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Future echoes of emptiness

This week Julie is in Las Vegas on business (yeah right, what happens in Vegas…) and I’m here playing solo daddy with both boys and all the pets, save Oreo who I opted to have boarded for the time that Julie is gone. Oreo is still hanging on, though we’ve been administering IV fluids and vitamins twice a day for several months now, she seems to be stable but not getting any better. Her hunger is up, her activity is up, but she’s tied to the IV bag, and I just couldn’t find the space or energy to handle that aspect of care along with everything else I need to handle. Julie can do it, but she’s a wonder chick and I hate needles bad enough as it is, I don’t think I have the fortitude right now to repeatedly stick a tiny animal with a sharp metal pointy thing. I’m just getting off this gawdawful sickness (did I praise the merits of Zithromax enough?!) and I just… well I just don’t want to do it.
So, there you go. We dropped the kitty off this morning, and tonight in my moving through the motions, I’ve been noticing all these little rituals that have integrated into my life that I am not needing to do. I am usually the one to feed Oreo, but… she’s not here. She usually bugs me and lets me know she’s hungry, and I give her a pill pocket treat full of her thyroid and indigestion meds, and a half-can of wet food (special kidney-friendly kind), and I clean her cat box… all that, just missing from my evening. And it hits me — soon, I won’t be doing all those things, but permanently.
Julie and I are at differing stages and opinions around Oreo and her continuing life, the time and the expense involved with keeping her in stasis, and up until now I’ve really been of the mind that I’m ready for her to pass on. I see how thin she is, and how little energy and strength she has in comparison to ‘the old days’. She nearly falls over every time I reach out and try to pet her, and she can’t jump up on anything anymore. She’s quite literally a wraith of what she used to be. And yet, there’s still that Oreo spark in there, and she’s still happy to see her family, and she still enjoys eating (and purrs when she gets her food)… so, it doesn’t seem like she’s done yet. And so, yeah… we’re just spending hundreds of dollars a month to keep her in this state.
But tonight, I think I got a taste of the tangible loss that will be coming when she finally checks out and leaves us the bill. Even this thin existence she has right now gives me some sort of value, if not just the completion of a learned habitual behavior, a rounding out of my evening. The brief company she gives is still company. I do love that little kitty. In fact, my affection for her runs deeper than that I have for either of the other animals in the house. I love Tomo and Maxi, but Oreo is definitely my kitty girlfriend, and that old gal is so frail now… it breaks my heart. It’s hard for me to watch, and so I keep myself distracted in my everyday life. I have my boys to keep me occupied, and they do an excellent job of that.
I used to help Julie administer the IV (I’d hold the kitty, and she’d stick it), but recently I’ve stopped because I’ve expressed to Julie that it’s too much for me, and she’s willing to do it on her own. In that, I’ve lost that focused time on just Oreo that I was getting twice a day, and which Julie is still enjoying. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass, especially when you’re late for work, and the kids are late for school, and you think ‘oh great, one MORE thing for me to do!’, but if you surrender to the time, you realize what a gift it is.
Oreo, I’m really gonna miss you when you’re gone. I’m not gonna miss the meds, and the frail thin you that you’ve become, but I’m going to miss that unconditional love that you give so uncharacteristically for a cat. How you’d jump up and sleep by my head at night, just purring so loudly and happily that you were close to me. How many times did I boot you off the bed, or toss you away because I was annoyed with how close you’d get, or how loud you’d purr… and now, well that’s gone. You can’t jump up on the bed anymore, and your purr is so very quiet now. You’d cuddle up on the couch with me whenever I sat down, and I’d toss you off more often than not. Now, you’re in the bathroom most of the time and I hardly see you in the day to day of our lives. Girl, you were a great friend, and if you’re still happy in your life, then you can have it for a while longer. It’s expensive, and it’s a pain, but once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. I can’t give it back to you once it’s taken away. I won’t be able to do this forever, and eventually I may have to say goodbye before you’re ready to go. I’m sad about that, and I’d rather you be the one to let go before I have to force your hand. And yet, for now, I’ll choose not to think about it. I’ll just let you be what you are, in the way that you can. I’ll remember to pet you and to love you, and give you your food and clean your litter box. I’ll do my best to cherish what’s left.
I hope you’re warm and safe tonight, and you’re not too lonely. I’ll see you in a few days.

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Grieving, Introspective, Philosophical