“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


They're Not Immortal Anymore

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Until recently, I believed my pets were immortal. Of course, in the back of my mind I knew that they had a finite number of days to spend with me and the Geek, but I pushed the ugly thought always to that place in the very darkest back corner of my mind, relegated it to a quiet place where it couldn't bother me too much.

About a year ago, the ugly thing managed to sneak out of its chains when YoYo's seizures got significantly worse. My husband reminded me that there was a possibility his finite days were coming to an end and I had to prepare myself for that possibility. But upon visiting the vet, we found out something our previous vet hadn't told us. He has epilepsy and it is possible to manage it with a simple pill.

So, the ugly thing got shoved back in its place, since, after all, a simple visit to the vet would heal whatever ills might attack my sweet pets.

On Friday I noticed that Diva was acting like she didn't feel well. Her meow had been funny for about a week or so, but I figured she just had a kitty cold or a dry throat. No big deal. But when she laid in the same place for an entire day, and didn't even move to escape the dog or get excited when we petted her, I knew something was wrong. But not to worry, the vet can heal all, right? I packed her up in her crate and we made a visit to the vet.

They acted concerned, but they always act concerned, so I didn't worry. They suggested blood tests and an x-ray to determine what was wrong. Sure it was a little spendy, but that was okay. It was the only way to find out the problem and then we could get on with fixing it. I had no doubt Diva would be back to normal again in no time.

The test results showed that there was something very wrong with her liver. I took her home so the Geek and I could decide what step we wanted to take next. More tests were available, but which ones should we have them do and how much could we spend?

That's when the Geek asked me. "Did they mention sleep?"

Sleep? As in "putting her to"? No! Of course they didn't mention that. Why would they do that? It hadn't even crossed my mind as a possibility. There was surely no reason for it. We would do a few more tests and they would find the problem and then it would be solved. End of story.

But the other tests came out negative, which left only one possibility. The problem was more serious than we were able to deal with. Sure, they could do exploratory surgery, but chances were that it was cancer and whether it was or not, the problem was not likely to be curable.

Sleep. It suddenly became a possibility. And as my sweet Diva looked mournfully up at me, purring contentedly despite the fact that her poor little body was wasting away (she was a big cat, but was losing weight quickly), I knew that it was more than a possibility. It was the only choice left to us.

On Monday, I came home from work, wrapped her in a blanket, and gently carried her to the couch where she laid in my lap until my Geek got home from work. I petted her and talked to her, told her I was sorry she was hurting, but promised it would be better soon.

I couldn't go with them. I just couldn't. He was so sweet to take her to the vet himself, and I know it was hard for him too. When he came home with a cardboard box and the blanket he had carried her in, I couldn't look inside. I didn't want to see her that way. I wanted to remember her sweetly purring in my lap.

He dug a grave out in the yard and I went out with him while he placed her in it and filled it in. I'll plant a rosebush there this spring, when the weather is warm enough. Something pretty, needy, sweet, a little dainty, and a little bold, just like Diva.

The ugly thing is no longer relegated to the back of my mind. It has taken up residence in a more prominent place now. If it can steal Diva away, it can steal the rest. And of course, it will eventually. I'll enjoy as many years with them as I can, but the fact remains. They're not immortal anymore.