Ready for the End of November

In the six years that I have been with my partner, Sabrina, we have noticed an unfortunate pattern: disaster seems to strike during the month of November.

Or at least in that vicinity. It started our first year together, when I lost my father to lymphoma on Oct. 30. The first week of November all eight of my siblings and their families came to stay at my parents’ home, while we prepared for the funeral together. It was a time of incredible pain, because my father was in many ways the glue that held all of us together.

Shortly after the funeral, Sabrina was scheduled to go on a working cruise trip with her friend Jacqua – Jacqua gives informational talks on board ship, Sabrina acts as her technical support person, and they travel at no cost. They generally go on at least one trip each year.

Right before their departure, our rescue greyhound Mocha attacked one of our cats, nearly killing him. Ziggy went in for emergency surgery, and then came home to be tended by me, since Sabrina was leaving. While she was away, his condition worsened, and I had to make the decision to have him put down. So there I was, barely two weeks after holding my father’s hand while he took his last breath, holding one of our pets in my arms until his body went limp.

Since that time, it seems as if many of the hard things wait for that time of year, when it’s cold and the days are short. We have had pet emergencies, crises with friends, difficulties at work, all coming up around this time.

So now this year, we started early with the parrot scare on Oct. 23, when Barney fell off his cage and chipped off the end of his beak, ending with an emergency late-night trip to the vet. Then Sabrina left on another cruise, and our dog Houla had the lens luxation eye crisis, which ended in having the eye removed last week. The same night that I was rushing Houla to the hospital at UC Davis, a close friend called to tell me that her father had died.

Sabrina returned home on Monday, and I took a deep breath of relief. It felt like things were getting back to normal. We’d make it through. Then this afternoon, as we were brewing a fresh pot of coffee,we heard a loud thump and a screech. We ran into the living room, where Barney was sprawled on the floor with his left leg held at an awkward angle. We both thought he had broken it. Again, the adrenaline rush – again, on a Saturday, when there are no bird vets on call. Again, November!

As luck would have it, it appears that the fall was simply painful, and the damage more akin to hitting the funny bone than breaking anything, because Barney seems to have recovered and has been acting normally for the last several hours.

But – enough already! Sabrina turned to me and said, “I’m done with November.”

I’m sure there’s nothing to this, really. When you look for patterns, you can see them anywhere. We have a houseful of furred and feathered children; somebody’s always getting into mischief, and accidents do happen. And having eight brothers and sisters, plus untold nieces, nephews, aunts, cousins, etc. – the odds are pretty good that something will go wrong somewhere almost every month.

I am not, though, immune to superstition. Right now, I am crossing my fingers that we get through the last two days of November in one piece.

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