dr potter called at 10:19, two seconds before the door to oliver's classroom opened to let a stream of egg-cited (i said it) children out to stand on tiptoes reaching for easter baskets high up on cubbie shelves.
i let it go to voicemail. i didn't want to get bad news standing in the hall on a happy day.
i called back as soon as i got home. 11:10. she was in back to back sonograms. i left a message. i thought the person taking the message had seemed too polite in response. like she new what lay ahead for me.
i spent the day looking for common ground with death and existentialism. i spent hours trying to come to terms... looking for peace... remembering the conversation i just happened to have had with oliver yesterday in the car on the way home from school when i described death to him as an exciting adventure.
i felt like i was going to throw up.
hunger eventually pulled ahead of preparatory grief and i ate leftover cashew korma. and then i felt even more like i might throw up. especially if she called back right then.
i hoped she would call when violet was eating. then, i hoped she would call while violet was sleeping.
i called again at 2:00. it would be at least another hour. i imagined dr potter's sonogram arm must be getting tired. would she remember which cat was ttyki under that pile of sonogrammed animals?
i hoped she would call while i was in my car on the way to michael's and not while i was in michael's. i put two wooden goose eggs, possibly streaked with mold, into my purse and got back in the car. a black man walking through the parking lot had sidled up to me. he was tall, thin, older. had a sparkling earring and a suit, i believe. didn't look right at me at all. said he went to see his friend at tom thumb and it turned out his friend didn't work at tom thumb. there was something about a bus, maybe, i know there was something about three dollars. i told him i don't carry cash... just my card, you know. i wished him good luck as i buckled violet in. he continued mumbling something as he drifted away from me and toward his next target.
i drove around as long as i could, hoping to keep a balance between violet staying quiet and the vet calling while i wasn't in the school. eventually, i knew her calling right then wouldn't allow me enough time to have a conversation and get oliver by 3:30.
i went in.
oliver came out with a very large book he had made about birds. he had drawn each and every of the bird cards and bound the pages with red yarn. i imagine the holes had been punched in segments, it was so thick.
we gathered his 17 plastic easter eggs in his turquoise metal pail and carried them precariously to the car where they mostly tumbled out all over the back floorboards and seat.
there was no call.
i arrived home and finally. finally. the phone rang. my phone is old, by modern standards. three years, at least. it frequently likes to tell me false things about my SIM card and Smart Chip. it likes to force me to reboot it. after two rings, it blocked the vet's call. i frantically dialed back and waited for her to leave me a message so they could connect me. i begged oliver to stay busy at the dinner table sorting the contents of his eggs.
i bowed my head down and rested my forehead on my palm so i could get back to the place where i was accepting of death and loss. 18 years old. with me my whole adult life. my best friend through three failed relationships and one still going. there through pregnancies and births and asshole cats. she ruled the house where the yellow lab lived. she fought long and hard. she would let me cuddle with her at night, against my belly. for awhile, before moving to my legs. she tolerated me bringing in oskar, her new best friend. lately, i've been waking to find her lying, light as a feather, on my chest. legs folded under. face inches from mine. i increasingly wondered if she was saying goodbye.
dr potter started off talking about her intestines, which surprised me a little. i mean, she's pretty much always had "IBS" and resulting constipation. she told me about the thickened patches and how they could be IBS or enteritis. or an intestinal lymphoma. you can't tell without a biopsy. or guesswork. she veered farther from cancer when i mentioned the weight loss began five years ago. the beauty of letting something worrisome go for a long time on its own is that you can be pretty sure it's not cancer. but that only works if it's not, you know, cancer.
she said her pancreas is totally healthy. that's good. she has a raging urinary tract infection from all the sugar her body's dumping.
dr potter is planning to start her on the insulin even slower than dr debender. only one daily dose of half a unit instead of two. it's a human medication, so the hardest part is measuring out such a small amount. brian will be in charge of all things needle. there will be a blood monitoring device this time.
that cat. she is one tough broad. i think she's saying the same thing oliver did yesterday, "i think i'm just going to live forever."