They're Not Just Pets

 My beloved fourteen year old cat, Buddy.

My beloved fourteen year old cat, Buddy.

A steady stream of tears trickled down her swollen face.  One look at her and I knew she'd been crying for hours. Held lovingly to her chest was a story of deep love and tremendous loss.  It was the way in which she gently clung to that blanket that made my heart jump in recognition of a similar future that would likely befall me and my Buddy.  A final tribute to the life she had cared for, now come to an end. 

Here in this place of hope and hugs, bright neon scrubs merge with steel cages, wounds and tinctures. Silence as soft as a lingering cloud descends on those who wait and creates an unspoken haven of compassion and love. We fiercely hold onto the remnants and unbroken parts of creatures who were once whole and perfect - delaying the emotional rip that shatters illusions of what mercy might be. 

Will I be capable, when Buddy shows me through a knowing look or an unfamiliar sound, of making with unconditional love that choice I can never undo? 

I know the answer is yes, but I don't know how heavy my breath or body will be that day. Panic as thick as a woolen sweater works its way into the crevices where fear hides within me. I don't want to feel so much sadness and utter loss. I don't want to feel like her when it will be me who holds a blanket like it's my baby, but I know I will because of how much I love him. 

My baby...emerald green eyes are surrounded by charcoal gray fur. Independent, feisty, curious feline he is. He mirrors myself like a twin at times. We are tender caregivers of play and delight for each other. Fourteen years have passed since I fell in love with the one who would come to teach me so much.

Rest. Relax. Forgive. Forget. Purr because you feel good. Purr because you can.

Medicine-dispensing tools of promise and prolonged life enter just under the skin of his backside twice a week. Tolerance and acceptance have become our mutual companions as we learn this is where life has incredible meaning. The dollars and cents are extraordinary. Countless hours of feeding and scooping and worrying and wondering - is this all worth it? I know the answer is yes again.  

Investments of the heart, our pets serve us not as their masters, but as whispers of our own souls.   

They were soul tears on her red cheeks. They were love streaks. They were the story I knew nothing about and yet I knew everything because of the look she wore on her face. It's a story I'm currently living with - wondering about the way it might possibly end and knowing the timing of when I hold that blanket will rest solely in my hands.