It's true what they say about our pets: that we learn more from them than they do from us. It's certainly the case with our old cat Lulu. She has not been beautiful for a long time, she wheezes, she sneezes, she has pooped on the carpet for about eight years (I need to write a really glowing review of my Spotbot on Amazon - it's the hardest working machine out there), and she has the most unpleasant "meow" you've ever heard.
But she has taught me so much. About asking for what you need, about telling people what you need and about TAKING what you need if people aren't listening to you. She started the pooping business when Joe-Henry was about four months old. Right in front of his changing table. I stepped in it. We've taken her to the vet at least once a year for the last eight, with the vet saying, "well, I don't know what to tell you. there's nothing physically wrong with her". And you'd think that we'd maybe give up on her, or try to give her away, or find her a home where she could just sit on someone's lap and be petted non-stop until she got tired of it and moved. I'd be lying if I said we'd never even think of such a thing. Truth is, we did try once to find her a new home. It was right before we moved. We thought she wouldn't be able to handle the changes of a long trek. I put up an ad on Craigslist, but got nothing but grief, so after an hour I took it down. She was, for better and worse, our cat. I couldn't let those nasty people have her. Yes, she was a crabby mess, but she was our crabby mess. She drove in the car with my husband who headed up a month before Joe-Henry and I. She crapped in the car twenty minutes into a two-day drive. The car still smells nasty. Not like poop, but not like anything good, either.
Joe-Henry has been her savior on more than one occasion. We've all been driven to moments of madness by her messes. Especially dear Charley, who shares a bathroom with her. He has had the lion's share of cleaning to do. But even he loves her. He has given her his heart, and she has given hers to all of us, as well. If it doesn't come wrapped in a satiny bow, well so be it. It is what it is, and she is who she is, and that's just been our life with her. She still gets on our bed every night, she still snuggles up at story time with Joe-Henry, we all stroke her mangy head and love her and tell her she's beautiful. Then she usually wheezes and sneezes and yells at us to pet her better and more. And we comply.
But the last few weeks, there has been something different about her. She seems confused. She's gotten much skinnier. Even though she has missed the litter box for eight years, she has always managed to keep things in the vicinity of it. But not lately. She's bringing her business upstairs, and this morning I found a big mess in Joe-Henry's room. And the bathroom. And the hallway.
I didn't feel angry at her, I just felt like she was telling me it was time. She's unhappy and in pain and done.
So this afternoon we are taking her in to the vet. We're saying goodbye as I type this. Joe-Henry is petting her, and I will have a good amount of time with her too. As frustrating as our relationship has been, I love her so much. And I will miss her wheezy old self.
Lulu, I have learned so much from you. Thank you for that.