Conversation with Cricket

I had another session with Danielle Tremblay of Insight With Animals mainly to connect with Cricket. I checked in with Penny, too, just to make sure she likes the new apartment and to see if there’s anything more I can do for her right now.

Penny likes the new space, says it’s light and bright, and warm, safe, and comfortable. She feels like I’m not finished unpacking. In fact I am, but she complained that “all of the objects aren’t out for me to look at.” I think because we’ve had roommates for so many years now she’s used to seeing the bookshelf in my bedroom, where most of the chotchkies sit. It’s in the dining area now, the least used room in the house because I’m a bachelor and I eat dinner on the couch watching TV. They’re spread out on the mantel, as well, and throughout the shelving in the main entryway, and all over, really.

It always amazes and amuses me when Danielle can tell me what my homes look like from what my cats show her. Penny likes one room in particular with a “wall of windows,” she said. “Wow! A wall of windows!” She also told Danielle that the ceilings are “very tall.” Well, yes, they are.

When we lived at Jax’s house, I asked Cricket how she liked it, and she did. She made sure to tell Danielle of another apartment she expressly did not like, showing her a narrow, dark space. “It’s true!’ I said. “I called it The Rail Car, because it was long and narrow, and it had such bad natural light that all of my plants died but one.”

Oh, Cricket.

First, she showed Danielle the image of her wrapped around me like a hug, while seated on a desk or a table. That’s exactly how we were! The exam table comes down at the vet, and I sat on a bench just below it. We were wrapped around each other, and I whispered my love to her while she purred to her last beautiful breath.

Next, Cricket gave a big sigh and told Danielle, “Mom has to know that I am so relieved.”

I knew she was. That last night was so hard. I told her a couple of times, “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll see the vet tomorrow, and you can go.”

She said, “Thank you.” She was so tired, and also, curiously, couldn’t seem to get out of her body herself, so she needed that support. “Thank you for understanding.”

Then I was scared that maybe I’d waited too long, that I shouldn’t even have made her suffer the ups and downs of never quite finding our stable dose, but for those last several weeks. Of course, she had told Danielle back then that she was content to stay in body while we sorted it out, even though she felt lousy.

Danielle reassured me that I hadn’t waited too long. “I’m glad that you tried,” Cricket said. “It would have been a bit of a shock to go sooner.”

“She loved being with you in the physical, and she continues to love being with you now,”  Danielle told me, adding that she sits on the bed near my head. Yep. That’s where she slept.

Penny reported that she’s on the ottoman sometimes, too, next to the bed.

Cricket told me that Penny needs extra TLC, even though she’s acting normal. She’s still adjusting and needs extra attention. Danielle reported that Penny didn’t go through a period of mourning. She understood that Cricket was sick, and she intuited and understood everything that was going on. “This is what happens.” She did agree, though, that quiet time is “extra quiet” without Cricket’s physical presence.

I asked Danielle if she could tell me about the days immediately following Cricket’s passing, and you’ll never guess. She tapped into that dream! I woke up with a feeling of her on my chest – and with a cat that girthy, it was unmistakably Cricket – and remembered her biting me in my dream. Cricket told Danielle that the bite was so I would know it was real, and that’s exactly what made it real for me! It was so physical and tangible, I couldn’t dismiss it as my imagination.

Danielle complimented Cricket on how well she got my attention. 🙂

I asked about the song, and Cricket’s reply was interesting. She didn’t send it. It was from the general universe. Of course it was! I believe in a loving Universe, and I see signs and magic nearly every day. Why should Source not have my back on such a day, losing my big fat belly cat? I still marvel at the lyrics of that song, the timing of it starting – first strum of the first note – just as I turned the engine, and especially that it was a new to me. Having never known the words, I heard Cricket’s voice.

It felt as though she was speaking directly to me. I could feel her right next to me, separated by a millisecond. I could see what she must be newly experiencing, “standing at the center of time as it curls.”

It will forever remain one of the most miraculous things I’ve experienced.

Danielle validated Cricket amplifying the volume, and volume, of crickets I heard in the days after she passed. She told Danielle, “I chirp,” and showed an image of a megaphone. It’s true! The crickets were louder in the days following her passing. I haven’t been in my home long enough to grow numb to the sounds of it, but already that chorus is quieter than those first astounding nights. It was deafening!

Danielle was quite amazed herself by the moments Cricket and I were describing, and Cricket said to her, “Well, it’s all real, Danielle!”

“I don’t doubt that it’s real,” she chuckled.

Cricket told her she knows that most people don’t often believe or understand.

Cricket also told Danielle that sometimes humans who are in distress at the passing of another “almost un-gel” from their bodies. According to Cricket, that’s why Penny sat on me like she did those first three mornings. If I hadn’t had to get up, she’d have stayed there all day. Normally, she’d wake me and then head straight for her food after a cuddle and a kiss or two. I love her for holding me.

It’s so Penny to do so. In our first meeting with Danielle, Penny said it was her job to care for the grounds, to sweep energy. She did “rounds” several times a day, walking through every room but one in Jax’s house. (That was a curious detail to get right.)

I’ve always called her The Queen. I teased her that it’s all hers, everything under the sun. In fact, it’s hers because it’s her job. She’s proud of her work and takes it seriously.

I’m glad it’s her job to take care of me. Oh, Penny. You started it all, this feline magic.

Danielle was so supportive and validating. She said that the three of us are co-creating all of this together, and we have a beautiful connection that she appreciated witnessing.

I’m so grateful for her. It was everything I wanted and more.

Cricket’s paw print arrived just days before the reading, perfectly cricky, just like her.

Cricket's paw print

At first glance, I didn’t like it. You can tell she’s not pushing back and her claws are wonky. It quickly grew on me. It suits her. She was always just a little “off.” She reminds me of my disheveled high school English teacher, whose slip was always showing. Oh, my sweet Cricket.

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Nightsong

It’s been a week without my little Cricket. While she was alive, I’d kiss and sweet-talk her during the night – when I could hear the crickets singing – and tell her how she got her name. I met her at 12-hours old, writhing and squeaking with her litter of mostly black sisters (and one gray tabby 😉 ).

I was smitten instantly. There’s something so enchanting about a black cat!

There were two, The Twins, we called them. Then there was Boots, and she was hard to pass up. Pretty little tuxy with 3 white boots and one sloppy little stocking falling down her ankle. One day she was standing in the kitchen in the sunlight and even her little whiskers were white, glowing in the hot sun! I was close to choosing her that day.

But I knew I wanted my little black kitty cat, and I knew her name was Cricket. I don’t know why, but they just looked and sounded like little bugs writhing in the night when I first saw them, and my kitty’s name was Cricket.

For several weeks, I went to my friend’s house and played with them. One day, one twin jumped up on the bed. I asked her, “Are you Cricket?” and held her to my face. She meowed in reply, the highest, silliest little mew you ever heard!

Right after her, the other twin followed. “Or are you Cricket?” I picked her up.

When she answered, my heart sang! “Rawwwr.”

It couldn’t even be called a meow! It was just a squeak, higher than her sister’s or any kitten call I’d heard before. In my mind, I could see the fine hairs of a cricket’s wings rubbing together to make that scratchy, chirping melody.

We locked eyes, and it was her! She was my Cricket!

I ran to my friend. “I can tell them apart! This is Cricket! This is my Cricket!”

The next week, I went over and my friend asked, “Which one is Cricket again?”

I picked them each up, made eye-contact, and answered. “Her.”

“Good.” He and his girlfriend smiled conspiratorially.

“Why?” I asked.

The girlfriend picked Cricket up and showed me a patch of tiny white hairs that had popped up on her belly that week. Not a white spot, just 3-5 hairs. They considered that a flaw. She wasn’t pure black.

She was perfect!

Even after I claimed her, even after I “met” her, eye to eye, I tried to talk myself out of taking her home. My boyfriend teased me daily. “Just because you’ve gone koo koo kitty crazy doesn’t mean you need two.”

“You’re right. Of course, you’re right. I don’t need two cats! Penny’s happy and so am I.” But my family was incomplete without my baby Cricket.

We were a fine trio.

****

Penny searched for her all day Monday, which was strange, really. Cricket’s spent plenty of overnights at the doctor. Penny had no reason to wonder, unless she knew. And she did. She knew it was different this time. She looked to me with searching eyes, round like saucers, needing an answer, meowing, meowing, searching, meowing.

“I know, honey. Your sissy’s crossed the bridge. She’s all better now, but we don’t get to have her here anymore. You don’t have to worry anymore.”

And she sure was sweet. Penny was always good at affection, but oh, she was gooey Monday night. And every morning we awoke in the old place, she was on me. That’s normal, except that it used to be that I’d wake and pet and kiss her a bit, and she’d jump off. Time for food, and getting my day started. Now, she’d stay on me all day if I let her.

****

This was a busy, wonderful week. I was glad not to put Crick through the stress of moving. In my mind, it was a short one-mile car ride to the new place. Cats hate cars. I thought that would be the only challenge for them. I forgot that before we move, my stuff had to move! It was a lot of banging, cleaning, flux, fear, noise. It was stressful on my Penny. Cricket was too sick for that.

I feel peace in my decision. I’m happy I let her go as soon as she began to suffer.

She was really sick for 4 days, and then she was free.

I miss my kitty.

During those 4 days of illness, I asked her to come to me in the nightsong of crickets. She does! She really does!

You know how you get used to the sounds of your own house and neighborhood, and stop hearing them? Well, that first night without her, last Monday, for some ungodly reason I was cold!

It’s hundred degrees in July, and 75 at night! I never turn my fan off. It’s attached to my headboard and blows on me in my almost-nothing tank top and no covers, and still I sweat through the night. For heaven’s sake, I was cold!

I put on proper jammies, pulled the covers over me, and still I was cold. At last, I turned off the fan and heard… crickets!

“Hi, fat kitty!”

The next day was Pie ‘n’ Beer Day. (Pioneer Day, if you’re a good Mormon; The rest of us get drunk.) I went to a BBQ at the neighbors across the street of my new place. In his big backyard, with old, established trees and thicket, the crickets were deafening!

The next day, I was bringing boxes over to the new place. Molly, my landlord and friend since 2009, was having dinner and drinks out back with the neighbor, who had brought leftovers. Molly had Pandora pumping through the outdoor speakers. I went inside to fill a plate and heard a cricket! A single, solitary cricket so loud it had to be inside!

“Is there a cricket in here?!” I exclaimed to myself. “Oh my god, Christie, enough!”

I went outside and said nothing of it. I’m losing my mind!

And there it was again and again and again, blasting through the speaker!

“What the hell is that?!” I demanded at last. “I’m haunted! I’m hearing crickets!”

“That’s my phone,” Molly answered. “Chris keeps texting tonight.”

How is it that I’ve never heard Molly’s phone before, and she had it connected to the speaker, of all things! Night after night after night, my sweet Cricket comes to me in a new way. “Mom, I’m here. You asked me to come, and I did.”

I dreamed of her Wednesday! She was only 2 days gone. It was a very physical dream, with weight and body. I could feel her. She bit me, hard. She liked to nibble my arm while I petted her, like she was grooming me for little vermin or something. It never hurt, of course, her little love nips. That’s what she did in this dream, only hard.

It didn’t hurt at all or break the skin, but it was a fantastic, dream-variety bite that I could FEEL. She’s with me. I knew that’s what she wanted me to know from that dream.

And then I was finished moving, sitting out alone on my beautiful back patio, illuminated in the dark, listening to the nightsong of my new home. It’s so loud and melodious. It’s such a beautiful place to sit and reflect on our lives together, heal from the loss of her physical companionship, and celebrate our spiritual relationship.

She’s with me forever, I can trust that! I guess there was a part of me that feared I wouldn’t feel her or know if I felt her, or give myself permission to feel her.

I couldn’t hide from her if I wanted to!

“Sing our song at night, honey. Make me hear you.” Boy, does she!

“Thank you, sweet girl. You always were a very good kitty.”

I miss my Cricket.

cricket's memorial

Cricket’s Memorial on the mantel of the fireplace of my new home. She’ll be with me by the fire, after all. Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

From old, established trees and thicket
Sings the song of my sweet Cricket 

That couplet happened quite accidentally in the prose above. 🙂

Oh, my Cricky. How I love you.

patio

Welcome to Christie’s Corner! (Finally, a place to display my Queen of Hearts caricature from the set of Guys & Dolls, haha!)

Penny explores the new house, luxuriates all over. She’s out-of-place yet, but I think it was wise, quite by accident, to move so quickly after Cricket’s passing. There’s no reason to search for her in our new home. She was never here to be missed.

She is talking more, it seems. Penny was always vocal, but she has a lot to say right now. Out of place? Is she asking about her sissy?

“It’s just the two of us, honey. You don’t even remember when it was the two of us.”

Penny started limping a couple of months ago. It comes and goes, and she’s still jumping to and from tall perches. I hoped it was just an ache. We’ve earned a rheumatism now and then. 2 weeks ago, it became worrisome to watch.

I was prepared for Cricket to go. Her whole life, she was sick with random, bizarro this-n-that. I never thought of Penny as mortal!

I have a sense of panic in the pit of my stomach. I’m trying to release it. It’s okay to be scared. With Cricket’s traumatic illness and passing, of course I’m raw and frightened. I never prepared myself for Penny’s mortality.

I’m not ready.

She sees the doc on Thursday.

“You’re my old kitty now, honey. My Pretty Penny. We’re old women, you and me.”

Little Black Magicat

Cricket’s at peace, and so am I.

Yesterday, Cricket told me she doesn’t need to come with us to the new house.

I regret not realizing my dream of holding her by the fire. I imagine she’ll be there with me sometimes, but there’s nothing like the furry, warm body of a big fat belly cat.

I walked to my car in a daze with her empty carrier. I turned the engine to hear John Florence announce the time. (He’s the only host on KRCL to do that.) 9:11, her birthday.

I got on the freeway, directly behind a license plate beginning with 999 – end of a cycle – as the song that started when I turned the key began its opening lyric.

Sliding on the shimmering surface between two worlds
Standing at the center of time as it uncurls
Cutting through the veil of illusion
Moving beyond past conclusions
Rendering all doubt and confusion clear

If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere right now
I would want to be here

– Jackson Browne

cricket's pillow

She had a beautiful, peaceful passing on her pillow in my arms. She purred the whole time. I buried my face in her neck and told her how much I love her. “You’re a good kitty.”

saying goodbye

Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

Sinte

I started drumming a of couple years ago to fill the void that leaving African dance left. The community is so joyful and supportive that I forced my body to “fight through it” far longer than Fibromyalgia wanted me to.

When I left African, I felt like a failure. I was lazy, something was wrong with me – something else, something real, something wanting in my nature, not my body. My body was always strong. I’m young. If I “can’t” do it, it’s because I’m not eating right. I’m still partying. I’m just not talented enough.

Yes, that’s all true. I’d be better at African if I’d stop all those things, but I could still rally. African dance wore me so bare, I was my authentic self. I didn’t want to let it go.

So I drum now, to keep my tie with the community. There’s just something about it that keeps me coming back for more, even when I’m not very good at it. It’s happy, and it feels good to brave failure. I can’t think of anything else I’ve found where I don’t demand perfection from myself. I’m excited by success and improvement, but I don’t need it.

It’s nice to enjoy something something authentically.

I started belly dancing. I think that’s the recipe. Drum for African dance. Move my body elsewhere, somewhere gentler, more lyrical, equally challenging. Belly dance is the perfect fit, and there’s so much room for me to level up!

I give myself permission to have autoimmune disease.

Today, we played Sinte in class. We don’t do that often, and I’m not that good. Drumming is hard! I go for the simplest background rhythm and hold on for dear life.

But Quinn pushed me. “You know this!”

“Okay!” I agreed. It was deep down somewhere, back when I was taking lessons.

I know this!

I remembered the dance. I could feel it in my body, and I did remember once – long ago – learning the rhythm in Quinn’s class.

By damn, I figured it out! It was a huge high, and I barely held on. I did well enough that when I fell off the beat, he harassed and teased me. (If I sucked utterly, he’d correct me and continue to lead.) I laughed a lot today.

It was a great break from the pain of Cricket’s emergency 2 days ago.

Cricket is at the end of her life. Of course I know that. She’s 14 years old in September, OBESE, and sick with random everything all her life, that sweet alien. A respectable, healthy feline life is 12-15 years. She’s given everything she has.

I have a vision. Perhaps it’s selfish. I just want to keep my little kitty until the first cold snap. I want to build a fire in our forever home, their last home, and cuddle with them by the fire. I want to love my girls by the hearth of our home.

After that, whenever she’s ready to go, I’m ready, too. I want Lap of Love to put her gently to sleep on her own pillow, while I thank her for spending her unexpectedly long life with me. Please don’t die under my bed tonight, in pain and frightened, blind from ketoacidosis. Let me hold you in my arms by the fire.

“Thank you for being my baby. Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you making me a mother. Thank you for teaching me love.”

I feel guilty. I can see that she’s tired. She used to be so grabby, I had to be careful not to get scratched when I took my hand away from a long spell of affection and sweet talk. Now, all the the strength she has to to give is the flick of her tail. And she gives it.

She gave me her everything.

Hold on, sweet love. I’m not asking for long. I know you’re ready to go.

Please give me a cold snap of weather. I want to snuggle by the fire.

My Cricket is dying. cricket in the er
cricket in the er 2

Oh Happy Day!

Cricket stabilized!

Happy summer! My little black magicat is healthy again!

Five was the magic number. I knew it almost immediately. Something about the way she moved was… brighter, stronger. I really can’t say what it was, but I knew. I started asking her 2 days after another insulin increase,”Was 5 the magic number? Are you all better? I think it is! Five is the magic number!”

By the time her next expensive appointment rolled around (every 2 weeks for 2 months!), I wasn’t as sure. She’s still drinking a massive amount of water. Despite that, her glucose is in the healthy range, and we are left with instructions to watch her and test again in 6 months.

The vet said she was feisty today, hooray! She has fight, energy, spirit! Now Cricket hisses when they poke her, but she still purrs as soon as she’s petted. She’s the sweetest kitty in the world, and she’s healthy!

Happy day! Happy summer!

Oh my gosh! It’s Penny birthday today! She’s 14. Cricket will be, too, on Sept. 11th.

Pet Psychic

I had another appointment with Danielle Tremblay of Insight With Animals on Friday. I first met with her 2+ years ago when Penny was having some territorial issues with Ollie, picking fights and using his litter box. Basically, she ratted me out and told Danielle that I didn’t clean her litter box every day, ha! Her logic was that Ollie, being an outdoor cat, left his box unused… for her. I got her her own box – She didn’t want to share with Cricket – and she did actually let up on Ollie a bit. There were still little dominance charges from time to time, but she was much more chill.

This time I wanted to speak mostly with Cricket. We saw the vet again Thursday. She’s still not stable, which I knew, and up to 5 units of insulin now. My sweet kitty absolutely broke my heart when Danielle described her as “putting her paw on [my] face and begging [me] to get this balanced. She doesn’t feel good.” She does exactly that! Puts her paw on my face and looks at me with the most pleading eyes.

It’s so interesting when I’m speaking with the psychic. The cats go crazy. They’re so intent on the conversation. Penny meows and meows. It’s hilarious. You can hear her on the recording. Cricket locks her gaze on me, like, “Get it? Did you get it? Can you hear me?”

Yes, honey. I’m trying.

She said she understands that I’m working on it, but she told the psychic that she’s being very patient and wants me to fix it soon. She has a stomachache. She told Danielle she had a bad day 3 days before the phone call, and that was right. She was so tired her eyes were heavy and glazed, and she sat in the cat box to pee… all over herself. I still can’t get the caked litter off the back of her legs. She’s so tired of me poking and pulling at it. I’ve given up, and I asked Danielle how Cricket feels about that mess being stuck to her for the time being. She doesn’t like it but, “See, I have to sit,” she said. “I’m just so tired. Some days I feel like I’m dragging my body around.”

She did tell Danielle she was content to stay “in body” for now while I continue to figure out her dose. I spoke with Karel at Peace With My Life, who helped me feel confident about behaviors that are good indicators of the day when Cricket will tell me she’s ready to go. For now, she’s willing to stay, and my only focus in life is to get her comfortable.

From there, we moved on to the move. I’m staying in Salt Lake City. I’ll probably never leave. It’s home and I love it, so there. Get over yourself, Christie.

I was concerned about the girls going through another stressful change with Cricket’s health causing so much discomfort and anxiety for them both. Through Danielle, I helped them understand that the new apartment is only a mile away, so the drive itself will be brief. And, oh, what awaits you when we arrive, my darlings!!!

I’ve been trying to get into this apartment for years! I asked Cricket specifically to please hang on ’til Christmas, because we have a fireplace! I want her to spend potentially her last winter cozying up with Penny and me in front of our beautiful fireplace! Did you hear? I HAVE A FIREPLACE!

fireplace

My friend’s cat last winter in front of what is now my fireplace.

And windows, Penny! So many windows! (Some with stained glass!) It will take weeks to determine which is your favorite perch for watching squirrels and birds and people, cats, dogs, and the dancing shadows of leaves and green…

Cricket said, “That sounds fine, but is it our home?”

“No,” I answered, “but it will feel like it. It’s all ours, just us. It will feel like home.”

Penny’s first concern was windows, even though I’d already made such a fuss. Her focus shifted, then, to the couch. She asked if we’d have a couch! It was a clear picture, Danielle said, replete with decorative pillows. I laughed and laughed, because I didn’t bring our couch when we moved last fall. I miss cuddling with her there.

She emphasized again and again the importance of “her” couch. It touched my heart. I couldn’t believe she missed our cuddle time, too.

It wasn’t until sometime later in the day, after I’d processed the reading, that I realized was she was saying. My heart broke. I realized then what Cricket meant, too, when she asked if we were going home. They were talking about Jax’s house.

Yes, Penny cuddled with me sometimes while I watched TV, but she spent most of her time in the window on the back of a sofa that no one used. It was more repository for pretty cushions than sitting area. Indeed, it was her couch. That was the home Cricket meant. They’re homesick.

The good news is that it doesn’t get better than where we’re going. It’s the best place I’ve ever lived. It’s east of downtown. (In the SLC, that reads “desirable.”) Long-term residential neighbors visit daily. It’s the most beautiful avenue in Salt Lake, a little one-way side street you hardly see. It’s like a private, hushed, chirping village with city amenities at the end of the block. Dappled leaves meet overhead in the middle of the road. The entire road. (Have I mentioned my obsession with leaves?!)

The workmanship in this home is ridiculous! It’s maintained, CLEAN, and designed with love. It’s rich and warm, saturated. It’s exactly my aesthetic. My belongings were made for this space, like we’ve been together forever. And I’m going to stay there forever! At least until my babies pass, and then who knows?

I guess I’ll have to make good on all those threats I made to be an interesting person “if I don’t have a family by the time the kitties go,” and hit the road. Gah. At 50, with a stout, lazy Taurus streak, it will be hard to leave anything, much less home. I’ve never felt more at home than I do in this place, and I got it! My dream! It’s mine! I’m so lucky.

I want Cricket to see Christmas. I want 4 or 5 years more with Pen. I’m taking them home, to comfy, cozy and rest, and I want them to enjoy it for the rest of their lives.

(P.S. I have a hot tub, too!!! Cricky does need a bath…)

Feline Diabetes

The day I came home from Texas last month, I knew that Cricket was unwell. My vet let me bring her in immediately. Several hours and tests later, she was diagnosed with diabetes. Though I did have that momentary feeling of being hit by a truck and my eyes misted briefly with tears, I knew simultaneously it had been a matter of time. She’s an old, obese cat. So what do we do now?

I went home with Vetsulin and orders to give her 2 units every 12 hours. The first 2 shots were nerve-wracking, and then I was a pro! Nothin’ to it. It was trickier to determine the right time of day to administer the dose. We landed on 6:30, so I’m able at least to date and go to performances, dinner, etc. (Mornings, I reset the alarm for an hour later. 😉 )

Other than that, I found myself oddly relieved to be off the hook for any upcoming shows or travel. Go out of theatre on a high note, and recover financially from trips I couldn’t afford in the first place. I’m no longer available to rehearse, and I can’t trust anyone to give my sweet girl a shot. (She doesn’t emerge anyway, ’til after a sitter has poured the food, cleaned the litter, and gone. They wouldn’t find her to treat her. Cricket’s not interested in any other human than me.) (I’ve always loved that about her.)

We settled neatly into life at the end of the road. Nightly “claw talk” turned more tender, as I reminded her how profound and special she’s been to me, how grateful I am for her willingness to teach and love me. “Give me 2 to 4 years,” I said again and again, “and let me know when you’re ready. As long as you’re comfortable. Just let me know.”

In fact, I knew that 4 years was a stretch. For any cat, 17 is a good, advanced age, and Cricket has been plagued by bizarro health problems since birth, from the innocuous – chronic pink eye – to the horrifying. I’ll never forget finding her at 2 months in a grand mal seizure. I’ve never seen anything so awful in my life. She had several mini seizures in the following days, where she just plopped and glazed over. She listed to the left for over a week after that. I cried on the phone to my mother, “I don’t care if she lives 3 months or 3 years. I’m just going to love her while I have her.”

And here we are at 13. Here’s the thing: I knew we’d stepped onto the end of the road. And though I’ve promised her for years that I would understand somehow when she was, in fact, telling me she’s ready to go, I thought we had some road yet to walk.

Cricket will not stabilize. Follow up visits show ever-higher glucose. Increased insulin – We’re up to 4 units now – and prescription food don’t slow its progress. She can’t get enough water and misses the litter almost entirely. Puppy pads are the order of the day. Is she happy with this quality of life?

When is when? I’ve been begging since her most recent appointment, “Please, Cricket, one more year. I’m not ready.”

She seems happy. She seems comfy. She’s more visible in the apartment than ever. She’s always been a bedroom kitty, but since her diagnosis she comes out to sit near me while I eat or watch TV. She even jumped up on the ottoman that long ago became too high to use as a step into our marriage bed. (By turns, I accuse her of wishing to devour me – “If you were a big cat, you’d eat me” – and mate me – “You’re not just gay; You’re interspecies gay!” She loves it! Just PURRRRRRS, kisses harder, and pulls at my face [but never claws]. Eventually, I have to hide my mouth under the covers to keep skin on my lips. After a few shoves onto her pillow, my lover acquiesces and cuddles down for the night, my catty bedfellow.) (It’s worth noting here that she’s too fat to lick her own ass, so it’s not as gross as one might think… though no cat person thinks it is and no non-cat person could be convinced otherwise.)

Point being, I don’t know where we are. We have another costly appointment Tuesday to tell me what I already know: She’s not stabilized. I might be free sooner than I think, and it’s the most devastating freedom I’ve ever imagined.

How can it be the end? How could it go so quickly? How can I live without her?penny and cricket

claw talk

Claw Talk… Here, you can see evidence of yet another freak medical issue – aural hematoma (requiring surgery) – and the resulting “cricky” left ear. It suits her.

early cricket

Early Cricket… Remember back when we used to scan actual photos? I still find this shot so enchanting. It’s gentle, like she is.

sitting up

Purely for comedy… In fact, her gaze is tender. She just doesn’t like the camera. Cricket is a very sweet cat. Penny’s more “attitudinal,” which I also love.