A little over two years ago, we adopted a pair of cats. We did so two weeks after losing a very special cat we had adopted as an adult. One of them is an orange and white tabby, he came with the name Morris. And it stuck, because he looks like…well…yes, Morris from 9 Lives.
A day later, the cat we had seen first, and I had known I wanted, came home. She was a half-Russian Blue with the classic coat and eyes. And all personality. She came with the name Butterfly. She was NOT a butterfly (other than the long tail). She was feisty and sassy and a petite, beautiful cat. I did the dumbest thing a writer can do. I named her for the favorite of all the characters I’ve written. Aishe.
And she lived up to the name for these last two years. Unfortunately, all that personality and life was given a high price tag. On our first visit to the vet, 2 weeks after we got her, we learned she was FLV positive. We did the reading and knew that over half of FLV positives don’t live past 3 years old. She was 1 when we took her in. She passed her third birthday two months ago, and we hoped maybe we dodged the bullet. Or at least would have her for something approaching a normal life span.
That hope went away this week. And although we haven’t had the bloodwork done yet, Wifey and I both know what it is. Loss of appetite. Lethargy. Hiding. She still seems capable of moving, and isn’t showing the markers of extreme distress. But the light’s gone from her eyes. And she doesn’t want anyone near her anymore. Morris knows it too. He’s giving her plenty of space, when normally they’d be pouncing and chasing all over the apartment.
I’m 43. I’ve seen my share of the Reaper. There’s days I think it’s got the address to my door already. Maybe I shouldn’t have named her for Aishe. Maybe it was dumb of me to get wrapped up in a pet with a known expiration date. Damn it. I don’t care. Outside my wife and our marriage, I’ve had precious few good things in those years. Fewer than is fair to a woman who’s stood beside me this long. Aishe was one of them. And maybe the happiness she gave us can carry through the hurt.
That’s always been Aishe’s refuge in my writing. To find joy in the moments of pleasure. It’s harder for me to do than it is my irrepressible, impetuous Romany. Or the cat that bore her name well.