When I headed to bed shortly before midnight last night, I never expected that I would be starting the new day in the emergency pet hospital. On the way up I said goodnight to Patches, the calico who has called our place home for the last five years since we took her in as a stray. Usually she spends the evening sitting on my lap, but I hadn’t seen her in a few hours.
She was sitting on a chair in an upstairs bedroom. I took one look at her and could tell something was wrong. Her pupils were dilated and she was breathing fast. Then she let out a howl. There were no obvious signs of injury, but it seemed clear that she was in pain and didn’t want to be touched or moved.
Louise said she would go with me to Dove Lewis, the local emergency pet hospital. We put Patches in a carrier and made the 10-minute trip in silence – except for the occasional doleful yowl from the carrier.
The parking lot was empty when we arrived. Louise carefully lifted the carrier out of the car and in we went.
The receptionist had a tech come out to talk with us and we told her what was going on with Patches. Then she asked us to take a seat and wait till the doctor was ready to see her. Just as we sat down, a young woman in pajamas came in lugging a small carrier. She went up to the counter and spoke quietly with the receptionist. I heard fragments of the conversation: “It’ll all need to be paid tonight… is there anyone you can call?” I saw the woman shake her head.
The receptionist gave the young woman some paperwork and told her to fill it out. I heard her explaining that it was an application for a line of credit. The woman’s boyfriend was there, too. He sat with his arm around her while she tearfully filled out the papers.
After she had finished, the woman handed the papers to the receptionist and came over to peek at Patches. “What’s the matter with her?” she asked. I told her and she nodded understandingly. “She sure is cute.” She said her cat’s eye was bloody and she didn’t know what had happened.
The door behind the counter opened and a tech poked her head out. “Who has Karma?” she asked. The young woman jumped up and said, “That’s me.” She picked up her carrier and disappeared into the back. I nudged Louise and cocked my head toward my wallet where you could just see the corner of a hundred poking out. She nodded. “Definitely.”
We got called back next and the vet checked Patches out. He didn’t see any signs of trauma but agreed that something serious could be going on. While they worked on her, we sat and waited in the lobby.
Pretty soon the woman came back into the waiting area. Her eyes were puffy and red. Then she was back at the counter and I couldn’t help but overhear. “The exam is $100 because it’s after midnight. And this is an idea of what the other charges might be.” She came to sit down near me and I said I had something I wanted to pass on to her. “Sure,” she said, looking me in the eye. She looked so young but had an air of self-reliance that seemed beyond her years.
I offered a few more words of explanation and pressed the bill into her hand. She looked at it and the tears started to flow. “Oh! I can’t take this! Oh, no! You can’t do this!” Then she wrapped her arms around my neck and sobbed.
We just sat for a while and she kept reaching over to hug me. She thanked me over and over. She asked my name, and said hers was Autumn. I gave her a card with the blog URL and she wrote “Jill” on it, then tucked it in her purse. “You’re going to be in my purse forever!” she said. Or did she say I would be in her prayers forever? I’m really not sure.
“What’s your story?” I asked gently. She smiled. “My story, hmmm.” She told me that she’d been adopted at a young age into a wonderful family. A few years ago she decided she wanted to make it on her own. “How old are you?” I asked her. “Nineteen. Well, almost twenty.”
She said she always tried to do the right thing and still seemed to really struggle. It was hard to tell if trying to be a good person even mattered sometimes. She showed us a picture of Karma as a kitten a couple of years ago and then she asked Louise to take a picture of us together. She hugged me again and whispered in my ear, “I hope nothing bad ever happens to you, ever.”
Around 2:00 Karma was brought out. They gave Autumn some eye medicine to take home. As we said goodbye, she said, “Oh, I’ll be in touch. I can’t wait to check out the blog. I can’t wait!”
I hope Karma is feeling better. Patches is still under the weather but she had a few bites of food this afternoon so I am hopeful that she will come around. I know she might not, though. Sad things happen even when we do our best to be good people. But there’s nothing else we can do.
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