My family and I recently got some awful news. Tom, our twelve-and-a-half-year-old cat, is in renal failure.
There’s no cure, but we are doing all we can to care for him. He’s getting lots of ear rubs, cuddles, and under-chin scratches. His appetite waxes and wanes, so we’re offering a steady stream of tasty tidbits and fresh water to tempt him. Often, he prefers quiet isolation, and we’ve created comfy nests of blankets and towels where he can rest.
We want Tom to have more time to roll in the dirt in the backyard and come running when he hears us whistle. To meow at breakfast time and squint contentedly after dinner. To chase a toy across the floor, batting it with his paws and biting it with his fierce little teeth. To sleep, curled up and purring, next to us at night.
We want him to live forever.
But of course, that’s not possible. Not for Tom; not for anybody.
So, we are focused on his comfort, surrounding him with warmth and affection. Making his last days, however many they are, full of whatever makes him happy.
When we welcomed him into our lives, many years ago, we knew the potential for heartbreak. Pets can get sick, injured. They age faster than humans. Always, there is hope for a good, long life, many years of health and vitality, but there is also awareness that there are challenges.
Still, we take a risk. We choose to focus on what makes it all worthwhile.
Perhaps The Beatles said it best –
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.