He’s 16 years old, and has been around since before my own child. I have a hard time remembering life before Harmon.
If you’ve never had a beloved pet, if you’ve never known the beauty of their unconditional love, you can stop reading and I won’t fault you. I’d rather you click away than try and understand.
Harmon will be having surgery today, Monday the 14th to remove a lesion from his lip. It started out looking like nothing more than a blemish on his chin, but it never healed and lately it’s gotten worse. The vet said that it just needs to come off, that certain cancers manifest themselves in this manner and a pathology test will determine once and for all what it really is.
Sixteen years ago I was walking through the rescue shelter, gazing in the cages at all manners of cats. The cages stood three high, and they were all filled. Suddenly I felt something grab my leg from the middle cage near where I was standing, and I bent over to look in. This adorable orange furry face gazed back at me, and reached a huge fluffy paw towards me again. Here was a 4-month old kitten that was enormous, with an equally huge fluffy tail. I got him out of his cage and took him into a small room where you could ‘get acquainted’. This fuzzball of a cat started purring like he’d eaten a jet engine. He literally vibrated from head to tail as he purred and rubbed his chin endlessly on me. With one desperate gaze from his golden eyes, I fell in love and took him home. I was besotted, a complete goner. I was chosen, picked by the cat instead of the other way around. Someone must have known just exactly what I needed.
And then a vet says ‘Cancer’ and suddenly I can’t even sleep. And it could be nothing worse than a clogged pore, but all I can think about is what life might be like without that purr, those golden eyes and the gentle love he’s always given me. This has been the finest cat I’ve known. He’s always willing to offer a snuggle, he breaks into his trademark purr if I even look at him and say his name, and no matter what I’ve done, where I’ve lived, what I’ve gone through- which have been some extremely dark times- he’s been right there, settling in against my leg, curling his claws in contentment when I scratch his ears and being steadfast and constant throughout it all.
He’s my sunshine fiend. One ray of sunshine in the house, and he’ll find it.
But he’s 16. Climbing the stairs is hard, and getting on the bed is harder. He sleeps way more than our other cat. He seems shaky and stiff on occasion, but once in a while he kicks up his heels and runs around like a kitten, batting at a toy or chasing an invisible target. But he is old, and there is fear in me. I know that keeping pets in your life opens up the possibility of enormous heartbreak; I’ve been down that road already, owning pets since I was 10 years old. I’m aware of how much it can hurt.
Cancer. Pathology. Fear.
I’m trying to think of positive outcomes, but quite frankly it’s difficult, if not impossible. Inevitably, if it isn’t this it will be something else and I’ll have to face it then so I run the movie in my head of what it will be like to say goodbye to him, to wake up and come down my stairs and not hear his loud chirp of greeting, and see the way he runs straight to the cabinet that holds the cat treats even though he knows that he has to wait. To watch TV without him contentedly purring in my lap. To see how he drags himself from a deep sleep when someone is in the kitchen because he just has to come in and check to make sure we haven’t dropped a lovely tidbit he could eat.
What will it be like to eat dinner and not have him pawing us?
Will Spring be the same without an adorable shaved cat in the house?
My heart can barely handle these questions now.