My precious Buddy is dying.
There, I said it. The reality of this, after a terrible visit last night with John, has pierced through my wall of denial this morning and it’s almost too much to bear.
He has some hard tumors growing in his jaw. His tongue is protruding and he’s drooling. The Vet said last week it’s most likely a fast growing bone tumor (cancer). She X-ray’d his whole body and nothing else showed up anywhere else but this tumor will eventually cut off his ability to swallow and breathe and it will kill him.
How ironic that the Vet’s office just called me as I was typing this and I could barely speak I’m bawling so hard. It’s very difficult, as I’m sure many of you readers have faced, to accept hard realities that you are in fact going to lose someone (or something but I consider my beloved Buddy a “someone” to me) and there’s nothing you do can about it.
My brother is still desperately suicidal and there’s nothing I can do about that either. But I can only face one terribly sad thing at a time so I flip flop between these two right now.
I’m not quite sure of how to proceed with Buddy because the testing to determine 100% what he has is expensive and the diagnosis, likely is something that will have no treatment. He has a very hard bony tumor under his jaw that is spreading fast. I’ve read and read about it online and these bone tumors don’t waste time. I see changes in him just from several days ago when I took him for this first exam on this.
The confusing thing in a way is he’s eating better, once I realized he needed pureed soft food. He’s gaining weight back and his coat looks much better. But he’s getting sicker as his poor little tongue is protruding and he’s drooling. Yet there is he, crawling up right next to me as always, affectionate, purring, jumping on and off the bed. I want to think he’s ok but he’s not. I know he’s dying. I just can’t stand it.
Buddy has been with me for 14 years, through so much.
I was at the time living in this small condo I was renting after I left my marriage. I couldn’t have pets there, but one day one of my clients came in desperate about this cat. She told me her best friend was in town closing up her father’s home who’d just died. That he’d had this cat that she didn’t know what to do with. This cat had sat on her father’s bed comforting him through his entire convalescence but the daughter had no real connection to the cat herself. She didn’t want to take her to the shelter.
My heart just went out to this situation and I agreed to take the cat in temporarily although was not supposed to have a pet. I assured her I’d find her a good home. Well, best laid plans. Mia injected herself immediately right in to my heart and I called my landlord begging her to let me keep her. I paid an additional deposit and now, I had a cat.
She was a very social and affectionate cat and I was gone a lot. One day, after returning from a vacation and having boarded her, I went to pick her up at the “pet boarding place” (I can’t think of the right name) and saw a notice on the bulletin board about some kittens that needed homes.
I read about how they’d been rescued from the sewer, having been born down there in the heat of the summer. The rescuer later told me it took them an entire day to retrieve all those kittens, who of course were feral.
I called her up and found out she was just up the road from me and drove over. I saw little Buddy, tiny, crazy scared and knew he was for me, a friend for Mia. It took us 3 hours to capture this little terrified kitty. The rescuer was so terrified herself to let any of them go after all she’d invested in rescuing them. She told me to promise her if it didn’t work out, to bring him back. I assured her I would.
I brought tiny 2 pound Mia’s “Buddy” home who proceeded immediately to get lost in my condo for three days. I literally had no idea where he was hiding. That first evening I sat on my couch, felt a tiny movement on my thigh through the armrest. He had crawled up in to the workings of that sofa, in to the arm rest and remained there for three solid days.
I would wake up at night, petrified he was doing to die in there and go in “pet chat” rooms for reassurance. Someone said to me “an animal will not starve to death if there is food around”. So I opened that sleeper sofa and put food and water inside on the floor for him. I never heard a peep and he remained tucked away in that arm rest until…
One night I was laying in bed and heard a crunch crunch sound. Mia was on the bed with me as always so I tiptoed out and saw that tiny cat over by the food. Once he saw me however, he bolted right back to the sofa. It was my first sighting of him since I brought him home.
This kind of thing went on for a solid month. He hid either in the sofa arm or behind the kitchen cabinets I discovered one day.
I almost brought him back to the rescuer about a month in to this when I couldn’t find him anywhere and heard this tiny meow. I realized it was coming from the fireplace. I stuck my head in to that sooted chimney and two little eyes were peering back at me from the flue. He had tried to escape the house by crawling up in there. It broke my heart and terrified me. I normally didn’t try and grab him but in this case I did, worried he was injured up there, and pulled his little tar black body out of that chimney only to have him screech and fly out of my arms and straight to the bathroom in terror.
I had to go to work so threw water and food in there and closed the door leaving him in there. When I came home, there were little black paw prints all the way up the walls and doors. I didn’t know how on Earth I could keep this wild feral cat.
I kept going in to the chat rooms and one night someone said “he will come to you through your other cat. Let her bring him to you”. That person also told me “either he will stay skittish like this the rest of his life or he will become the best cat you ever have”.
These words stuck with me, in fact I clung to them for dear life. So I started noticing Mia’s behavior. Never once did that sweet cat ever hiss at Buddy or be aggressive with him (tears). She just stood patiently waiting for him to come around outside the sofa, across the room, near the food dish. Just watching…and waiting.
I’ll never forget the night I was on my bed reading and I heard this little “poof”. I knew he’d popped up on the bed. I didn’t veer my eye contact to even look at him as even making eye contact would send him running or rather crawling with his tiny belly to the ground like a Marine in battle back to his hiding place.
So I just sat there, stone faced, not even wanting to smile or move and he joined us.
That was the beginning of Buddy becoming the best cat I’ve ever had.
Mia and Buddy grew very close, like mother and son. She was probably the only mother he ever had, practically.
When she died, of lung cancer of all things, several years ago in my arms, Buddy went in to a severe depression for almost a year. He started that belly crawling again and lost his luster in his eyes. It was just as heartbreaking as losing Mia, his extreme grief.
I got Sabine shortly thereafter because I just couldn’t bear watching him like that. They became close but nothing like him and Mia. A loved one just cannot be replaced, we all know this. (more tears)
When I was down at the Ranch a few weeks ago I took a memoir writing class. We were asked, as an assignment one day, to describe “What is Home?”.
This is what I scribbled out in that 5 minute allowance:
I lay myself on my right side on the white feather sofa I found for a $300 steal at the consignment store. After settling in comfortably, I call Buddy’s name in the falsetto he only recognizes. He comes from whatever sunny hiding place he’s found, crawls up into the curl of my belly, roots around until he finds his perfect spot. And we spoon.”
I wrote this before coming back, realizing how sick he is.
Sabine is also distancing from him now. Animals know this detaching thing so much more naturally and organically than us humans. We tend to hold on for dear life. I’m holding on for dear life right now and at the same time I know my days are very numbered.
It’s a strange relationship we engage in with these furred children we adopt. We bond with them in such a pure way, a way you don’t get in these complicated human relationships. And in order to go deep like that, we also have to go in to years of denial that we will most certainly out live them and have to bury them one day.
One of the things I’ve noticed about myself, having endured so much loss throughout my life, is that intimacy, the choice to be intimate with a loved one is one of the most terrifying things I ever endeavor. It’s easier to stay distant in the delusion of some kind of “protection’ yet with the side effect of sure loneliness and unfulfillment. It’s something I have struggled with my whole life, stepping in to intimacy like ripping off a bandaid and just going for it.
I also know the pain of regrets so that outweighs the fears of attachment with it’s certain detachment.
But once that commitment is made, you can drop deeper as it’s already where you are. There’s some kind of “point of no return” I’ve noticed when it comes to that kind of risk taking.
I took that risk with Buddy after that chimney incident, realizing we were in it together for the long haul. And I’ve bonded deeply with this little animal through so many of my life’s struggles. He was always there curling up in to the soft curve of my belly or my armpit. On the couch, in the bed, on the back of the chair I sit in as I type, curling around my neck.
How brave he is. He has to know he’s on his last days as he struggles to swallow the pureed food I make for him now that he begs for and laps up. Yet he keeps coming to me, every night, purring and curling in to my body.
I think he’s trying to comfort me. Soon is coming a moment where I have to make that unselfish decision for him, knowing his attempts to comfort me are outweighed by this pain he is in and I will have to let him go.
I’m just glad I have the day off today. And on Friday when I take him to the Vet for the certain bad news and horrible terrible decisions to be faced.
But now he walks down the stairs, past me, his little tongue hanging out, in to the sunshine by the back door and he’s here.
And I take every last moment, every last breath I can share with this beautiful unconditionally loving creature, knowing he will never be replaced and that I will miss him for the rest of my life.
Yet I will have to let him go.
Oh my Dear Precious Buddy.
My life will never be the same without your loving presence.