Monday, January 25, 2010
The vet oncologist confirmed this afternoon that Maddy's cancer is back. There is nothing left to do but keep her comfortable and monitor her closely so that when her time comes, we can help her along in a kind and timely fashion. She made an amazing go of fighting her cancer--she lasted 18 months, which is about 12 more than they originally thought she'd live past diagnosis. Guy offered to go to today's appointment with me, but he has a deadline so I didn't make him. However, when it comes time for that final appointment, I think Guy's going to have to go with me.
Maddy and I have had a good run. This March would be12 years I've had this tortie ball of awsum and win in my life. A constant companion around the house: on the toilet, on the balcony, in the bed (much to Guy's chagrin), at the computer, wherever--there she was, meowing and purring and following and even occasionally tapping me with one of her big, white paws or even giving me a nibble on the hand or wrist, as if to say, "Knock off whatever you're doing and pet and feed me, fool!" She could be a real pain in the ass, to be sure, but ultimately it was such a wonderful thing to know that someone unequivocally loved me, missed me, and was glad to see me when I walked through the door at the end of each day. Whether she was perched in her cat tree in my cruddy ground-level cinderblock grad school apartment in Florida, snorfling up under the covers and spooning with me in my chilly downtown Denver loft, or perching on the back of the chaise here at the Happy Kitten Highrise and purring while I read, she has been a fixture in my entire adult life.
And it seems so unreal that in a time which hastens ever nearer, she--one of the few constants of the past twelve years--will be gone from that adult life. No furry, sneezing creature crawling up on the bed just before my alarm goes off, no yowling from the other side of the front door as my keys jingle to go into the lock, and only one food bowl in the dining room floor...it will be Hazel and Hazel alone. Not that Hazel will mind--Maddy's been kicking her ass ever since they met in the summer of 1998, and Hazel's probably had more than enough of it. Right now as I type this, Maddy is curled up under the heat lamp in my bathroom while Hazel lolls in the living room floor, taking a bath and occasionally chirping and rubbing her face on a catnip toy. As Maddy has declined these past couple of weeks, Hazel has become more social, more present in the public areas of the house. I wonder how she'll be after Maddy's gone. Even though Hazel seems to be enjoying her new status as soon-to-be top cat, I occasionally have seen them curled up on the futon together in the TV room, and now and again when Maddy's on my bathroom rug, Hazel is curled up on a nearby rug, about two feet away.
Maddy and I have to go through a process that may be as hard as death--we have to separate from each other over the coming days and weeks. We must adjust to the reality that she's not running to the door anymore and I'm not going to have to fight her off of whatever I'm eating if I'm on the futon watching TV. And by "we", I mean "I". She will spend more time in the closet and in my bathroom (both very warm places in the condo), and I will read alone on the chaise and only have Hazel to bother me as I work on the computer (which she has started to do, interestingly enough). It seems unreal that at some point soon, I will no longer be able to snap a picture of her or put the phone down to her so Grandma can hear her loud "MROWR!" in the kitchen. Until that time comes, I can only be as kind as possible, kinder than I've ever been. I can only attempt to repay the kindness she has shown me for the past twelve years by helping ease her pain as needed, and ultimately by letting her go.