It’s very quiet in our house today. There are no deep cries coming from a cat who doesn’t seem to know where he is, calling out desperately to make a connection. There are no paws tapping on my knee for me to make room on my lap for him to curl up on. Even the other animals are subdued, perhaps sensing the change in energy.
Early this morning, we put our Sebastian to rest after he kicked renal failure’s butt for over a year. There’s still a bag of fluids hanging from my studio ceiling and four bottles of medications on the kitchen counter, including pain killers and kitty anti-depressants. It sounds bad, but all this time, he refused to cave in to the disease, which made our decision all the more difficult. He never stopped eating- in fact, he kept gaining weight instead of losing it like most CRF cats- and his affection never let up when it came to his humans, even though at times, he brutally beat up Stella, our other tuxedo.
But we noticed that the number of times he was splayed out on the floor with that devilish, full-of-life look in his eyes began to dwindle. He no longer sat on the high chair in the dining room chirping at the birds visiting the feeder on the other side of the window pane. He could no longer control his bowel movements, and we’d find little kitty terds in weird places, most recently in Zoe’s bed. And the howling. Oh, the howling.
The love we have for our animals is so complex. On one hand, it’s easy to worry that we waited too long, that he needlessly suffered. And on the other, it’s easy to worry that perhaps it was too soon, that he still had enough good days in him to make it worth the struggle.
All I know for sure is that WE DID THE BEST WE COULD OUT OF LOVE.
And really, that’s all that matters. When it comes to what’s behind us, there is no room for shame. There is no room for self-judgment or shoulda-coulda-woulda.
And so somehow it also seems quite amazingly coincidental that today is also a day on which a website was launched for a friend who was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer (what is up with kidneys lately??). Renal cell carcinoma to be exact. John Ptak and his wife Patti are some of the kindest, most giving people I know. They have become family to us in so many ways. So upon hearing this news, my heart broke in two.
The good news is that “Spot” the tumor was detected early on… but the bad news is that they are uninsured, and treatment for this type of cancer is quite expensive. This brought up quite a bit of shame for them…. even though John and Patti have both given and given and given extensively of themselves… even though they’ve made a difference in countless lives including my own, through Patti’s books and deep regard for life and John’s quirky views on science, literature, and philosophy, not to mention his ENORMOUS HEART.
Like I said, there is NO ROOM FOR SHAME.
There is only room for community. For surrendering to uncertainty. For kicking kidney cancer in the arse. And for DOING THE BEST WE CAN OUT OF LOVE.
So today, I will be not only be heading over to the newly launched website (found HERE) and donating what I can to help cover the costs of John’s healing, but I’ve also decided to auction off a piece of my art, with ALL proceeds going toward the John F. Ptak Relief Fund. It was clear which one to give… it’s the piece of pyrography that I created when my grandmother was struggling with lung cancer several years ago. It’s what brought me out of the darkness of my own grief and into the light of possibility and hope. Which is something we could all use a little more of, don’t you think?
To take a peek and place a bid, go HERE… the auction will only be live for 10 days. And in the meantime, please keep John and Patti and their daughters in your prayers. Here’s to life… and turning heartbreak into HEART WIDE OPEN.