Yesterday Miranda was uninterested in her wet food. She ate a little, then she went back to her chair and her stuffed manta ray friend, Mr. Ray.
I was shaken. She was dying.
She is dying. She’s lived with me for about twenty years, and she wasn’t a kitten then. She’s not take me to the vet dying. She eats and drinks and uses the litter box. She’s I’m-a-mortal-animal dying.
I’ve been pretty convinced that if she died, I would die, that is, we are ET and Elliot, so I would turn white and pale and start having trouble breathing. Well, on the other hand, ET was always extremely nice to Elliot. When I cry, Miranda bites me.
I did our usual snuggling. This morning I got her from the living room and put her on my bed. I brushed her until she bit me. Now that she’s elderly, it takes a lot longer. I watched her breathing, to see if it was “labored.”
As I got ready for the day, she followed me to where I would give her wet food, were we not out of wet food. And back into the bedroom, where she leapt back up on the bed on her own. Her back legs are unsteady, yes, and she only attempts small jumps. But she jumps. Today.
I rewatched the entirety of “ER” last year, and every time they had a family member who was reluctant to let a suffering patient go, I would think, let them go. As the audience, we do.
Since my parents divorced, my goal has been to create a life for myself that involves the least amount of betrayal and surprise, while still enjoying adventures. I’m sure I’ve kept away some trouble, but I also have been anxious. A lot. Either in self protective mode, or imagining new and different scenarios I could avoid or protect myself against.
When I was particularly anxious about Miranda dying, like any modern woman, I googled, “how to deal with cat dying.” And there actually was some good advice in a piece I found: animals live in now. They’re not afraid of death (as far as we can tell). The article also reminded me of a core tenet: the best thing you can give someone is your attention, just being really with them. And that definitely goes for animals, too.
So I’ll pick up some wet food today, and I’ll think again, what should be my plan, when I do touch her and she’s cold? I don’t know. Will it be like finding any of the 20-some dead mice she killed for me? How will I handle the death of our relationship, my entire adult life in three different cities? She’s so much like me: hard to get to know, secretly moody, tough as shit, and friendlier and friendlier as she ages.
I don’t know how I’ll handle it, but I am considering the fact that planning for death (I’ll call my mom, I’ll wrap her in a soft Ikea blankie, and I’ll either bury her or let her be cremated and just let her go, I’ll definitely have some kind of gathering with people who love me, I’ll finally bring my ex-cat back to live with me) is not the same as pre-suffering. I’m not sure pre-suffering helps anything.