My 16-year-old cat is having surgery tomorrow. I'm so nauseous and nervous about it, you would think that I'm the one having the operation.
So tonight, I'm typing this with one hand while the other one strokes Firefly's silky calico fur. I hope she can tell how much I love her, and that I want her to do well.
Firefly showed up as a stray kitten when I was a sophomore in college. It seemed like she picked me. I lived in a dorm and didn't have anywhere to keep her, so I stashed her at my then-boyfriend's house.
I didn't even drive yet. I rode a bus to the grocery store and picked out her first dishes, kitten kibble, little balls with jingle bells in them, and other cat stuff. The cashier had to explain to me that my new kitten wouldn't want to walk on the dog leash I'd picked out.
(Never fear. Years later, Firefly and I would hike Frick Park with the aid of a papoose. But more on that later.)
Firefly and I turned into grownups together. After college, she moved home to my parents' house with me. Our dog wanted to eat her, so I kept Firefly locked in my bedroom. She did okay in there, but she was a little starved for attention. When I got home from work at night -- my very first office job -- she'd start howling as soon as she heard me come through the front door.
I'd never had a cat before her, so I raised her like a puppy. We'd wrestle, or play fetch for hours.
She moved into my first -- terrible -- apartment with me. The one that smelled like curry and had mice living in the oven. She came with me every time I upgraded to a bigger, less disgusting place, and she also accompanied me on several beach vacations. She always took the 10-hour car ride to the Outer Banks in stride.
Firefly has been a constant presence. There were boyfriends, most of whom claimed to be allergic to her. Firefly always got first dibs on my bed anyway, and she outlasted all of them. And when I decided to embrace my spinsterhood, she was my most loyal companion -- even going for walks around the neighborhood with me, safely strapped into a papoose.
But when I found my husband, even Firefly knew it was right. She accepted him like a dad.
She was always a part of everything I did. Whether I was cleaning my apartment, lounging in front of the TV, hula hooping in my living room, or curling my hair in the bathroom, Firefly was curiously involved.
But recently, a couple things seem to have aged poor Firefly.
She hates ... absolutely hates ... our new dog. And, she didn't adapt to our most recent move as well as all the others. We moved into a house last month. I took the bedroom that used to belong to a teenage girl and turned it into a haven for my teenage girl cat. Firefly settled in to her room and doesn't really like to come out of it. It makes me so happy when I see her take tentative steps into the rest of our house.
She also got really feisty. She hisses. A lot.
It's taken almost half my life, but I've watched her change from a kitten to a little old lady.
It's sad that we grew up together, but suddenly, she's aging so much faster than me. It doesn't seem fair.
I know a day will come when we have to say goodbye, and it makes me cry just typing it.
But I can tell that she still loves me.
|Firefly, 10 minutes ago, proving that she's still got it.|
This is my little prayer for you, Firefly. Please do well during your surgery tomorrow. Please come home to me.
I love you.