Our cat, Henning.
The cat my husband took months to choose out of hundreds of LA kittens almost ten years ago.
The cat who has been spending a decade talking to me in the mornings, headbutting the bottom of our cups as we drink, chewing on our computers as we type, staring at us from other rooms like a waiting child…
The cat who has shown us unconditional love in a way most don’t even believe cats can do.
That cat is dying.
Henning was diagnosed with lymphoma. He is too far for chemo. We have him on steroids and he is likely to last with us a few more weeks.
Steroids are an amazing thing. They rapidly improve the pet’s quality of life. Our only reminder of his remaining days is a hardened lump the size of my thumb on the side of his neck.
My husband and I have altered course. We have cancelled trips. We have been very selfish with our time. We are spending nights in the living room because since the diagnosis, Henning for some reason avoids the bedroom and stays on the coffee table.
I wake up at 2 in the morning and I will walk out to the living room to see that Henning has moved from coffee table to chaise lounge and snuggled onto my husband’s lap. That is every night.
At around 4am, John moves to the bed and I take the next shift, napping next to the coffee table and petting Henning until I leave for work at 7.
All this time, we talk about Henning. We reminisce. We medicate our much lighter, but still quite feisty feline.
Sometimes, when I’m alone with my thoughts, I think about this ticking clock. I wonder what I would do if this prognosis was given to a friend. one of my parents, my husband or myself. What would I change in my day to day life? How would my fear, so minimal here with a pet but so massive when it comes to the mortality of other humans, affect how I cherished each moment? Would I be so present? Would I allow myself the time?
I don’t know. I have no idea. But I ask these questions as if they are hypothetical, not inevitable. And I am terrified of the day the question is a question to ask *right now*. I avoid thinking about all the times in my life the question wasn’t even allowed and death took a loved one suddenly. I don’t like death. I can only accept it fully when it is a notion. But when it sits in front of me, showing me I have no control over it, I know nothing. I know nothing about it. I know nothing about myself.
So I guess that’s where I start.