Today’s post is going to be a little different than what I normally write about, but it’s something I felt like I needed to share in its entirety to continue healing my heart. It’s the story of my lightly-striped marmalade-colored tabby cat who lost his second battle with cancer exactly two years ago (March 2, 2013).
His name was Charlie and he was a very special gift for my 7th birthday. He had been rescued and brought to our local veterinarian’s office as an adult (approx. 3 years old), so his kittenhood still remains a mystery to us.
Not long after we adopted him, we found a golf ball-sized lump on his neck. It turned out to be a malignant tumor that needed to be removed with surgery… and his prognosis was not good. He was given a small chance of survival, but ended up completely pulling through and fully recovering despite all the odds.
Our bond strengthened and deepened after he recovered (especially over the years as my lap became wider and easier for him to curl up on). He was a constant in my life for those incredible thirteen or so years. I knew he’d always be waiting for me on my bed when I got home from school. He’d never pass up an opportunity to steal food from the kitchen, and I could always expect to hear nonstop mrrrrowwwwowww-ing around mealtimes. There was never a dull moment with Charlie around.
One day in mid-December 2012 I noticed a hard lump under his arm as I was petting him. I knew almost immediately that it was serious and the realization was overwhelmingly familiar. We dealt with it right away and did unfortunately get the answer we had been dreading. Because of Charlie’s age (around 16 years) and the frailty of his body, the cancer diagnosis this time around was completely untreatable, unless we wanted to risk the little health he had left. This was not how I ever imagined the last few months of his life to be like, but there was nothing I could do to change the circumstances. I knew I had to somehow accept that this was happening so that I could fully enjoy however long I had left with him. And that I did.
An indescribable amount of calmness and courage washed over me as those last few weeks and days approached. I felt at peace, even though I was about to lose my best friend, the one living creature that was consistently there for me when others weren’t. The day before his death, the vet told me that Charlie must be in a considerable amount of pain judging by how large the tumor had grown. He never showed it. Not once did I notice any change in his personality, signs of weakness, loss of appetite, or anything to hint that there were bad cells throughout his entire body.
On this day two years ago he greeted me by racing into my room and jumping onto my lap, ready for my undivided attention. I didn’t know it then, but in just a few hours I would have to make the call I was hoping I’d never have to make.
I truly believe that God brought Charlie to me because He knew we needed each other. We were both going through different battles – his with cancer and mine with FOP – and couldn’t face them alone. This cat was such an important part of my life and still is, even after his death. I continue to find so much of my strength from his strength and for that I am eternally grateful.