Would Time Stand Still

The biggest surprise is that it comes as a surprise to me at all. I’ve known how it all will end, that it will end, and sooner rather than later. I’ve even said it out loud in my most grown-up and matter-of-fact voice. And yet  I am rocked to the core of my being.  One soon, she’ll be gone.

Looking good for an old lady.

Looking good for an old lady.


It may come as a surprise to some, but I can be very logical, even practical. Her body has begun to fail her. A diagnosis of kidney failure was our first reminder that time, as it is with all of us, was limited. “She’s an old cat,” I said. “She’s lived a good life.” We held her, I wept. I had always imagined fifteen years with her, but you get what you get, right?

Time passed. Her organ failure did not progress, and she thrived. And when she approached the magic age, when she turned 15, I thought I must be ready. I said “This may be our last Christmas with Piper.” And we gathered around to fuss, to pet her, to appreciate her for a moment. Fifteen turned into sixteen, followed much too quickly by seventeen. With each passing year, the ritual becomes less meaningful. For awhile we could believe that this scrappy cat would defy all logic and the limitations of biology and live forever. I believed it.

But time doesn’t stand still, and nothing, no one, goes on forever. She is failing still more. My wake up came three days ago as I watched her struggle to climb the stairs, her back end swaying as she tried to keep her legs under her, an issue she has never had before. That was the moment I was struck by the weight of inevitability, the moment my heart heard truth. We are going to lose her.

No matter what I said before, how logical and detached I could be, I did not believe. I believe now. Borrowed time takes on new meaning when it comes to someone you love.

She still has some fight left, her paws tapping out a playful cadence as she tries to catch the string on my jacket. She purrs. It takes little to make her happy. A warm lap, a soft stroke. She eats, both our biggest victory and our greatest fear. When she quits eating, we will know that it is time.

She is living the dream now. The cold is hard on old bones, so I heat a rice sock to warm her. She experiences privilege unknown, the lone animal invited into the inner sanctum; my bedroom. I ignore these self-imposed restrictions and my ensuing allergy attacks, and invite her under the blanket to curl up on the electric mattress cover. Her preferred perch is on my lap as I write. Not only do I comply, I insist. I take her with me when I change rooms if she is not already sleeping comfortably. I need every stolen moment I can get. To prepare.

But how do you prepare? How do you say goodbye to someone who has shared your life and your adventures for going on 18 years? I am at a loss.

I Have A Plan, and I’m Not Afraid To Use It.

I could collect another 14 of these. And dress them in little hats. And sing them songs.

My birthday is coming up soon. Less than a month. And it’s a big one. I won’t tell you which one it is because I don’t want to scare off my young hipster readers with my impending geezerdom, but let it suffice to say that it ends with a zero. And begins with a four. A big one. And with great age comes great responsibility. I know the midlife crisis is going to hit at some point in the not-so-distant future. Being a planner, I do not want let this to sneak up on me unprepared. Face it. If I don’t sort out my options before I begin to question whether or not anything I have done thus far in my life has any meaning at all, I could find myself moving to Florida and breeding lizards. As I have already bred lizards, and Florida has too many roaches, here are the choices I see thus far:

1) Boy Toys. No. I’m not talking about cougaring over at the local community college. I have a good guy already. I don’t think I have the energy to retrain another one. (Don’t worry. We established this weekend that he doesn’t actually read my blog. So you can laugh without feeling guilty. He’ll never know.) No, I am talking about actual toys. For my midlife crisis, I could go mad on Ebay and spend my life-savings on Harry Potter action figures. A friend as a life-sized Dobby that I covet. And I could spend my days knitting tea cozys for him to wear on his head. I have not ruled this one out yet.

2) Spiffy New Car. Mmm. New car smell. But Dave Ramsey, the awesome dude from whom we take financial advice, points out that new cars go down in value like a rock, so they are a terrible investment.

3) Classic Sports Car Something sleek that makes me look cool. Except that there is almost no leg-room in the back seat, no airbags at all, and can you imagine fitting a car seat in a Corvette Stingray?

4) Take Up Skydiving/Bungee Jumping Nothing says “My life has no meaning” like risking sudden death. Or at the very least soiling oneself in front of your instructor. But I’m afraid of heights. And I’m afraid the ankle cuffs might chaff. And enough people find my blog by the search term “peed pants.” I’m not sure I want that kind of traffic.

5) Have Another Baby Hanging onto youth by proving my fecundity. That’s original. And I have three already, and thus nothing left to prove in that regard. And they are expensive, which would mean fewer action figures for me. But my husband actually only reads the bold print in my blogs, and I can never pass up the opportunity to mess with him. Ever.

6) Take Up Smoking  Cigars or a pipe. Except that I am asthmatic. And smoke makes me sick to my stomach.

7) Volunteer For PTA President Really, really not that desperate.

8 ) Collect cats I think we have this one covered. We have three of them, and they own us.

9) Buy a Guitar This is the one I am leaning toward most. A folk acoustic guitar. The thing I think I will most regret if I don’t do it. Cheaper than a Corvette, for sure. I can sing pretty well. Granted,  God only gave me a single octave with which to work, but I will be the one-octave sensation sweeping the nation. And you will buy my records. And everyone will love me. At least the cats will. And they will sing with me. Because cats do that.

What other options have I missed? Husband says he’s getting a motorcycle for his midlife crisis, so I think I may be selling myself short.

A Bit of a Stretch

I have a problem. I have a physical issue that pops up from time to time that can cause nerve pain. My latest little flare-up started two or three weeks ago. But that’s not my problem. I can deal with that. Here’s my problem. The most likely way to treat the pain is yoga. Yoga. I could cry.

I know. Yoga has been around for centuries, it has helped lots of people, it’s a great way to relax. Blah, blah, blah. What’s the big deal? Please. I am about to turn the big 4-0. Tell me I have to go to a yoga class, and you might as well slap a soccer decal on the back of my mini-van and sign me up for carpool. Remember me? I fight the cliche. Correction. I fight the cliches that bore me.

Currently, my muscles are so tight that my limbs may snap off at any moment. If I could loosen up even a little bit, I would imagine I’d get some relief. It seems like a no-brainer. I’ll be the first to tell you that when it comes to admitting that there is something actually wrong with me, I have no brain. It’s not that I’m trying to be Superman, here. Heck, most days right now I’d be satisfied to be Clark Kent. He didn’t walk like a duck. But acknowledging that I have a problem feels like caving. And I don’t cave. I mentioned I am stubborn, right?

The even bigger obstacle to signing up for a class is that I am about as fond as being told what to do as your average two-year-old. You can’t make me. You can’t make me. You are not the boss of me. Or in this case, I am not the boss of me. Think that’s weird? Tell yourself you have to start a diet tomorrow and see how your inner tantrum-tosser reacts.

So where does that leave me? In the end, I am sure that logic and yoga will win the day. But I refuse to go to an actual class.  I draw the line at public humiliation. I will buck up and go to my beloved library and borrow a DVD. Reservation? Check! Library card? Check! Fake mustache? Check!