It’s quiet in the house. The low hum of my computer’s fan is gentle white noise — like a cozy warm blanket for my mind. Rumblings of the furnace kicking off break the silence and snap me back to reality.
It’s a gray day outside — foggy, drizzling, with showers coming and going with each passing hour. There’s still a distinct chill in the air, as though spring can’t make up it’s mind, although I know summer can’t be far behind.
The table is set.
These words are written.
It’s the perfect day for the bad news I prayed would never come.
It’s hard not to feel just overwhelming sorrow when you first discover someone you’ve known for 14 years is dying. That’s what I’m feeling right now — just this dark, depressing and endless hole where my heart is. I suspect it’s not going to go away anytime soon.
As friendships go, his has been one of the best in my life. We first met when I lived in Ohio, when I really needed a friend at the time. I had just broken off my engagement, and so times were emotionally a little rough. He was there when I needed someone, and he never complained or tried to change my mind.
He was much younger then, but he grew up fast. The thing with his kind of friendship was that he never asked for much, and he was always willing to lend you his ear. He followed me across the country… not just once, but every time I moved. First to Austin, then to Boston. He was always there for me, giving unconditional love.
We spent a lot of time together, and grew older and older as the years went by. He’s mellowed out as he’s grown older, and I guess if I’m honest with myself, I have too. Our time together turned from play and fun times, to a more quiet kind of understanding and solitude, sharing the same space or room with each other. He was often just happy to hang around while I did other things, or we both watched TV, or played on the computer. Truth be told, I was happy to have him around no matter what we did together.
He was my rock in this ocean of life.
The troubles started back in October of last year. He was having trouble breathing some times. He would behave like he was choking on something, and at first I thought, “It’s probably nothing.” Maybe he should see a doctor? Medicine didn’t seem to help, so he went to the doctor and eventually ending up having an ultrasound for his heart.
He was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy with severe biatrial enlargement. According to the specialist, this is not good. He was placed on some medication to hopefully slow down his deterioration, but he wasn’t expected to live long… A few months… maybe even another year if we were lucky.
It’s nine months later, and he’s dying more quickly now. He’s not long for this world now, as today we learned his kidneys are failing.
So now, at my desk, I sit here and look at the latest test results and can’t help but cry. The numbers and medical words and everything just make it real. I can’t even bring myself to look at him.
He’s dying and I’ll miss him more than almost any one else or anything else in the world. Trite as it may sound, he’s meant the world to me.
Max has been my constant companion now for 14 years. He’s always been there for me. Knowing that his death is so certain in the close future (as opposed to some far-off date years and years from now) is a hard pill to swallow.
Does he know?
I can’t say for certain, but I think he does. He’s far less talkative than he used to be even just a few months ago. He sleeps a lot more often, and is far less likely to pick a fight with one of our other cats.
They say there are two types of people in this world — cat people and dog people. But what they have in common is that both types of people feel a special bond with their pet, and grieve their loss (even if they don’t always show it, because society generally seems to have funny feelings about such grief).
I don’t want him to die (do we ever want a loved one to die?)… But I have to accept the inevitable now. Sooner than I had expected. He’s been a good friend and I just want to make sure he has a good death.
That’s all we can ever ask of this world — to be a good friend and to have a good death. I hope it’s enough.
Read more about cardiomyopathy here.
Max in better times.