I've been a bit lax on posting text lately, letting cute or timely or thought provoking videos speak for me. But I think that part of me is tired from lack of sleep (I don't have trouble sleeping, I just have trouble getting to bed early) and know of a study that shows that people who sleep less than 5 hours a night have a higher risk of heart attack. During the week, I get up at 4:30am (5 if I push the snooze 3 times), leave the house at 6am (or 6:15 if I am late) and don't get back home til 7pm at the earliest.
I have the cats to attend to and converse with, then there's the computer and blogging and correspondence (which leads to work avoidance, but that's an issue I'd rather avoid) and if I get to bed by midnight, I consider it not too late. So my days off consist of sleeping in, therefore shortening my waking hours by 1/3, leaving less time for work (which I am obviously not doing now).
And as these days approaching Valentines Day, my birthday and Mike's passing will always be the most difficult for me, my "where you comin' from" space is a little melancholy right now too. I keep thinking back to thoughts of my new blogging friends and the losses and growth they are experiencing and some of my thoughts right after Mike died. And while my family and close friends know how those first months were for me, as I was sending out weekly emails, most of my blogging friends just know what's on my profile.
As Cynthia said, in talking about the murder of her mother, people often wonder of the circumstances but are reluctant to probe or ask or even bring it up. And I can remember a friend (who is a therapist and also has two of my Furrydance cats) saying how journals are good in many ways but one of them is to read later and realize how you are doing, say 1 month or 1 year later. So today I pulled out my email journals and thought that I would post that first email I sent out to friends a few days after Mike died. I tell people, well you either survive or you don't. That short quip doesn't tell of the many, many ups and downs that survival entails, but it does tell you I am still here, still quipping...
Hope springs eternal
To all my circle of loving family and friends,
For some of you, this will be the first time you have heard of Mikes passing. I know I can feel in your hearts the tug and loss that I am feeling.
For others, from the moment you learned of my loss, you have sent your sympathies and your remembrances and offered of yourselves to give and to help carry me through this, the most difficult time in my life.
On Thursday, I picked Mike up at the train station and had a car load of supplies I had bought for the cat hospital I work at. I had made him wait in the blustery cold for half an hour as my shopping took longer and the traffic was heavy. “Car pooling” to work was one of our little pleasures each day in spite of the commute. Mike would drive and I would nap. On the days I got off work before he did, he often had to wait for me to pick him up due to my shopping excursions, whether it was for work or my own pleasure.
We went back to the cat hospital to drop things off, and pick up one of our cats that was there, and he helped unload the car and went back out to park it. He never came back in to get me, and I just assumed he was listening to some story on NPR that he couldn't pull himself away from...that or playing solitaire while I finished up inside.
After 10-15 minutes, I headed out to the car and found Mike collapsed next to it, in between 2 cars, hidden from anyone's sight. I knew he was gone, but ran inside and 911 was called, and a physician from a nearby office in our complex came immediately and the ambulance was there in less than 2 minutes too. But it was too late, they kept trying all the way to the hospital, but we had lost him. He had not been ill, had no known heart problems, was good about going to the doctors.
My mother flew out that evening from Oregon. I had a lot of trouble even getting a hold of my mom, as she travels a lot, so had made calls to my siblings also and they tracked her down. She got off the phone and booked a flight! How tough that was on her, to know I was here, 3000 miles away and having to endure the wait and flight and getting to me without falling apart herself. My boss came to the hospital and then home with me for my first night without Mike, and she also went to the airport to pick up my mom and bring her home to me. She canceled all her appointments for the following day so she could be there to help me.
I am devastated and I am frightened and I do not have the hope for the future I had when I was with Mike. But what I do have is the most wide, the most special, the most needed circle of people who are there for me. I cannot let them down, I cannot let my cats down, and I want to be there for all of you too.
Mike was a union negotiator in Washington DC and already some of his coworkers have been to visit and will be back today to help me wade through all the papers and legal things. They have contacts and people who can help me when they can't. I have a friend (all the people who have our cats are friends and I am lucky for that) who lives nearby that has a large home, and a huge basement that she has offered to me if and when I need to move our cats. Our friends in the cat fancy (as the hobby Mike and I shared is called) have offered everything from cat food, to hiring housecleaners and yard guys to take the load off me.
Everyone is amazing and I am so grateful for the outpouring of remembrances and love for Mike. Everyone knows, everyone could see what Mike and I shared. To go on without him, I can right now only see today, the future is too painful to contemplate.
I will call upon our friends, you can depend on that. There will be nights I am afraid and can't sleep. There will be worries about money and bills and responsibilities I might not be able to handle. I was single and poor once, and may be single and poor once again, and the only comfort in that is knowing I have also been blissfully happy and without Mike, that would never have been.
We will soon make plans for a gathering to celebrate Mike’s life and as soon as I know when and where, I will let you all know. We will probably have two celebrations, one at Mike’s place of work, National Treasury Employees Union Washington DC, and another to share with our cat fancy friends, maybe at the next show held at a hotel, when I am able to get back out there to a show again.
I am not sure if I will be able to afford to stay put, if I can continue Furry Dance Cattery, but I am going to try to at least do that for now. It is the cats that are keeping me busy and the responsibility for them is a commitment that both Mike and I shared, and I cannot let him down, he knew it was a love of mine too.
I am going to neuter one of our stud boys, and spay one of my older girls and have people waiting for them. I have two elderly cats I got back from homes, that I have made the decision to euthanize as they both have behavioral and health problems I cannot ask another to take on.
That will bring the cattery down to 7 cats, and then I can see if I can handle that and keep on going with what Furry Dance started 18 years ago.
I would like to share excerpts from some of the emails I have received, which while making me cry, also comfort me and know the special things I saw in Mike, other saw and cherished too. I will gather them and share them when we all gather to honor Mike’s life. I have received many lovely bouquets and wreaths...many which I have had to put out of sight of the cats, who began nibbling on them. Mike would appreciate, and the cats tummies too, in lieu of flowers, a donation in his name to Best Friends Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah and Cornish Rex Friends Rescue, a nationwide group.
Thank you all, I need you more than you know! Please keep in touch with me, write or call anytime. I need to feel your presence.
Mike was such a sweet guy, would do anything for you and the consummate teaser!
What a wonderful man who loved his Cornish and all others that were in their care.
He was a good egg and soul. They are the type that you just enjoy their company and especially Mike's sense of humor. One thing I always admired about Mike and Teri is the fact you could tell they truly loved one another by the way they smile at one another and the fact they would always hold hands while walking.... it was really a great thing to see! Always a giving person who never spoke a bad word about anybody. He is a person that the world needs.
I can't imagine losing someone as sweet and supportive as Mike ... my heart goes out to Teri. There has never been a time when he hasn't put everything into being a great person and a wonderful cat friend.
Watching Mike walk Disco on his leash to and from the agility courses or wrapped up in a wild patterned blanket to head to the judging rings will always be the happiest images I'll have of him.
Mike was always a prominent figure at the shows, towering over everyone and guffawing at his own jokes. He was always a helpful hand and a strong shoulder when you needed a friend or a worker bee. Mike's enthusiasm for all mutant cats, quick with a cocktail to celebrate just 'being,' and always ready to learn something new just added to what made him incredibly special.
I met Teri and Mike Thorsteinson during that incredibly special 2004-2005 premiership campaign season. That premiership season was so utterly special and somehow different because of people like Mike and Teri. Mike and Teri (and Nacho) were
huge rays of sunshine in every showhall they entered - both Teri and Mike were always friendly, kind and supportive, and their caring for each other and for the cats was so very apparent. Every one of the people we campaigned with that season is etched in my heart, and there is a very special place for Mike - and for Teri. The party they threw for the premiership folks at the Annual in 2005 was pretty amazing. Teri, (((((hugs))))) to you, how privileged you have been to have shared life with Mike. And Mike, Godspeed, say hello to our furry friends who went on before us when you get there...
I just spoke with Teri. Her Mother is with her and I know she will appreciate all your thoughts and prayers. This was so sudden and it is still hard to comprehend. I have known Mike and Teri for over a year now, having adopted my precious Furlinghetti from them. I just know that MIke is in heaven using his angel feathers to play with all the kitties that we have loved and lost. I know he will be taking care of our little angels over the Rainbow Bridge.
You said it so perfectly. Mike (and Teri) was a ray of sunshine in the showhalls and always a joy to be around. He made showing FUN and never had a bad word to say about anything or anyone. Mike always had a way to bring a smile to your face no matter if you wanted to smile or not.
Mike was a wonderful person full of life and laughter, he will be missed... my heart goes out to Teri and the family ...the first time i met Mike he was with Disco...boy did those two guys have fun at the shows...Disco is just as much as a ham as was Mike !!!!...he will be missed...god bless
I met Teri and Mike at my very first show. They saw me looking confused and both helped me out and made me feel comfortable. They always left me a little refreshing beverage surprise on my show cage and always went out of their way to be genuinely nice and say hi.
Mike will certainly be missed and I wish Teri comfort in this awful time.