…you will probably be convinced of it by the end of this post.
I am unspeakably sad. I can’t even tell you how many times a day one of these things happens:
- I stop what I’m doing and think, “I should go upstairs and check on the cat.”
- I go upstairs and look down the hall, hoping to see her laying on the hall rug.
- I walk past “her” room, and expect to see her laying by her food bowl.
- I wake up in the middle of the night, startled that I forgot something so routine as feeding the cat her canned food, and then realize that there’s no cat to feed.
It hasn’t sunk in yet, in other words. She’s gone from the house, but I can’t erase 15 years of companionship from my life, heart, routine. A little part of my brain keeps thinking that it was a terrible dream. (I’ll wake up any minute now, right?)
But that said…
This morning, I posted my good news on Facebook: On Friday, I successfully completed my seminar and, therefore, the requirements for my M.S. in Biology, AND that manuscript has finally been accepted for publication. Then I started working on sciencey things, until suddenly…
A year or so ago, when Phoebe’s range of motion took a step downward and I (prematurely) thought that her time might come soon, I whispered to her, “Cat, all I ask is that you hang on until I finish this master’s.” I knew how much work and stress this degree was going to be in the end, and I didn’t want to get distracted by grief midway through intense data analysis. But life works the way it does, and never on the schedule that we want it to. I am a sane, logical person who knows that, so I absolutely did not think that I was actually making a bargain with my cat.
Phoebe was declining, but making do, until 4 days before my presentation, which is exactly when I would have started REALLY freaking out about giving said presentation. Instead, I spent those days so preoccupied with the cat that I really wasn’t that nervous until just before “showtime”. (I kept telling people that I was nervous, because I didn’t want to admit that I cared & worried more about my cat than this stupid seminar I was obligated to give. But truly, my mind was only on Phoebe.)
Anyway, there were a few times in the past week where I snuggled Phoebe and whispered, “It’s okay, Kitten. You can go when you’re ready, and I won’t stop you.” Although we had an appointment set, I was absolutely prepared, at any time, to take her to the emergency vet in the middle of the night, if need be. But she just kept on holding steady, still full of attitude even as she got weaker, loving me back when I loved on her, and eating treats as I hand-fed them.
Friday night, seminar finished, I said instead, “You did it. You saw me finish my master’s.” What makes that especially crazy – other than, you know, having this conversation WITH A CAT – is the fact that I didn’t remember the previous conversation, a year or so ago. I just opened my mouth, and out came this seemingly random statement, spoken to a feline.
Thinking about it now, I don’t think it was coincidence that, a few hours later, I could no longer entice her to nibble on her favorite treats. She was done.
I still didn’t remember the previous conversation, though. At the vet’s, Saturday afternoon, as she lay on the exam table, dazed and already mostly-gone, I felt compelled to say again that she had seen me finish my master’s, even if my dad never did. What the actual fuck? Where is this shit even coming from?!
I didn’t remember the conversation until just now.
That damn cat (which I say with great affection) decided that, even though I told her to go, she was going to see me finish this. As a parting “gift,” she distracted me sufficiently that I didn’t drive myself batshit crazy by second-guessing my work. I don’t care if you don’t think cats are capable of thought – I absolutely believe this, and I will believe it until the day I die.
And the comment about my dad? Saturday was also the anniversary of Dad’s death. It was probably just a nudge from my subconscious, but I could also interpret it as a reminder that Dad would be proud as hell of what I’ve accomplished.
Thank you, Phoebe.
Today had the potential to be a truly horrible day. Mondays are my work-from-home days, and have traditionally involved a mid-afternoon nap with Phoebe. It’s a small luxury, but one of the highlights of my week, a throwback to a time when I wasn’t so incredibly busy 7 days a week, and I could afford to nap with my pets when I wanted to. This is the first Monday where I wasn’t reminded of naptime with a squawk as I walked by the room, and there will never be another Monday where Phoebe trundles down the hall to get me, too impatient to wait.
Instead, I am okay. Really very incredibly sad, and I miss that furball so much, but I’m actually okay.
We looked out for each other until the very end, and there’s nothing better than that.