I know this much is true: I love my cats. And I am afraid of death.
Recently, our veterinarian noticed something during our little girl's routine annual exam. One series of bloodwork later, and we had a diagnosis: hyperthyroidism, common in older cats and manageable with daily medication.
Even with a manageable plan for her care, I was still in a crazy funk for a couple of days, my mind rooting about in memories 6 months old, of a time that was THEN and is not NOW, but which has more power than I expected after this many weeks. I'd like to say that after putting pen to paper and giving words to the funk I was feeling, everything was fine. But that is not my truth. Truth is, it took several more days for the grief to work back out of me again. It took seeing my little girl respond well to her daily pill, regain energy I'd thought long lost to age. Truth is, these words honor, but do not heal.
Our home is shrouded and silent as I let myself in.
Fear rises a hairball in my throat
On the first step, my legs heavy and resistant, all the way to the top of the stair
I find her tucked away in the darkness against the nightstand and release enough breath to call her name lightly
The relief when she moves weakly to my voice brings a tinge of shame; I should not feel this way, I think.
As I cup her soft velvet ears, she purrs to me of things I cannot understand - the raising of kittens, the love of an animal for her human
But she turns her head from the food I have prepared, warmed and softened with water heated until it is warm against the skin of my wrist, as if for an infant
We do this dance, me offering, she escaping, several times a day now
And if I insist, she will move her wracked, riddled body into another corner, expending energy she cannot spare
Waiting for the end that finally comes at the tip of a hypodermic needle, and the sleep we call the end.