We Are Saved Only By Love
My kitty Edward, who has been one of the larger than life characters on this blog for its entirety, went into decline at the end of March. He stopped eating much of anything and lost so much weight that he seemed just literally skin and bones. I think at the end his bones were hurting his skin FROM THE INSIDE. I took him to our vet and they couldn't find anything wrong with him without a whole host of invasive tests and I just...I just couldn't do that to him. I still feel terrible about putting Scout through the surgeries at the end of his life. I knew Scout was dying, but the vets we were using convinced us that it might be worth it and that we could have as much as another year with him and he'd have a good quality of life. It's just so hard to know the right thing to do with our pets, you know? I've learned that I need to trust my instincts. Edward was 13 and medically fragile for most of his life; he wasn't going to get better.
So, I promised Edward that I wouldn't let him suffer and I honestly believe he wasn't suffering until the last day when I instinctively knew he was. Last Monday, I came to the heartbreaking conclusion that it was time to let him go.
Anyone who has ever had to reach that conclusion, and I think it's just about every pet owner out there, knows the pain of that decision. And probably also knows the anguished resolve not ever to set ourselves up for that kind of pain again.
Right as I was ready to resolve not ever to love anything EVER EVER AGAIN, a friend posted this quote by Tennesee Williams:
"The world is violent and mercurial -- it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love --love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love."Which pretty much sums up everything I know to be true.
In a weird way, I think Edward was just hanging on to see me through this cancer business. Right up until his last day, he slept on my pillow at night and curled up inside the curve of my body at nap time. His purr was still there, albeit diminished.
I miss him so much, but I am glad he's free of pain now.
The hard thing is trying to make sense of this loss within the context of all of the other losses of the last 18 months. The catastrophic illness of my older child and her fledging to college in California after her recovery, the heartbreaking and unnecessarily ugly ending of my 20 year marriage, the loss of my yoga studio and practice and my dogs, the emotional fallout of the divorce on my younger daughter, the breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgeries and the impending course of radiation...and then Edward. I alternate between some kind of Job-like anguish and this feeling that maybe everything I've built over the last 20 years has to burn away in order for me to become what I'm meant to become. Truly, it depends on when you catch me as to whether I feel like I've re-entered the atmosphere with everything nonessential stripped away, or if I feel like God's whipping post.
Mostly the former, I think. When all is said and done, I remain a hopeful person. I just seem to be wired that way.
There is no greater act of hope I can think of than making the commitment to another four-legged friend. It's not a commitment I take lightly --I believe it's for life, no matter the particular idiosyncracies of either party. (See: Scout. If you're new to the blog you might want to search for the Scout stories. They're hilarious.) My daughter Jane and I are going to begin the search for another furry roommate next week. I have a lot of love to give, and I don't want to live alone without something that loves me back unconditionally. (Jane is 16 and doesn't always fit that category.)
Rest in peace, Edward. Thanks for loving me through this hard year and for providing so much comic relief. I'll miss you.