Zooey is how Halsted spelled kitty’s name at the vet, instead of Zoe. I thought it was so adorable that I still spell out Zooey when I call them. I put it on her tags. But Tom has changed it to the standard spelling so yet another bit of fun is gone from my life.
Zooey is not well, but she isn’t sick. She has a very nasty looking growth on her lower abdomen and the doctor thinks it may be cancer. She says that Zooey has about 3-6 months to live. No one has told Zooey because she still jumps on my desk every morning to be petted and praised (“Pretty Kitty, Beeuty-ful kitty”). She still tries to beg food from me no matter what sort it is. She still checks on me in the morning and waits outside of the bathroom for me and for all of these I love her.
My cousin’s wife passed away this week. She had a cancerous growth and tried to treat it with holistic medicine. By the time she decided to live and give in to standard medicine, it was too late. Only a few days before she died she told her sister-in-law that she didn’t want to eat and get fat, nor did she want to lose her hair. She weighed 80 pounds and hair is just what’s under your hat, not what’s in your heart. She was scared but she lived out her last months as she wanted.
We could take Zooey to a cat oncologist. Or we can let her live out her remaining time skinny and scraggly furred and waiting for treats and cuddles. We don’t know what she wants but we have to imagine that we do. We try to put ourselves in her place. We think we’d be happy to have 16 years (about 64 people years) and make as little impact at our departure as possible. We’d want people to remember us jumping up and nosing their hands to get more petting and resting our weary little head on their shouders and heaving little sighs between the purrs.
Hell, we don’t know what she’d want. So we make the selfish choice, denial. I can’t even look at her tummy. When she goes I don’t know what I’ll do. I think for the rest of my life I’ll expect her to be with me and I imagine I’ll love her as much then as I do now.
Mooms, this is such an exquisite post. I love the way you write because it so closely mirrors how you think and talk and feel. Thank you for teaching me something every time I read your words.
In some ways it’s a pity that evolution has left us with this instinct to find illness, and the ill, repellent. On the other hand, though, it provides occasions for us to do better — to insist that love and kindness can overrule instinct; to learn again that the better angels of our natures are, indeed, better; and to show that it is such moments of inner struggle that can produce not only virtue but sometimes, even in a blog post, art.
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