The other day I really saw the pile of prescriptions and pill bottles,the syringes, the plastic bags and pages of Discharge Instructions. My poor boy went through a lot of meds in a dozen weeks. That was when the tumor on his leg really went nuts, & we had to decide to amputate or not. We did, which is probably what gave us the two months we had with him. I think it might have been quicker otherwise, because it was an aggressive cancer.
But it was in late December that he first had a thing on his leg, and because it appeared so overnight, we thought it was a sprain. We didn’t even wait to take him to the vet. We did x-rays, blood tests. The blood work turned up nothing weird – which, interestingly, it never really did. Our vet here couldn’t find anything, so I sent the x-rays and blood work to a vet friend in NJ and she didn’t find anything either. Because it turned up out of the blue, it looked like a sprain, and everything you read about cats & sprains is that they take a long time to get better, because cats tend not to rest. Now, I feel stupid for waiting as long as we did for this thing that wasn’t a sprain to heal. We iced it, and it got smaller; other days it was bigger, which is what you’d expect of a sprain on a patient who couldn’t be told not to jump up on the sink. I feel stupid for not realizing it wasn’t a sprain sooner, but then I think that even if we had caught it sooner, there was probably another in him ready to go.
Still, it’s hard not to wonder if we could have done anything differently. Really, really hard. & That’s the thing about parenting, furry critter or human: you do your best, & sometimes that’s not enough, & the powerlessness & pain that causes is pretty fucking tremendous.
So I’m happy the 6 months is over, but terrifically angry the 11 years is. It’s very hard to find balance in that equation. He put me to bed every single night – climbed up when I got into bed and got under the covers to be petted and when I was just dropping off he would leave quietly, stepping around my head or Rachel’s. I’d hear the soft thump of him jumping from bed to floor, and go to sleep smiling. Every single night for 11 years until the last few months. How do you not miss that kind of gentle loyalty & affection? It is especially hard because Endymion was always Rachel’s cat, as is Aurora. Aeneas was entirely mine. Of course I take care of the other two, but it’s not the same. I used to call Aeneas my shadow, my heart, my momma’s boy. He was my own Great Stone Face, my tiny Buster Keaton. He loved me so much – sat on my desk next to me for hours, usually in my inbox, which he didn’t really fit in.
Because they don’t speak, you always have a flawless, empathetic relationship with them, sensing moods but never knowing. He was such a stoic – the vets were regularly amazed over these past months at how high a pain tolerance he had, & how much poking he tolerated, too – and I cried on him too many times. He’s been my deepest friend for all these years, when others were busy, or perplexed, or judgmental, or too tired, when I didn’t want advice but only company. Trans people out there know what I’m talking about, and so do all of you others who have been through it in one way or another, who know what it’s like to come home at the end of a day whether you’re 14 or 40 and feel like you just don’t fit into the human race very well. These furry kids remind us that if you have food, a place to live, and someone warm to sleep near, or even two out of three, life is good.
When I didn’t even know how I felt or what I was thinking, he made me laugh and smile. He was a sweet, sweet kid. Some days, I have longed to be the kind of person who can live in shallower water, but Aeneas made swimming in the deep currents something like joyful.