The Thing About Things
by Steppen Sawicki
We were finishing up a pyometra surgery on a cat. If you’d rather not look up pyometra, it’s a fancy term for pus in the uterus. Now we did save the life of this cat, and that’s something I have to keep reminding myself of, because a very sick dog came in right at the end. All thought of the worst part of my day being getting anal gland secrete on my hand was gone. He took his last breath right at the moment the doctor walked in the room, and despite emergency treatment he didn’t make it. As the woman cried Jesus Help Me and the man tried his damnedest to hold in his tears I thought I might cry too. But I didn’t. It didn’t come out until I was driving home late and dared to listen to Amanda Palmer.
She sings about losing a ring (which she stole) that belonged to her grandfather (he was dead anyway), and it reminded me of the camo army shirt that had once belonged to my father, and which I lost about a month after finding it in a closet. And I started sobbing. Both for the dog we couldn’t save and for a long-gone shirt. And Amanda went on about how things start meaning things they never meant and I thought maybe I was replacing memories I didn’t have of my father with this shirt, and yet how easily and quickly I lost it. Just a thing, but gone now, just like my father and just like that little dog.
I have no point to end this all with. It’s just something I had to type out. We saved a cat, I have to repeat. We saved a cat. We saved a cat. We saved a cat.
“because the thing about things
is that they can start meaning things
nobody actually said
and if you’re not allowed
to love people alive
then you learn how to love people dead”