My best friend, Kerry, had plans for quite some time to vacation in Spain over the holidays. Not long before she was to leave, her cat Sammy came down with what we thought was a cold/flu sort of thing. It was ascertained that he had a tiny mass in his hard palate. Kerry and Sammy's doctor had a fair amount of conversation about this—what it meant at the moment and what it might mean in the future and what options were viable.
After two attempts at different antibiotics, Sammy was back to his old self. Kerry and I talked quite a bit about what to do and I encouraged her to continue with her plans and that Sammy would be happy and content at my home for the holidays. Knowing that I wouldn't take no for an answer, I was delighted that Kerry agreed. We decided that Sammy should spend his first night at my home while Kerry was still in town so that we could see how he fared.
The little guy took to his new surroundings immediately. He was my constant companion—except for when he needed his alone time. And this alone time always seemed to involve finding the best patch of sunlight for napping. When he wasn't patrolling the perimeter, he was ensconced in my studio, making his best bid to commandeer my keyboard ... or steal Geo's chair ... or "help" with the podcast that is recorded most Wednesday evenings ... or test out new perches ... or sleep in my lap. I was forced—FORCED, I tell you—to watch old movies with him while he curled up next to me. He had tiny toys and water bowls on all three levels of my home and his meals were served twice a day, each time in a fresh crystal dish.
What? No. Of course I was not wrapped around his elegant, little paw. Not even one little bit.
Near the end of his holiday, he developed a bad cough. I called the Cat Clinic and talked with his doctor. She thought the mass might have a grown a bit and started to cause the congestion I reported. I picked up more meds and proceeded to annoy him at dinnertime with the refresh of antibiotics. He did love, however, that I now had him sit in his new steam room, previously known as my bathroom. He put up no resistance to relocating to the bathroom when he heard the shower running. This new regimen seemed to help, at least enough to take off the edge. He was still eating, even though with a little less enthusiasm. He was still prowling around every level of the house. And he still wanted to "help" record the second podcast during his stay. But I knew down deep that he was diminished, despite his noble attempt to be a good guest. The night before he left, we watched movies together and he lay with his little head on my chest and I suddenly had that sharp corkscrew-to-the-heart feeling. Because I knew. I just knew. It was the inescapable knowledge that this was the last time we would spend an evening like this.
Kerry returned and came to scoop him up. We sat on my red couch, Sammy on her lap, and our conversation that afternoon was a sad one. It was the private conversation between best friends where some things are said and some things are unsaid but completely understood. We have that kind of connection. We packed up the car with the ton of things that a little being needs. (Why is that exactly? The smaller they are, the more things they seem to need. – See: Babies)
Later that day, my cell rang. It was Kerry. With tragic news. Once home, Sammy completely devolved. He had an awful event. She rushed him to the clinic. The mass had grown dramatically and he was fighting to breathe. There was nothing that could be done but the one humane thing.
At age 11, Sammy left us, peaceful and protected and lying in the arms of Kerry, the person he loved most and best.
~ ~ ~
The Bustle in a House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth –
The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –
~ ~ ~
More photos of Sammy and his holiday stay at Sheer Brick Studio.