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Apologies for my long silence and an update
Dear Readers and Lurkers,

Some of you may perhaps have noticed that I haven't been around much recently, nor have I been updating Justice. I'm dropping in to say hello and to let you all know what's going on with me.

I last posted at the end of January. Around that time I was working away on my Regency novel. I had told myself that I wanted to hit 35,000 words-- the halfway point of the novel-- before I went back to work on fan fiction. My reasoning was that if I don't try to push my original writing projects a little more front and center in that limited area of my life reserved for 'free time', it was just never going to happen. So I set myself a goal. Write 35K and then return to Justice. But then a bunch of other things happened.

I remember the night I hit my 35K goal. It was Friday, February 8th. I stayed up late writing, and closed my computer with a feeling of satisfaction. My plan was to let what I had accomplished on my Regency book percolate by itself for a while and then I would get back to it after I had finished Justice, chapter 28, which was on my slate for that weekend.

Early on the morning of the 9th, Fluffy asked to go out as usual at about 5:30 a.m. At 10:00 a.m., I woke up and called him at the kitchen door while I was waiting for the kettle to boil. I called him several times, but he didn't come. After about half an hour, I realized something must be wrong, and I put my shoes on and went out to look for him. I found him curled up in the long grass in the front yard. He was weak and couldn't seem to get up, but was very pleased to see me. I carried him inside and tried to brush him, as per his schedule, before his meal. But he could barely stand up and he wasn't interested in breakfast. To say I was worried was an understatement. Then he tried to walk toward his cat bed which was under the kitchen table, but he couldn't walk in a straight line and crashed into the garbage bin and fell down. I was already on my computer googling 'cat falling down, what's wrong?'  I was afraid it was a stroke. Fluffy got up and tried to walk more but kept falling down. I quickly woke up my husband to watch him while I called the animal hospital.

Long story short, it wasn't a stroke. It was his heart. His left ventricle wasn't draining properly as the aortic valve was collapsing. His lungs were filling up with fluid.The problem was unfixable. He needed heart surgery, but heart surgery is not an option for cats. My husband and I were in and out of the animal hospital over the next five days. The end inevitably came. It was so hard for us to return home without him, and see his toys, his beds, and his dishes. I was deeply grateful that my husband was there, and that he was as sad about Fluffy's loss as I was. I couldn't imagine how awful it would have been if I had had to return home alone with my grief and been faced with memories of Fluffy in every square foot of my house.

Unfortunately, that week, my work suddenly exploded with new business, and things have not settled down even now. I spent the two weeks following Fluffy's death sobbing as quietly as possible through clenched teeth over my keyboard in my office. I still miss my cat terribly. With only a small amount of concentration, I can feel his weight in my arms, the press of his little 'hands' and feet, soft toe pads with the gentle prickle of his claws underneath. I can feel the tickle of his whiskers, the incredible softness of his fur. I can remember what he smelled like, and the lovely calming vibration that passed from his body to mine when he purred.

I would have spent anything, done anything, to make him well. He was only thirteen (we estimate). I was hoping to get a few more years with him. But we humans mostly outlive our pets, and the sad day of parting always comes.

Fluffy's simple death from a failing heart caught me totally by surprise. He was completely normal even the day before he fell ill. He had been slowing down a bit, but we attributed that to the fact that he was getting older. If there is one thing I have learned from this, it's to take future cats for electrocardiograms and ultrasounds of their hearts annually, starting at about age eight. If a cat has congenital heart disease, there's not much that can be done, but I keep thinking that if I had known about this a couple of years ago, we could have perhaps gotten him on medication. I don't know if it could have prevented the thickening of his heart wall or the collapsing of his aortic valve, but maybe it could have bought him another year or two of life.

I have made considerable reforms to my lifestyle since he died.Regaining and maintaining my health is now a top priority in my life, whereas I took my body for granted before. I eat smaller, healthier meals and have cut back dramatically on sweets and alcohol. For a while there I was trying to go to bed by 10:30 p.m., but now that I work 12 to 14 hours per day, I can't really go to bed at a normal time anymore.

It's really my work schedule more than anything that has led to my being unable to write. Since February, I have become a creature of work, and it's not anything I really have a choice about. I am self-employed, and business is finally rolling in after an extremely iffy year and a half. I have no time for myself at the moment, and it's frustrating for everyone because my family hardly ever sees me anymore. Above all I need sleep. If I do get a bit of free time, I can't concentrate. I remember feeling like this long ago when I worked in Japan. At that time, I worked from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 pm plus commuting time, 28 or 29 days of the month. On my two days off per month, all I could do was drink coffee and stare at the wall while my thoughts rolled along on their own undirected paths.

Today is my birthday and I took the day off work. To get this day off, I had to work fifteen hours yesterday. Unfortunately, I was mentally wired all night and couldn't sleep until five a.m. I kept returning to bed, only to toss and turn and think about my clients. Finally I took a bath at about 4:00 a.m. and got a little bit sleepy. I'm running on about 4 hours of sleep today, the same as yesterday. I was hoping to be able to write a FAKE one-shot, but unfortunately I can't concentrate.

To be clear, I am not going to abandon Justice, or my dream of publishing original  M/M novels. I just don't know what to do right now except try to get through each day as it comes.

Now I know that everything I have written so far has been one long streak of misery, so here's a bit of good news! Since February I have lost 20 lbs, which is a side effect of my new, healthier habits. Also, I got a much-needed pedicure today. We're having a bit of a heat wave here, and I realized I could no longer get away with wearing tights and boots, which meant exposing my pallid legs and scary-looking toenails to the censorious eyes of the world. My legs may still be pallid, but so are everyone else's! My toenails, however, are now a beautiful sparkly light brown shade which will go with everything in my wardrobe. I am about to go and buy myself a new skirt. I need to get out of Starbucks anyway. They're having a half price frappucino promo which means that blenders are constantly grinding up ice cubes at deafening decibel levels, plus the place is packed to the doors like a nightclub. Did I mention we're having a heat wave? I think everyone wants a cold drink for half price. Time to go shopping.

Anyway, I hope you all will continue to check on me from time to time. I still have hopes of things going back to normal. August is usually a slow time in my business, but I'm hoping to get my workflow under better control long before then, even if it means saying no to new business for a while.

Thanks to all the people who sent me PMs and emails and posted birthday wishes on their journals for me!

*Stallianna, as per your request, I enjoyed my Starbucks coffee for you. I had a mocha with extra whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Yum!*

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I'm so sorry for your loss. At a time like this it can be a blessing to be so busy you don't have time to stop. Do what you need to and we'll be here when you're ready.

Unless you're anticipating a slow down if there is a way to hire help so you're not working insane hours you should consider it. Getting enough rest and time away from work are just as important as eating right in taking care of yourself.

Believe it or not, I do have an assistant who comes in three days a week, but a lot of what I do is semi-legal, and I am the one with the specialized knowledge, plus the E & O insurance. It took a really long time to train her in office procedures related to the nature of the business, etc. and when I was training her, I couldn't do my own work. She still has trouble with filing and retrieving information, but she is getting better. Some days though, there is not much for her to do because what needs to be done can only be done by me. I need another me.

Oh Brit, I am so, so sorry. *hugs tightly*

Thank you. * Hugs back* He was my child.

I am so sorry for your loss. I know the feeling. I have three cats and one dog, back in February I had two dogs. She, Boo, passed away on the 27th of that month. She was a Rottweiler and her hips were bad. My stepfather and I were hoping that the Animal Hospital would be able to get her on some medications that would help her walk again. I went to work while he took her to the Hospital because my being there would have done nothing for her. She died at the Hospital, that day. The doctors said she had Spinal Cancer and that a shot had a 50-50 chance of either making her better or she would die. I never got to say goodbye to her. At home, I'm always reminded about her because our other dog, Wolf, now eats out of her dish (which had been bought for both but she always dominated the dish)and I can't help thinking Boo would push him out of the way if she was here.

It's hard losing someone you love regardless if they are human or animal. Always remember the good times and be overly happy about the time you had with Fluffy.

Take care.

I'm sorry your dog died while you were at work. Since February, I've often been grateful that I got to say goodbye to Fluffy. It could have been so much worse. And I did love him consciously and with great appreciation. Nearly every day for the past few years, I thanked God for bringing me such a wonderful cat. I knew what I had and I knew it would end, but I had expected to have a few more years.

Some people in my life don't understand the level of grief that my husband (yes, him too) and I are going through because they think Fluffy was only an animal and it's much worse to lose a human. But I think it is the same. Love is the same. Fluffy was a member of our family and we treated him with great consideration, affection and respect and he understood that. We accepted his animal limitations and didn't value him any the less for that. We loved him and he loved us. I do take comfort from the fact that he had a pretty good life with us.

Thank you for your kind words.

First, happy belated birthday. *huggles* Sorry I wasn't a little quicker on the uptake on that one, but I allow myself to get distracted far too easily.

Secondly, I'm really very sorry to hear about your loss. I completely understand how hard it is. We just lost our two labs within 5 months of each other. And I still can't decide if it's better that it's fast, or if it's better to have time to say good-bye. I'm glad that you and your husband have each other to lean on during the healing process.

Work picking up is a good thing, the accompanying stress and lack of sleep, not so much. Just rest whenever you get a chance, and don't worry about writing, unless you just can't stand not writing anymore. I haven't had a busy spell in a while, but I used to write little drabbles when I felt the urge to write, regardless of the lack of free time. It would take about 15 minutes, and it would make me feel infinitely better.

Take care of yourself, okay? I'm glad to hear of the successful weight loss. Eating healthier does wonders, especially if you can control your portions pretty easily.

Enjoy the weather (though it sounds like it's almost too hot where you are) while it lasts. ^__^

I'm so sorry to hear about your dogs and that you lost both of them within such a short time of each other. I don't know either if it's better that they go fast or you have time to say goodbye. I think it depends on whether they are aware at the end.

In my case, I got a sweet goodbye a few hours before Fluffy died. I held him in my arms for about an hour from 9:00 PM to 10:00 pm, and was able, just for that time, to push my sadness and worry out of my mind and simply let my love for him fill my entire being. It flowed from me into him and from him back to me, and it temporarily revived him. After that hour of in-depth love, he was able to walk on his own to his dish and drink some water and eat a few bites of food (it was my dinner he wanted). We took him to bed with us right after that, but woke up a few hours later to find him in severe respiratory distress, whereupon we drove to the animal hospital for what turned out to be the last time.

I'm grateful I got to say goodbye in my way. The second goodbye, at the animal hospital wasn't as good because he was so traumatized to be in that place, plus he was pretty far gone.

Thank you for the birthday wishes.You weren't late at all, you were right on the day.

I like your idea of the drabbles. I was incapable of anything creative yesterday, but maybe today if I get a bit of time later, I'll try for a 100 word drabble.

Britt, I am so sorry for your loss on your beloved Fluffy. Your story isn't so far from my own elder cat death. I have no clue how old she was, but she was like that extra mommy for me. When me and my mom would play and I screamed from being tickled, she would come to check on me. Her name was Socks for the white socks on her feet (Clinton family stole my name idea for a same colored cat :D). Anyway, a long time ago, we noticed that she had labored breathing so we took her to the vet. He told us she had pneumonia and that her lungs were filling up. He offerd to let us take her home where she could pass away with us but we didn't like that idea. She would just suffocate to death and that was horrible, so we decided to put her down instead. For a time, I wasn't really nice to her when I got older because she drooled (she lived in the streets before I had her) but I still miss her terribly. So yeah, I so know about your plight. At least you knew where your cat was when it was his time. I've also had two cats in thier upper years dissapear, never to be seen again. I have too many heartbreak cat stories now that I think about it. My mom has my last cat and she's in her early teens now and since she's an indoor/outdoor cat, we're not sure how much longer we'll have her. She seems to be fine so far. She's still rambunctious and all so I have my fingers crossed. *huggles*

Yay Starbuck coffee :D. Extra whipped cream and chocolate drizzle really sounds heavenly *stary eyed* Love you lots and don't hesitate to talk to any of us when you need us.

Edited at 2013-05-08 03:32 am (UTC)

It certainly does sound like you've had a lot of heartbreak cat stories. I'm sorry that your two older cats disappeared and you didn't know what happened to them. It would have been awful for me if Fluffy had just disappeared! I wouldn't have known if he was alive or dead and I would still be putting up notices and hoping for a phone call. At least the way it happened I got closure.

Thanks for your kind words of support. Next time I drink one of those mochas, which will probably be this week, I'll think of you!

So sorry to hear about Fluffy :( I hope you get back to normal soon!

Thank you. I have no idea if normal is in my future. I hope so! Today wasn't too bad. I'm only planning to stay at work until about 6 pm. I'm overdue for a trip to the gym.

Hey Brit - it's good to hear from you again. But with all that's going on in your life right now, I can totally understand why you haven't been around here so much lately. Especially that you put your original work before fanfiction. Because you're right, it IS more important. And I will totally buy it once it's finished! :)

Well, on to the sad news - I'm so, so sorry to hear about Fluffy. I'm sobbing with you right now. Literally. But everyone has to go someday, and he had a very good life, thanks to you. May he rest in peace in cat heaven.

Oh, and happy belated birthday, by the way! I hope you enjoyed your day. I even have a little gift for you. It's in the next post because it will probably marked as spam again because of the link. ^^

Thanks, awieatti. I've been getting all teary-eyed reading all these kind comments from fellow cat lovers. Fluffy was just so much a part of me that I feel incomplete now that he's gone. It's been almost three months and I still ache with love for him. I feel strongly that he's nearby, though. There was a night about a month or so ago that I turned out the light and lay down in bed to go to sleep. I was alone because my husband was at work. I lay in the dark feeling sad about Fluffy because he always used to come to bed with me and sleep beside me, literally in my arms. I started talking to him out loud, as if he was there. I told him that although all my memories of him are now in the past tense, my love for him is present tense and that I will always, always love him. At exactly that moment the floor lamp, which is across the room from the bed, flickered on and off by itself. I lay still and said "Fluff?" and the lamp did it again.

Now is that a message or what? My sister said it was probably my mother, who is also on the other side, not the cat, since Fluffy wouldn't have been able to work the light switch. I don't know who it was, but it was someone trying to offer me comfort.

Thanks for being willing to buy my original writing! I hope you still feel that way when I finally, God knows when, get something written and published.

So here's my little present for you:

I hope you like it, and maybe it will even cheer you up a bit. :)

Like it? I totally LOVED it! Thank you so much! I feel honored that you went to that much trouble for me.

I never felt sorry for Dee in that balcony drinking scene because I think he actually chickened out from taking things further with Ryo, despite his bad-boy intentions. There was Ryo allowing Dee to straddle him and participating in the kiss, and gazing limpidly into Dee's eyes and completely ripe for seduction, and what does Dee do? Loses his nerve and drinks himself into a passed-out stupor. If he hadn't done that, they could have gone to bed together that very night!

Hey Britt, Sorry about the loss of your cat, mine died of cancer a few years back so my heart goes out to you, with that being said I hope your birthday was nice, take care and know you are on my mind xo

Thank you so much. I'm sorry your kitty died of cancer; that must have been hard.

My birthday was very quiet. I had been hoping to do some writing, but it tuned out I was just too tired to do much of anything. I did have a nice Caesar salad dinner, though. My husband was stunned that for once I didn't want pizza. Actually my icon is making me ask myself the same question. Why didn't I want pizza?

I'm thinking I should take another shot at celebrating my birthday on the weekend when I have more energy!

Oh, Brit. I knew why'd you taken a moratorium on the story, so I didn't let myself get too worried about your absence, though I missed you greatly. You poor thing, I wish I knew what you'd been going through. It's awful to lose a pet, but take comfort that he did live a pretty good long life (I consider 13 to be pretty old even if you don't), and those years were obviously full of comfort and love. He died peacefully and surrounded by family, which is really just about all we can ever hope for in life, animal or human.

I wish work wasn't so crazy, so you could have time to yourself for healing, but alas we must eat. It is at least a good thing that the thing distracting you from writing is also the thing that keeps a roof over your head and food in the pantry. Hopefully things will abate, and you can return to the laptop to share your stories with the world. And someday, though I know it may hurt to hear, you will get another pet. It's the only cure when we've lost that part of our lives, to give love and affection to another deserving animal who will appreciate it more than anything. Not a replacement, just another lucky pet.

And congrats on the weight loss! I know how much you love your chocolate, so it's a noble sacrifice. You must post before-and-after pictures of yourself after you've had a chance to tan those legs.

Thanks so much, Peacewish. I know that someday I'll get another cat, but I don't know when. Either I will feel ready one day, or some other homeless cat (like Fluffy was) will arrive in my life.

When I mentioned to my husband that someday we would get another cat, he emphatically said no, that losing Fluffy had been too traumatic for him and he never wanted to go through something like that again. That was the first time in his life he had ever deeply loved an animal. So, I think he would have to be ready too in order for us to get another one. But you're right, our next cat will be a lucky pet. Kittens are cute and playful, but I'm specifically interested in adopting an adult cat who was abandoned or otherwise rejected and needs the security of a quiet and loving home.

My pallid legs are back on display today, and I'm wearing a cute pair of heels that are flesh-toned and slightly darker than my skin. They used to hurt my feet when I was twenty pounds heavier, but now that I've taken that weight off, they don't hurt anymore. I wouldn't hold out any hope of seeing pics of my legs looking tanned, though! My legs do not tan. They never did. The rest of me sort of tans, but my legs stay stubbornly fish-belly white. They don't even burn. I think they bounce the sunlight back, or something.

I once had a tan-obsessed boyfriend, who, believe it or not, bought me a tanning bed package because he was sick of being, and I quote, "blinded by the horrifying, glaring whiteness of my skin," and even he was amazed when ten tanning sessions brought my legs up exactly one shade from lily-white to old ivory. Yes, I thought that word 'horrifying' was overkill, too.

Yeah, work is stressful, but the bills keep rolling in, so I have to keep showing up there and plugging away. I remember it was like this when my mom died, too. The very day of her death I found myself caught up in a whirling vortex of relentless work responsibilities which didn't let up for a long time.

Anyway, thanks for your kind and supportive words. I do appreciate you.

Welcome back, Brit! It's great to see you around again. :)

I'm so sorry to hear about Fluffy, though. If it's any help, I at least have an inkling of how you feel (especially this: I would have spent anything, done anything, to make him well. Boy, do I ever know that feeling), since I lost my cat Cassie last summer. Massive, massive hugs to you. I know you were an awesome kitty-mommy and did everything you could for him, and I'm sure he knew that you loved him.

And, wow, all that work stuff on top of everything! Sleep deprivation/overwork can't be helping with the grieving process any, so I'm glad you're finding ways to take care of yourself, like the pedi (I hear ya on the pallid legs problem! Bleh.) and Starbucks. And you already know how much I love Regency romances (I just started getting into Georgette Heyer, btw, on your recommendation - she's fantastic!), so I can't wait to see your novel in print.

Unfortunately, I'm a day too late to wish you a happy birthday, but happy belated birthday! Hope you had a fantabulous day, and I hope this year will be kinder to you than the previous one has been. *big squishy hugs*

Hello, Lunasariel! Sorry I missed so many of your posts. I've been gone from LJ even as a lurker for a long time.

I'm sorry about Cassie-cat. You had her for a long time, didn't you? I didn't realized she had passed on. I remember you were worried about her weight loss and lack of appetite last spring.

Thank you for the massive hugs (*Hugs back*) I need hugs nowadays. I was a very loving kitty-mommy. That's why Fluffy, who was originally my dad's cat, insisted on moving upstairs with me. He wanted a mom.

I think it's easier for us up here on Canada's cool-summer west coast to get away with having pallid legs than your girls in golden California. Here, I am not alone in my pallidity. (LJ does not appreciate my attempt to be creative with vocabulary with the word 'pallidity') But I know if I went to California, everyone would say, "Oh, hey look, a Canadian."

So glad you like Georgette Heyer! I've read all her books at least twice, and some of them three times. I can't say which one is my favorite. There are a lot of them I like. They always made me laugh out loud. Have you read the Toll Gate, or the Grand Sophy?

Now I'm dying to get back to my regency novel. But, really, Justice must come first.

Thank you for the hugs and the support!

Im sorry to hear about your loss, my cat died last month while giving birth to wonderful 5 kittens, i still miss her...
But im happy to hear you are back and more healthier than before

Oh, no, your cat died in childbirth. She must have been young. I'm sad for you. How did you feed the kittens?

Thanks for your well-wishes. It's good to feel healthy in spite of everything else.

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Hi Twiyah,

I don't know how I do it, either. It amazes my husband who sees me get up after four or fewer hours of sleep and disappear off to work until late at night. But then sleep has been my challenge for the last eight years or so. I'm hoping that next year I won't have to work this much. How are you doing?

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Oh my, I'm so sorry for your loss! I know from experience how hard it is when you have to say goodbye to a beloved pet. :( Cats, unfortunately, have the habit of hiding their discomfort and pain very well.

I hope you working scheduled has settled down a bit and you're getting more sleep by now!

Any yay for weight loss!

Thanks. My Fluff hid his difficulties very well. We thought he was slower because he was getting older. He didn't seem unhappy, though. I know he felt loved.

I got some more sleep last week, but this week has been iffy so far. We have a visitor staying with us, so our routine is not the same and I am doing a lot more cooking than usual. But yay for weight loss! The visitor showed up with two boxes of chocolates, which I ate most of, but so far my weight loss is holding.

thanks for telling us update when you can

You're welcome. I just want you to know that I am currently on a program of writing 100 words of Justice every day. If I write a hundred words a day, which isn't much, at least I'm making progress and it is moving forward slowly.

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