Scotty, my stud-muffin, in 2006
I know that many of you are keeping more serious, human vigils. I know of your battles and trials. But I must ask that you also keep Scotty and me in your prayers.
I’ve used here a photo from a while back. I do not want to post a current photograph of Scotty. He has lost too much weight. His eyes are too sunken. His coat has lost its sheen. He is too unsteady on his feet. I am too worried.
Scotty turned 19 in April. He came into my life as a tiny kitten when was living in Atlanta. He has lived through most of my professional career … through most of my whole adult life. He’s the only one who has been with me through all of it.
He stayed with me when my life went topsy-turvy and I moved to Philadelphia in 1996 … and then to Missouri in 1998. In those two years, we lived in at least 4 different homes. But he hung in there. Back then, it was just Scotty, Shug, and me. You may remember that I lost Shug in 2008.
In a nutshell … Scotty has stayed with me from the dawn of my professional life into what feels like its dusk. Sometimes it feels like he is my oldest, most steadfast friend.
This evening, browsing through my blog, I was reminded of what a friend said a few years ago. She reminded me of that Gospel passage that reads something like, "Having loved them … he loved them to the end." My friend reminded me what a great honor it is to love my cat even to the end.
A few years ago, Scotty became seriously ill. He spent about 10 days in the vet’s ICU. I visited him every morning and evening, holding him, whispering to him … calling him back to life, it seemed to me. My vet didn’t expect him to come back, but he did, and she still calls him her “miracle kitty.”
Scotty became diabetic, and I have attended to that. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, you may remember the frustration I felt when my right hand was paralyzed and I needed to take his glucose readings and give him insulin.
In short, Scotty and I have been together through thick and through thin … when he was frail and when I was disabled. While others have come and gone, Scotty has been the constant.
But this weekend, when I bring him to lie with me on the sofa, he soon leaves me to hide again under the guest bedroom bed. He does so on very wobbly legs. … And when I cradle him in my arms, I realize his breath has That Smell. Some of you know That Smell. It’s the smell that tells you that your beloved friend’s systems are shutting down.
I have been saying that I wanted to keep Scotty with me as long as his life had pleasure. Tonight, I am beginning to question whether that time has come – whether perhaps the suffering or misery is now outweighing the pleasure. He comes to me often now with a plaintive “meow” that sounds markedly different to me than his usual “meow.” It sounds mournful. Is it a request for cuddling? I certainly respond by holding him and loving him. Or is it a plea that I let him go? I do not know.
I will confess this selfishly: I have observed his decline for a few weeks now. And I have neglected to take him to the vet. Mind you, the vet and I have had such conversations that I know there’s nothing she can do to “fix” him. Taking Scotty to the vet means handing him over to death. I’ve known that for weeks, and I’ve therefore delayed it. My schedule has been such that I have had an excuse every week. For I know that the day I take him to the vet will be his last trip there. And I know that I’m going to be a complete wreck for days afterwards. I will be saying “goodbye” to my last, most stalwart, most faithful companion.
As I have written this, I have been sobbing deeply at times. Sobbing even before I make the odious appointment with the vet. If I am weeping this much prospectively, I shudder to think how I will grieve after the fact when I lose my old friend.
And I suppose that is why I am writing tonight – so that when/if Scotty dies, I can simply announce the fact and refer you to this.
Scotty has been the best, most longsuffering companion I have had in the ups and downs … the tumults of my life over the past two decades. If – or, as it now seems, when – I lose him, something very deep and intense will be lost.