I have a friend--a good one, I think, although most of our friendship is via text--who is dearly in love with an aging Goddess of a cat. I have at various times begged him wherein the time comes for this animal to move on to the cat dimension wherein she conquers small worlds, that he should inform me before he posts it on InstaGram or FB.
I have become attached to this animal, and I'll need a moment to compose myself.
We all know this--even when we know it's coming, it's going to hurt.
My older daughter's cat is one of these relationships.
This cat was older when Chicken adopted her--five years? Six years? Ten? -- and hugely fat. At her peak, Peanut Butter (originally Mrs. Poopy Butthole) weighed in at 28 pounds. Chicken, being a good cat mom, got the cat down to 22, and for the last year has been mortgaging her soul to keep the cat on diabetes medication.
This cat is definitely eleven years old now, if not older, and in the last two weeks she's stopped eating.
Chicken brought her to the vets, thinking, "I've done this with pets before. I had to say goodbye to Gordie because Mom brought him in on death's door. I had to say goodbye to Chiquita. I know how to do this."
Oh baby. Nobody knows how to do this.
Her kidneys have stopped working, and the vet is going to give her subcutaneous fluid to see if they can jump start that, and at least make her more comfortable, but Chicken has a budget, and the amount of money it would take to bring this cat back from the brink of death would buy her a better car than she has now.
She's seen me make these decisions.
She watched me pick Disneyland over a $3000 operation that may (or may not!) have helped one cat lived an extra three years. He died two years after Disneyland, and we were pretty sure we'd done the right thing.
She was there when I picked her and her brother up and took them both to say goodbye to another cat after I found him half-dead in my bathroom because he hated me so much he wanted to make sure I suffered.
What I did not tell her then--but she figured out on her own--was that even though I knew that cat was not going to live, even though it would have been much more cost effective to let the poor thing just close his eyes and depart without the trip to the vets and the long goodbye, was that I brought him to the vets for her and her siblings.
I wanted them to have a chance to say goodbye.
We both know how this is going to end. She's going to run herself ragged taking the cat back and forth to the vets for a shot of subcutaneous fluid to help her feel better and to jumpstart her kidneys even though they are currently in no condition to function.
And then, when it's all over, she is going to say goodbye.
So today sucked. I was going to try to get a haircut today, going to dye my hair. Hell, I was going to eat breakfast and take a shower.
But my day exploded and my kid's life exploded and we spent the whole morning/afternoon trying to help her deal with what we know is coming.
In the middle of the day, though, I got a picture from my stepmom. My folks recently (as in, October? November?) lost their dog, Max--and he was such a part of the family that whenever I visited my parents, my dogs would run and look for Max, long after he was gone. We all miss Max.
But that picture my stepmom sent me was of a golden lab/pibble (possibly) mix, with the goofiest expression on his face.
The caption was, "His name is Goose."
And the picture made our day better. It wasn't going to take away the heartbreak, really, but it was definitely going to remind us of the joy. Pet ownership is all the things. It's a willingness to risk that beating organ in your chest for something smaller and more vulnerable than yourself, and to pin your happiness on this creature even though you know that someday, through no fault of its own, it will probably break your heart.
But in the meantime, it will also lick your feet or knead your hair, or wake you up in the middle of the night because you are absolutely, RIGHT NOW, needed to give it scritches on the ass. It will stick it's tongue so far up your nose you're pretty sure it tasted your eyeball, and make you taste whatever it had for breakfast. It will roll in deer poop, barf in your shoes, or delicately claw your foot for no other reason than you walked by.
And this furry creature, this vulnerable little soul, will love you when you're pretty sure not another soul in the world ever could. It will lick your tears and still think you are the best person, the very best person, and there's not another person in the world who could replace you.
It will make you more welcome in your own home than you thought you could ever be, even in your own heart.
And that's why we take weeks like this one.
That's what you get when you fall in love.