Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Old Girl's Story

I had not heard from my friend Will Briarwood for a while, so I sent him an e-mail and asked him how the cats were doing. He called me back.

“It looks like we’re getting near the end for the old girl.”

I am sorry to hear that, Will.

“Yeah. We took her to the vet yesterday – she was already scheduled to get her blood work rechecked, but then she suddenly stopped eating a couple days ago, and she’s been really weak and lethargic. The vet took a chest x-ray, and said her lungs are in worse shape than we thought.”

Is she still coughing?

“No, actually, she was coughing a lot a week ago, then she stopped. And she was eating ok, so we thought she was doing pretty well. But now…”

We can talk about this some other time, if you prefer…

“Well, let me give you the situation, and let me tell you a quick story. We were at the vet for like ninety minutes yesterday, and I’m trying to process everything he’s telling us. And not only am I trying to understand the old girl’s health – Mary compared it to when her grandmother died, after having pneumonia several times, her lungs were just worn out – not only that, but Mary was also asking the vet about putting her to sleep, and I’m trying to take this all one step at a time…”

You and Mary will know what step to take when, Will.

“I know. Mary already talked to a vet who does house calls, so when the time comes, we can let the old girl go without having to stress her out with one final trip to the vet…”

Can we do anything for you?

“No, I think we’re ok. If only the old girl would get her appetite back, then maybe we would have a bit more time – I really wanted to get her to her birthday in a month.”

How old will she be?

“She would be – will be – could be… she was born on September 2, 1992, so her fifteenth birthday is coming up.”

If I remember correctly, that would make her about seventy-five in human years.

“Seventy-six on the chart we use. Let me tell you a quick story, then I gotta go.”


“True story, unless I was dreaming. I’ve mentioned that all of the cats sleep in our bed with us.”

You have.

“And they come and go during the night – sometimes I wake up, and they’re all there, sometimes it’s a couple of them, sometimes they’re all somewhere else.”

Go on.

“Week or two back, I woke up early one morning. Mary was asleep, and all four cats were in the bed with us. After a few minutes, the old girl gets up, climbs out of bed, and walks to the bedroom doorway. She sits there for a moment, and, half awake, I call her name. She looks over her shoulder for a few seconds, then she walks out into the hallway, turns the corner, and she’s gone. And I’m lying there, completely… what’s the word I want…”


“No, that would imply something scary, or evil. Unsettled, maybe? Lying there in bed, me and Mary, with only three cats. And the image of the old girl, sitting in the doorway, on her way to… somewhere…”

That would be unsettling.

“And you know how it is, when we’re stressed by things like this, sometimes we try to read too much into a normal occurrence.”

Like this was a premonition?

“Or a message from the old girl, that she wanted me to know that she would be leaving soon…”

Are you sure there is nothing that covivant and I can do for you?

“We’ll be ok. One way or another. I’ll let you know how things go.”

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