I keep telling myself that I’ll get used to the face she makes, but it isn’t true. Or at least, it hasn’t happened yet.
Twice a day now, since October, I have given Jade “treats”, and by treats, I really mean treat-coated pills. We’ve dropped her meds down to cipro, pred, and pepcid, twice a day. Back at the beginning, or even a month ago, I could trick her into eating them: I’d prep the pill pocket, then give it to her. When that stopped working, I’d prep the pills and then wait for 30 minutes or so. She’d forget the noises I’d made with the pill containers and gobble the treats up. I could gauge how she felt by whether or not she’d go straight for the treats. No more.
For the past month, what used to be an irregular occurence is now my every day. Well, twice my every day. I prep the pill, I catch Jade (who has now begun to sprint a bit when she sees me coming), and then I hold her in my arms, one hand over her body, propping open her jaw, and the other, tossing the “treat” down her throat. Have you ever had someone throw something down your throat? If so, I imagine you’d make the face Jade makes: her eyes bulge and she gags, because, well, she’s choking. On days that I’m lucky, she’ll let me hold her afterwards, and in those moments, I apologize and I stroke her belly, scratch her head, let my hand rest on her chest. I believe she knows. Those moments we remember and just are. I hold her tight and pour all my apology into our connection. Other days, she hops away from me faster than fast, and stumbles to catch her footing, just a little bit more each time.
I know, it sounds dramatic, but really, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. See, she’s teaching me about this whole dying thing, and more than that, about this loving thing.
I dated a girl once, and she was diagnosed with cancer. Her diagnosis thrust us both into the future, so much so that neither of us were really present to what was actually going on in the moment. I can see that now, with time.
It’s different with Jade. Maybe it’s ’cause she’s a cat. Maybe it’s because I’m older. Maybe it’s just that we’ve been together longer than I’ve been with anyone else. Or perhaps it’s a combo of it all.
What I know to be true though, is that I learn every day about being present to the every day with Jade. She calls me to sit, to hold, to be with the discomfort or the frustration or the anger or the sadness; the truth is that it changes all the time. And today, the gagging and choking was harder for me than it has been. But she let me hold her and so I’ll cherish that for now. And what will come will come, but not today.