Six years. Six years is a blink in even just the near forty I’ve lived. A drop in the bucket, so to speak. A little more than I threw away on an abusive ex; way too little time to be enough. But then, would it ever be enough? Anything?
I can’t stop thinking about how I have and will continue to live the bulk of my life without him. How I know it only hurts so much because of how much he’s mattered to me. How I wouldn’t trade one precious second to alleviate an ounce of that pain. And part of me keeps saying, “he’s just a cat,” the way I told myself it was just a bird that smacked my windshield so hard it pooped a couple weeks back. And then I go down that all too familiar tunnel of how could there possibly be anything after this for us? Or is space so truly limitless that even with a ratio of a billion insects for each human there would be room enough for every individual soul?
But animals aren’t supposed to have souls. But sometimes they leave ghosts. But those ghosts are just echoes of experiences and people we can’t bring back. Or are they? What is the truth?
I know only this: I don’t know what I’m going to do when I don’t feel him around me. When I knew he was missing, I still caught his shadow in the corner, saw his form in piles of dark clothes on the floor. And, this time, that knowledge will be permanent. And I wonder: where will he go if there’s nowhere? What does it mean if after this there’s nothing? How can I send a being I’ve loved so much to that?
But he’s suffering. The time between flares/that treatment lasts shrinks every month. He’s all but given up grooming himself. I’m shaving mats out of his greasy fur. The one food that fell apart so easy for him makes him scream. He’s scared of his food, so much even hand-feeding him chunks is perceived as a threat. I’m running out of options…and he’s running out of time.
I’m afraid of all the little pieces that will start to go missing: his trill when he really wants to say something, the weight of his little body when he wants to be close to us, how soft his fur is, how we’ll start to notice it no longer gets on our clothes or furniture. And then every piece of him that’s not part of some pet memorial will be gone; all tangibility, like so many things we lose literal touch with. And I can’t help but wonder if it won’t be the same for me some day, that whatever lasting mark I may leave with this world will die with the last person to remember me; will become dust along with the rest of us as sure as the sun will one day swallow our solar system. And there’s no coming back from that.
Needless to say my death anxiety has been shifted into overdrive.
But I don’t want to count down the days, as unavoidable as that may be consciously or otherwise. I want to spend our remaining time giving him all the love he wants, never denying him a cuddle, no matter how far he tries to climb inside my face or how much his streaming drool stinks. And I’m gonna try real hard not to be sad the whole time, to pretend I don’t know this whole time how it’s all gonna end. Human or animal, we don’t sign up for this part, but it’s in the contract. And we all know we wouldn’t have it any other way.