Sasha's back. Sasha is lying on a blanket on our dryer, and as she's mostly skin and bones now, it isn't too much trouble to pick up some skin and pierce her with the needle. Once the needle is in and Sasha yelps once or twice, the worst is over and Sasha is calm for the duration. We have to hold her down for the 10 or 15 minutes the 300 ML runs into her as she can get bored and want to jump down. But all in all it goes very well and trouble free and Sasha tolerates it quietly. It is a bit strange to put her back on the floor after it's over and watch her waddle away with a large pouch on one side jiggling as she walks. But it doesn't bother her and she seems not to notice.
Wednesday, August 16, 2000.
We are exactly 4 weeks into the sub-Q treatment and Sasha is still hanging on. She has her good days and she has some bad spells. Mostly she seems comfortable and has an appetite. She eats about 70 or 80 pieces of her chow a day. Sometimes in the afternoons or evenings she kind of crashes, not having much energy and crawling into a dark quiet area and resting. Plus the worrisome thing is the shivers she gets sometimes at night. Whether she's cold or she is having some type of small seizure we aren't sure. We get alarmed and think the time is near and in the morning she is up and around and eats some chow, purring all the time, with no shivering. Strange. She threw up yesterday; it was the yellow bile-looking liquid. Not food. But then, later she seems to recover and looks good. We just wonder about it all and keep going day to day.
Friday, August 18, 2000.
The trembling/shaking that we have been feeling occasionally in Sasha is apparently not due to any warning of seizures, as we had feared. We also thought it might possibly be due to her being cold since she's mostly skin and bones. So we called the vet today to see if he could tell us anything about this. He has not heard of anything like this due to a seizure; the seizure that could come because of her body giving out on her would be in the brain, which would be sudden and very ugly. It wouldn't happen slowly like it was building up. So that is a relief. He suspects it is a temperature thing. We've turned up the thermostat to bring the A/C from 76° up to 77° or 78°, and the tremble is intermittent, so that's good news. It still is irksome that she doesn't drink any water, but as desert animals that isn't quite as important as eating and the sub-Q fluids are giving her some water. But she still is purring and still enjoys affection so she sure doesn't seem ready to go.
I gave blood at work this week and I asked the guy who drained the pint from me about methods of inserting the needle. Like is there a best way, hole up or down or sideways? I told him why I raised the question and he mentioned he went through the same thing a while ago with his cat. His didn't last the 4 weeks Sasha has been fighting and when it was time to put his cat to sleep it was obvious because of the behavior of the animal. So that was encouraging since so far Sasha is telling us she wants to stay around for a while (by God's grace) and is not exhibiting such signs that indicate an imminent demise. Sure she's still skin and bones though you can only really notice it if you pet her; from once a healthy 10 or 11 pounds to now around 7, there's just no fat on her at all. But she still is eating enough to keep her going. Sometimes she looks like she knows she feels bad and she thinks it stinks, and later she'll jump up on the back of the sofa. But it makes us wonder how long she'll go on. She did today throw up a bit of food and also some white-ish foamy liquid, which she has done in the past. But she got over it after resting for a while. She does that up and down thing more and more. Melissa says that her down spells are followed by shorter periods of time when she's more alert. So we just really can't quite figure this out. When it looks like she's feeling her worst she'll come out from the dark place and look pretty chipper. Weird! The Lord is keeping her going and we think it may last a while longer yet.
Thursday, August 24, 2000.
Since Sasha has been doing well with the Sub-Q treatments the vet suggested we help her red blood cell production by giving her Epogen injections. (See this Internet page about Procrit for a discussion.) Wondering why this wasn't mentioned a few weeks ago, we agreed that it was worth the expense (about $17 per injection) to give her a better chance of helping her kidneys filter more toxins and help her gain weight. We will bring her in twice a week for four weeks. Today was the second shot. She has gained .4 pounds since Monday's injection, going from 7.2 lbs to 7.6. A small though encouraging development. She has taken well to the shots so far, though Tuesday night we had quite a fright.
The first injection was Monday about 5:30 pm. She seemed to be doing quite well, even bouncing around on the coffee table and the back of the sofa and chair. And then around 10 pm she got real wobbly, and we discovered she hated being touched anywhere from the middle of her back rearward. She would stand petting around the head and shoulders but when you touched her anywhere past the middle of her back she'd moan in that weird mysterious kind of way. It was pretty spooky! Then after we gave her a bit of attention and soothing strokes she wanted no attention whatsoever and moaned when we indicated we'd touch her. We were mystified, wondering if we did something really bad in the afternoon's sub-Q treatment, or if there was some reaction from the Epogen. I opted for the latter but we had really no idea what was making her so miserable so very suddenly! It was so strange to go one minute from feeling pretty good to the next of outright fright! It was my bedtime so I felt we should just leave her by herself and wait to see what happened in the morning. We'd been through things like this before that mysteriously came and went for seemingly no reason, and I thought the same might occur. So when I woke up in the morning, sure enough, she seemed to be just fine! Who can explain the ways of a kitten? It's the roller coaster ride; what fun. But she is doing, presently, pretty well and we'll continue the injections and see if she keeps gaining weight and feeling more spunky. Tonight she did have her first fit during the sub-Q treatment and we only got 200 ml in her before she scrambled away. We don't know what caused that fit, maybe two needles in one day was a bit too much for her? I don't know. But we'll have to be better tomorrow, she still needs the 300 ml of fluids.
Though as I wrap up this update report Melissa says Sasha is acting strange again. Sasha did just go by and went under the bed not wanting any attention from anyone. She did cry out when she was touched on her back just a minute ago by Melissa in the other room, though when I just reached under the bed and petted her a few times Sasha made no sound, just moved out of range of my hand. So something is bothering her, though I suspect it is maybe a normal reaction to the Epogen. I'll bet tomorrow she'll be just fine! We'll see.
Friday, August 25, 2000
As suspected, I found out at 1:00 am, when Sasha came in for her nightly attempt to wake me up to pet her at her food dish, that she recovered and was feeling ok. I did get up with her to give her some moral support since she felt terrible a few hours ago. And then quickly went back to bed. She's back to feeling fine--for the moment. But tonight is the second night in a row that she has rebelled against the sub-Q. This time after getting 200 ml "downloaded" she rebelled and we had to stop, since she was going to be flying off the top of the dryer, where we do the operation. Last night she got half of the 300 ml. We sure hope that rebellion doesn't continue. We'll all be in big trouble!
Friday, September 1, 2000.
We are closing on week two of the Epogen treatment, two more to go. It seems to be helping Sasha feel better. She weighed 8 pounds yesterday, so that's encouraging. She is still rebelling at the fluid treatments, though the last couple days we've been able to get most or all of the 300 ml in her. Wednesday she struggled to get away after a couple hundred and got to a standing then sitting-upright position with the line sticking out of her. But she didn't want to just stay there like that, she wanted to get down! So after 200 or 250 ml we stopped it. The next day we decided to keep everything quiet--the house, our voices--to see if a more calming presence helped, an had moved the treatment center out of the washroom to the kitchen counter. Even though it was dangerously close to the sink where she hates to get a bath, the different surroundings with more to distract the eye I think has helped. So, the night before we got all the way through with no problem; last night she got antsy but we made it to 300 ml. We'll see how it continues. But there have been no more bizarre episodes to scare us, no more freaking out for a few hours, sensitive to petting, hiding in dark out of the way places. She only tries that now when it's time to get her evening fluids or every Monday and Thursday 5:30pm departure to the vet for the Epogen shot. That she senses is coming and tries her best to be "unavailable." She has found some creative hiding places but so far she hasn't missed an appointment.
Sunday, September 17, 2000.
Yesterday brought to a conclusion the 4 weeks of Epogen shots intended to help Sasha's red blood cell production, and 8 weeks since we discovered her kidney failure. It must have helped as she is behaving like she did before this started.
She was a terror at the vet, though. We have taken to transporting her the two times a week for the shots by holding her in my arms and not using a pet carrier. She gets so traumatized by just getting in the car, plus the fact that she's going to the vet, it is a great strain on her, and I can feel her heart beat wildly! The strain is minimized somewhat I feel by not stuffing her into a carrier, and then dumping her out of it when we get there. And then stuffing her back into it when we have to leave. And each of those times she is resisting with every ounce of strength. So Melissa drives and I hold her like a baby. This has worked out lots better, and we just listen to her mew all the way there, thought the ride home is usually quiet. However on two occasions upon leaving the vet she has latched on to my arm in a fit that stating "I hope this shows you I don't ever want to come back here again!" I calmly (like it's really something that should be accompanied by a calm request from me) ask that she stop that and let go of my forearm (a few inches above the wrist). After a few frantic seconds of death grip she did let go, both times. But both times leaving deep fang impressions, one of those times the blood flowed a little too much, and I got some on her coat. (Two weeks later I can still feel the bumps on my arm.) I know she doesn't mean it. Heck, after all, she is an animal! After we get on the road home (about a three minute drive) she does calm down. And after we get home she is back to her normal sweet self. I know most cats don't have such fits in going to the vet; Sasha just has a very sensitive and fragile heart. I don't hold it against her. And I don't punish her for something that's a bit beyond her control. It isn't behavior that becomes habit.
And yesterday she was pretty calm as we waited in an unordinarily busy vet office (they were down to one doctor) even with some other animals there in their carriers. But when we took her in to get the shot she just didn't want to cooperate at all. The doctor did get the shot into her but Sasha got a bit wild, flailing around trying to get out of my clenches (the attendants don't even bother to try to deal with her, and I prefer to be the one that holds on to her). She did get a quick nip on my finger but it didn't get any penetration. After we left she was calmed down again, and it can be the last visit for a while. The vet doesn't want to take blood samples to see where her red cell production is. That would take sedating her because she wouldn't put up with the procedure. I'm kind of relieved though. I don't want to see some one else try to get her under control to sedate her and draw the blood. I couldn't trust them no to mistreat her by handling a wild-acting animal. The vet is just convinced that since she's feeling well the treatment was successful. The daily sub-Q treatments will be for the rest of her life; something I didn't want to consider, but that's the way it goes.
She has been taking the sub-Q treatments without rebelling, thank God! We hope that continues considering the on going nature of the treatment. She still doesn't want to drink water, no matter how insistently I try to persuade her. She just doesn't want to drink. The cost of this will be severely minimized by a deal with the vet. The cost on line for the fluid is cheaper than we currently pay the vet but the tubing and needles would make the savings less of an advantage. Mentioning this to the vet he struck a deal to sell us a case of 12 liter packs for $45. This is far better than our current $10 each pack and better than on-line at $15 for 4 packs.
So, now it's a matter of just continuing on. We won't be taking any away-from-home vacations for a long time I fear. I can't see traumatizing her by sending her away for some stranger to take her to the vet for sub-Q treatments. But she's feeling very well, has taken again to snuggle at night or early morning for affection, has made some new vocalizations which sound fun, is still enjoying foot petting at her food dish or while we're eating breakfast coming and crashing at our feet for petting by foot. And she's back to jumping on the furniture and spending a little more time with us wherever we happened to be. So we are happy with how she's feeling. Now if only the miracle of actually healing her kidneys would occur. That would be the icing! But she's come very far considering what we were thinking back on July 16th. We are grateful for that!
Wednesday, October 11, 2000.
I thought I'd jot a quick update even though not much has changed since the last one. Sasha is still acting great, and spunky, and still has her slow moments when she's probably a little too toxic and her breath smells a bit too toxic. She does continue on occasion to throw up a clear foamy liquid probably just indicating she really is a sick little girl and that the toxins do build up a bit in her system. But she's still a sweet cat with the heart of a kitten, and has resumed her habit of spending a little time in bed next to me on some nights, and also of sweetly asking for the remaining milk in my cereal bowl when I'm finished at breakfast. I give her the teaspoon or three that is left, of course. And she isn't rebelling from the daily sub-Q treatments we give her, that little episode has vanished, thankfully. I have heard from a friend in whom I've confided our routine and he told me about his experience with his CRF (chronic renal failure) cat. His lasted for 6 months after diagnosis and he went through the sub-Q treatment routine too. We aren't near the 6 month mark at all yet, but we know each cat is different. And we love the days that Sasha remains with us, not taking them for granted. They may not continue for very long but it is still a joy to see her run around the house, roll on the floor when cooking smells waft from the kitchen, lay at our feet and dig her head, neck and ears into our feet while purring loudly as a unique form of petting. She is a unique cat. It has been a blast owning her.
Tuesday, October 17, 2000.
Things may have turned, Sasha has not been feeling well the last few days. She had been throwing up the yellowish liquid a number of times in the last 7 days, and now she spends more time hiding away where its dark and close and quiet. She sometimes does her small mew, an obvious cry of discomfort. Then a short time later she'll come out and eat and get petted. The swings between feeling poorly and looking and feeling ok, are more often. She is demure when getting her fluid treatment, but it is looking like the toxins are building up in her system more. I don't think there's much we can do but try to make her as comfortable as possible. She does accept our love and affection when she doesn't burrow so deeply under the bed. It's sad to see her in such distress and discomfort these days. We don't know if this means she is on a last downward spiral and we don't have a lot of time left with her. But we'll pay close attention to her each day.
Thursday, October 26, 2000.
It doesn't look good. Sasha hasn't eaten all day. Nor touched her water. She threw up the foamy, sticky bile stuff again this morning around 5 am, and again tonight around 7:30 pm. This is about the third or fourth day for that. But now she's not eating and she's not active at all. She just wants to be in a quiet and dark place. Melissa says that she did come out for a while after she got home at 1 this afternoon and enjoyed some time in the sun in a window. But by the time I got home at 5:15 this evening she was back in the closet under some clothes. She doesn't appear to be in any distress just to look at her, she will accept petting and she'll purr with the attention, but she is slow to move, and is getting weaker and thinner. Will she last the weekend? We don't know. The downward spiral has definitely gained inertia. When this happened before we had the options of treatment. But we've gone through them. She is on her own now, and it's very sad. These days indeed may be the final ones. We have thought that before and have been proven wrong, but now the treatments have gone through their paces and even the daily sub-Q fluid doesn't seem to be doing much good to flush the toxins her kidneys are allowing into her system. Her throwing up is now her defense against toxin build-up. And she won't eat because of it. We are keeping a close eye on her. We don't know what else to do.
Friday, October 27, 2000.
I don't want to cry "wolf" but Sasha has taken a turn for the worse. She'd right now under the bed in the dark, mewing distressfully every now and then. She has less energy than yesterday even. Still does not eat. Though Melissa did make some chicken to see if that could entice her to eat. Melissa also thought that maybe the vet could think of something to do for her. He suggested a prescription of Cyproheptadine (4mg tablets) to stimulate her appetite. We did get 1 tablet down her this evening and should give her a half tablet twice daily. And after that she did have a few tiny pieces of chicken. But she doesn't look good. She looks very listless, her head shakes a tiny bit but it doesn't stop for long. She walks unsteadily. She went to her litter box and circled around in it a few times, cried, and then lay down in it. Fortunately it was mostly clean. We lifted her out and she cried at the movement. She didn't do much after that except to move to a blanket, and then shortly came out to the edge of the living room. And now she's under the bed, crying every now and then. She may not last the weekend, and maybe we'll have to take her to the vet tomorrow. I certainly don't want her to start suffering a great deal. We'll see. It's been a couple hours and she has come out from under the bed and is now laying in the middle of the bathroom rug. At least she came out. Maybe her system is dealing with the meds. She would cry every now and then, a mournful "dough" sounding cry of discomfort. Will she continue like this, will she level off for a few hours? We'll see, hour by hour.
Saturday, October 28, 2000.
We surrendered Sasha to our Lord this morning. We saw that she wasn't going to be eating again, and hadn't since Wednesday evening. She had been throwing up the last few days as her body couldn't process the toxins her kidneys failed to filter. Last night she kept on laying in her litter box, probably because she had a need to go and couldn't. After we went to bed Sasha did come out of her litter box and lay down in our bedroom. After trying a couple of locations she went back under the bed. She cried once during the night, a meow of distress, more a moan than meow. We had given her a pill we got from the vet to try to stimulate her appetite but maybe that made her feel worse last night. We still did give her the 300ml treatment of fluids. Later, when it seemed clear she couldn't for some reason relieve herself we worriedly wondered if we did more harm.
At 6:30 this morning she jumped up on the bed and sat facing me, like she's done hundreds of times before over the course of her life. She lay down beside me and I petted her. Only this time, unlike all the others, she didn't purr. And she didn't lick my hand. But she wasn't going to go anywhere. She stayed there and at 8:45 am when I got up, didn't move to get up and go to her food dish. She really wasn't going to be eating. We knew, even last night, this would be her last day. She was so sweet to come out from underneath the bed and lay down beside me one last time. At 9:30 we were at the vet. By 10:15 it was finished.
Melissa wrote about this in an email to my family:
"This morning we said good-bye to Sasha for the last time. She was so uncomfortable and toxic last night we decided to do the last thing we could for her . . . let her go quickly and peacefully without lingering and being miserable.
"The time at the vet was brief but devastatingly sad. She was sedated before the final injection and became completely still and unresponsive and looked totally out of it. But when the vet came into the room with an electric razor to trim a patch of fur from her leg (in which to insert the needle) she had a mild reaction of pulling away, and moaning. True to her past, she fought the vet with her last ounce of strength. Once the vet found a vein (several tortuous attempts) and completed the injection, she went very quickly. And so now she is gone from us, our sweet kitty, who last Saturday bravely tried to play and stalk birds in the very window where I'm sitting now.
"I'm so glad we took the time and effort to extend her life by another 3 months. It was a short but very bittersweet time while she had even more attention and affection then usual lavished upon her. Once we got her stabilized in early August, she felt good, ate lots, and was her old self, and on some days we tried to convince ourselves this would continue for months and years. We appreciated her even more than before, and we were thankful for little things like running out of cat food. I especially appreciated God's grace and thanked Him for each time I sat close by petting her, watching her heartily eat and purr.
"The vet placed her inside a small box which we brought home. Before it was sealed she was wrapped in a clean, old and soft sheet. Inside we placed a small bouquet of grass (her very favorite thing), tied up with a rubber band (always a great Sasha play toy) and a small, feathery toy she used to bat around. John dug a deep whole at the south end of the back yard and we finished burying her just a little while ago."
There is on occasion a wave of physical shock that is painful that washes over me and surprises me. And there is a huge hole in our hearts that even time will only slowly fill. Nine years of memories come easy and hard. The quietness in the house is deafening. The beauty of the clear rich blue skies outside shout in contradiction to the awful dark clouds in our heart this morning. We will go out and look for a couple of kittens, brother and sister maybe. But it won't be the same. No doubt it shouldn't be. It will only be different. But it should be new and fresh, and it will furnish an outlet to share love and care on a little creature that needs it.