Mojo has a new thing. She comes up with new things all the time and I find it impossibly charming that even though she's been with me for 13 years, she still finds new things to do on a regular basis. For the longest time, she's had a ritual when I go to bed, coming up next to me and lying down while grabbing my left hand and then she lies there purring while we hold hands. When she's had enough, she'll wander off to the bottom of the bed where after her pre-sleep grooming session, she'll spread out across the foot of the bed, back legs up against my leg, tail decorously draped over my shin. Terribly adorable, except when I wake up at lying diagonally because she has slowly and oh-so-sweetly pushed against my legs so she can have more room.
I'm just grateful she lets me borrow the bed every now and again.
This is still going on, but she's added a new element to the bonding session. As I lie down, she places herself by my right shoulder, purring expectantly and as the attendant who's helping me get into bed puts the comforter over me, Mojo lets me know in no uncertain terms that she wants to go under, so naturally (because I live to serve), I lift up the comforter and in she goes. She walks half across my body and lies down, back legs on one side of me, front legs on the other and as the impossibly soft and silky fur on her belly starts to warm my stomach, my hands strokes the even softer fur on her head and glide over the length of her back to her tail and she cranks up the volume and gives me her throatiest, happiest purr.
She's done this since last Wednesday evening and it makes me wonder if somehow she knows. If she's picked up on my feelings and for the first time in her life comes to me instead of keeping her distance and giving me space when I'm upset. It makes me wonder if this increase in mommy-itis comes out of her feeling, somehow knowing there's something wrong. Because last Wednesday evening, the test came back. Positive for cancer.
And that's the point where I started thinking. About how much she has been through - were she a car, she'd be a lemon - about talking to the specialist in internal medicine last year, saying I just wanted to give her a couple of good years now that we’d finally found out what was going on in her gastrointestinal area. Remembering that one of the responsibilities you accept when you take a pet into your home is not just to take good care of it, but to do the hardest thing when the hardest thing will end suffering.
And then I thought of the last 13 years with Her Royal Catness. Of spending 24 hours a day, every day with her face in my face, of catering to her whims, be they food, a cuddle or play. I thought of her sitting at me so loudly I can hear it in another room, of the ways she comes to get me when she wants a brush, making sure she has my attention then leading the way into the bedroom, tail held high, ears turned back to check that I am following, going up on the bed, waiting on the corner for me to get the brush and assume the position so she can step onto my lap, purring so deeply that my legs vibrate.
I thought of her lying on the bed behind me as I write, running towards me when I open the door as I come home, sometimes running past me into the hallway where she checks her outer territory and I spend several minutes attempting to herd her back inside again (only eventually succeeding when she’s good and ready). Of her delight in meeting new people (as long as they aren't the veterinary kind), her profound love of children, her obsession with boxes and bags, of the way she places her paw possessively on me or the armrest of my wheelchair, not allowing me to move because I am hers and of the way she lies down next to me when she's not feeling entirely well, putting her front paws on my arm in a slightly different way, this time for comfort. I thought of the years of my big flare and the recovery when my life got smaller and smaller, when the pain isolated (because illness and pain are hard on relationships) and how for a very long time, needing to take care of her was what kept me going, her face in my face, her purr every day giving me love and warmth in the hard times. Of the way she has for 13 years opened my heart every single day and how for 13 years, she’s made me laugh at least once every single day, even during the darkest of the dark times. And I thought of the way she is interwoven in my days and nights, part of everything I do because that's the kind of cat she is, as much there in my life as I am myself.
And I knew that I needed more information before I could make a decision because if I didn’t, I would spend the rest of my life wondering if it could have been fixed and so, she went to see the oncologist last Friday. The x-rays and ultrasound are clear with no metastases, the surgeon thinks he can get the mass with good margins and to me, there is no question that we do this, because all things considered, that's good news and I cannot let my wee familiar down. The money doesn't matter - it’s why god invented credit cards - because if she is not suffering, if the cancer has not spread, this is what happens when you share your life with animals, this is part of the promise you make when you take them home.
This afternoon, she'll have the surgery and a colonoscopy to make sure that there's just the one lesion/mass. Please send some good thoughts her way.