Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Ballad of Corny Wallace

Let's begin this post with some small moment of positivity, because it's about to heavily rain shit straight after.

A good thing is that I have packed up half of my flat. I am operating what I'm calling a 'skeleton kitchen', which is actually not a kitchen catering to skeletons or the like, but a very pared down version of my glorious previous kitchen stock. All food must be eaten, all utensils packed away.

'I'm helping pack!'

And so now, with three and a half weeks to go until my aliya date, the heavens have opened and the bump I encountered last week has become a massive extended shit storm.

It's a whole new level; I can take tenants leading me on and letting me down. My beloved dog, who I personally hand-reared, suddenly and shockingly dying? It still hurts awfully, but at least I'm wading through it.

No, the straw which has finally broken this highly resilient camel's back is a broken promise of far more epic proportions.

When making aliya, I think it's necessary, as in life, to prepare for the worst at all junctures. To this end, I could potentially deal with it if my flat wasn't rented out.

As I've mentioned earlier, my cat, Corny Wallace, was due to be rehomed by a local family. They made a massive fuss about coming to visit him every week, schlepping along their child to meet him too. On her last visit, she declared him her 'best friend'. Corny, for his part, also seemed to be ok with her.

'I'm one sexy kitty'

So I was especially disgusted when I received a text - yes, A TEXT - from the father, saying they decided they wouldn't take Corny after all.

I'm leaving in 3 and a half weeks. Regardless of the emotional aspect (more of which in a minute), logistically this is a nightmare. I should have put Corny on the waiting list for the shelters in the area, but 2 months ago when I called up I was either told they were full or I was put off by a very blunt woman from Cat Chat ( a cat advice and rehoming charity), that most of these shelters kill the older cats. I quote her, 'He's old. He'll be for it. They'll find something wrong with him and he won't last very long.'

Did I mention I had already begun sniffling, my voice breaking when I started the phone call? This exclamation didn't really help. She then began quoting statistics and places I could google to back up her claims.

I know some people don't understand the attachment that we form to our pets. But here's the thing: as my dogs' vet told me when I asked him for advice, 'two pets gone in two months? You're brave.'

What I'm feeling isn't stress. I've moved house before, I've emigrated (at least for a year or two) before; if I have to get rid of more of my stuff to accommodate the packing allowance, so be it.

No, I am absolutely distraught, for several reasons.

Corny has had a strange and interesting life so far. He was raised in a family of 5 other cats by an ex-colleague of mine who, after 5ish years, suddenly decided that she had 'too many cats', and that Corny specifically had to go.

Cue me. I'd just moved to a new flat. I was having a horrible time at work. I was missing the dogs terribly and, going from a big, noisy family house to a silent one bed flat was pretty...terrifying.

So, with no prior knowledge of how to deal with cats, in came Corny.

'I arrived here in a bag. A Primark bag!'
We got on absolutely swimmingly. He is (and always will be) very loving, snuggly and purry, often all at the same time. The little guy's on my lap now, as I type, purring away. He was there for me, snuggling and mewing, during the bad times, or when I got home from work, and more of the same when I woke up. He sits on my lap for most meals (bad habit but, dammit, he's just so cute).

'Is this a bug I see before me?'

The real turning point in our relationship was when, during Succot, Corny became ill and spent the festival in hospital with a critical UTI. Something must have spooked him (gd knows what), and I'd walk up to meet him during my time off school for the festival and feed him.

At the time, in September, I thought I'd be making aliya in December. Seeing Corny all hooked up to machines, with a catheter in and a cone around his neck, I was distraught.

You see, I hadn't realised before, but Corny, despite being a generally amazing companion, has taught me so much about myself. I didn't know I was capable of taking care of and being wholly responsible for another living thing. I didn't know I could love anything that much, or feel anywhere near as awful as I did when he got ill. In other words, Corny helped me to become an adult.

I also feel guilty. At the time I took him in I was honestly trying to forget about making aliya, as it was plainly inconvenient, a childish folly. I tried to make a go of it here. I bought a flat. I took in Corny. I was receiving tempting job offers. I really thought I'd be giving him a home for life.

But...well, you know the story. Israel beckons. I've tried to bring him with but, as the ulpan won't allow pets, and the vet advises against it, I have no option.

But however bad a person I might be (as one troll on an internet advice forum decided to label me, multiple times and in various increasingly disgusting posts), I don't think Corny deserves this. Yes, he has a ridiculous name, but it's a part of his fluffy charm.

Maybe this is another test. Every week, when I light the candles to welcome in Shabbat I add my own prayer - for Israel, for family and friends etc...I've asked G-d so many times over the past 4 years to lead me and guide me. Finally, for once, I feel like I'm doing the right thing. But it's heartbreaking when these things happen. Seemingly all in one go. I hope it's the final test.

But still. A text message?

Did we just get dumped by text?

'This is my seat now. I'm feigning sleep so you get the picture.'

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