A household can change a lot. In the intervening 16 months since my last post on sadness and furry loss (Biscuit the cat died a few days after the post), we opened our hearts to another cat and, through that opening, became parents ourselves. This being is alive, healthy, wondrous. Her story began July 2011, if not before. Now a few months more and sleepless nights caring for a newborn fewer or none, normal is coming back, only it’s a new, better kind of normal. Sitting around at home all day is not a wasted day; it’s an observation of life sprouting, more stories beginning.
One of the downsides of a vivid imagination, sometimes, is the trouble one can get one’s heart into when small and large realities materialize. I’ve previously written about my furry companion, Biscuit, my oblique muse. See, for example, the name of this website. Like all cat parents, I seem to think that she was the cutest kitten ever, though she unscientifically averaged 41% in head-to-head kitten wars. The cat easily situates herself in the background or foreground of my life. She doesn’t mind it either way. I imagine activities and alternate identities for her. I imagine a certain kind of future. All the while, when we adopt pets, the normal quantity of years between us and these sweetnesses yields the invariable result that we will be the constant and final witnesses to their histories which, from a perspective, are more or less as insignificant as our own.
So, the cat got sick last week. Labored breathing. Lost appetite. Hiding under the bed when there was nothing to hide from. Biscuit was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a heart growing too big for its own good. Her heart is failing at age 6 and she, in all likelihood, will be gone much sooner than I planned. Or that I imagined. I hadn’t contemplated the possibility of Biscuit’s life trajectory ending short of double digits. The average lifespan of cats is 12-16 years. The emergency room vet and regular vet say she could go at any time, or have anywhere from a few months to one or two years.
We resolved to make the most of the time we’ve got left with The ‘Scuit. But I keep getting sad before the fact. I sleep uneasily. I wrestle with my inability to let things be. In a week, I hyper-monitor perceived changes, deterioration, improvements from my subjective lens. I wonder if the medications are doing anything. I crouch down to furniture-feet level hunting for her. Call out her name. Stare at her when she’s near her food dish. In other words, I’m changing the way I’ve behaved with her for all of her life, which is more likely than not totally bugging her. Oh god, I’m a helicopter parent.
I’ll be reading this afternoon at the I-Hotel Manilatown Center with these fine poets and performers for Asian American Women Artists Association and Manilatown Heritage Foundation’s quarterly performance and reading series. Check it out if you are in S.F. Chinatown this afternoon for the Autumn Moon Festival.