Speaking the Unspeakable

Today, I said it. “Prussia may be dying.” Margaret said, “I was OK until you said it.” An hour or so later, I said, “I was OK until I said it too.”

We have been watching our cat slowly grow older and weaker for three or four years. She can barely jump anymore, she sleeps a lot, she’s getting bad mats in her fur; She has become a finicky eater and is losing weight. Margaret admits she has been preparing herself for a while now, even though she doesn’t exactly say for what. For the last year or two, Margaret gets upset when the cat “sleeps” or “naps” without quite closing her eyes. It would freak Margaret out, so she has taken to watching for Prussia’s side raising and lowering as she breathes.

We have often talked about how inconvenient it is to have such a long-lived cat — we have been planning to sail around the world, and we hear that kitty passports can be a real pain. It also means we can’t go away for long without either taking her with us or finding someone to take care of her. She is eighteen now, and would be nineteen sometime in July; We never really expected her to live this long anyhow. I guess we really expected her to live forever, like you always do.

But five days ago she pretty much stopped eating. I never worry at first when she does that, because she would often go a day or two hardly eating, and then get hungry the next day, and eat a lot of food. Today I said the unspeakable. However hard you try to prepare yourself, there is no preparation, and today I know that.

I am again remembering two things: First, nothing is permanent in this world; in other words, death is a unavoidable part of life. I’m sure I’ll spend the rest of my life learning this in the true and visceral way, not just intellectually. Second, nothing in life is certain. I have always expected to outlive Prussia, but I have no way of being sure that will happen.

Of course I’m still hoping she will recover her spark and fight her way back to heath…for a few months or years. But I can’t stop my brain from racing around through the other possibility and its consequences for us.