...aren't always easy to recognize. In fact, they often have so many complexities we don't recognize the miracle part until it's long passed. I never thought I'd hear the words, and yet here they are on my answering machine; "A cat came into the shelter today and when scanned we found it had a microchip. It's George." After 13 years, someone finally found him. We were stunned. It just wouldn't sink in, but when we got to the shelter to pick him up, it was exactly his face! He was nothing more than a faded coat, covering skin and bones weighing no more than 6 pounds down from his 14 pound youthful weight, but there was no question about it - it was him. It was so surreal. The news media heard about the story and it became a huge public fascination.
Before the shock even wore off, two veterinarians referred to him as a 'train wreck' with a shake of the head only someone who has companion animals can understand. Between the shock of having him back and knowing the prognosis for a favorable recovery was slim to non-existent, it became very hard to accept. Where was the joy of reuniting with a lost pet? He's just skin and bones with problems we can't even fathom as yet. So how is this a miracle? It's more like a punishment! Yet everyone says it's a miracle...
He's so sweet and as the days pass, his personality reveals itself to be the same as the boy who left us all those years ago. I was so destroyed when he left. It's horribly bittersweet to have him back, knowing we'll be losing him again very soon. How do I accept this? What am I missing? Once again, I must care for a very sick cat who requires his most basic needs be attended to by me. But I still adore him. There's no way to get around the fact that he's my boy and trusts me absolutely.
We decided that at 16, it would be unkind to put him through the agony of extensive diagnostics, poking and prodding unless he seemed to have a desire to live. We did the basic diagnostic testing then took him home to see if he'd decide to eat and drink on his own, while we awaited the test results. He did start to eat and even to play a bit, but taking care of him - keeping enough food and enough fluids going in takes a huge toll. I've felt from the beginning of this that we needed to take one thing at a time. We decided to do the next test and after that the next because of the evidence of our eyes - he was interested and involved in the process of living.
Still everyone outside the household calls it a miracle, and it is. At a time when microchipping pets was very rare, and not an accepted practice by agencies devoted to animal care, we chose that path. Not only that, but the veterinary hospital who did the implant, which we hadn't used for several years, had a record of the chip number and which pet it was associated with. They also had our most current phone number which had changed some years prior. Any of these circumstances could have been different and we'd have never had this opportunity.
So, how to understand the sadness of the situation. A friend says events are just events. We provide the context for the events in our lives and therefore, the way we interpret the event defines the significance the event will have for us. I believe there is a reason for this event in my life. Interestingly, every one else views this specific situation from their own point of view. The miracle is unique to everyone who knows of it. Most people consider it a miracle, but each seems to see a slightly different miracle.
It's been difficult for me to make decisions for George without understanding the significance of having him back. In fact, I've been worried my decisions about him would be overly imbued with my own self-interests. Then, on Thursday we received a cancer diagnosis. I agree with my friend about context - I see this through my lens as everyone else does through theirs. I believe now this is an opportunity to help George, a profoundly good friend, to exit this life and move on to his next with dignity and peace. I do not believe I would have understood without each step leading up to the discovery of cancer. I wonder sometimes when I look at him if he wished or requested coming home to us, with the understanding that his previous circumstances would have resulted in a very painful end of days. Not that his end wouldn't be painful, but he had his own room with a private bath :) and from the first moment he entered it, he was completely at ease.
There is no cure for his disease. We chose not to extend his life by any extreme means. He was medicated with a few drugs to help ease pain, increase appetite and eliminate infection. We decided if going into the garden would shorten his time with us, at least his remaining time would be happy.
Now you know who I am...tell me, who are you?
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