Resting in peace?

img_7830The first day of writing this blog was also the last day of life of Myfanwy Lovebug, aka Ffani, my beautiful feline friend, who from our first day together expressed herself as a unique being, escaping from the cat carrier no more than ten minutes into our journey from North Wales to Nottingham. She spent the rest of the journey calmly settled on the rear shelf of the car. Once arrived, she proceeded to explore the living room, without any hesitation or hiding. That same night, she came upstairs to bed with me, snuck under the covers to cuddle with me, spoon-fashion, resting her head on the pillow next to mine.

Throughout the three years that we lived together, she kept up this adorable, comforting habit most nights, even when in recent months, I had to pick her up and bring her upstairs, she still chose to walk over to whichever side I was facing and snuggle in with me. One of the nicknames I gave her was dog-cat, because she seemed to have qualities of both species in relation to humans, frequently following me around the house, wanting to be close to me, happt to see me when I returned from being away and even giving me little licks of affection. Those are the things I will miss most about this big-eyed, big-hearted little character.

Feeling sad for my loss, I am also happy that she had a good and long life, loved by each of her various human companions, and she’s had a few! Even our vet observed her to be rather special.

She was first ill in mid-December, when she had stopped eating and on examination, was found to have a large lumpy mass in her abdomen. At that time, it looked likely that she would only have a couple of weeks at most. I chose not to investigate, but accepted her receiving an injection of steroids.

After a weekend of crying and cuddling with her, I had decided not to prolong the agony, to take her to be put to sleep. Imagine my surprise when the vet checked her and found no sign of a lump at all.

We knew that the remission wouldn’t last long, but for a few weeks on steroids and a prescription diet, she perked up remarkably, eating like a demon and putting on sorely needed weight, returning to leap up onto my bathroom cabinet, which she’d become arthritically unable to do for the past year. I admit I felt envious of her temporary rejuvenation and thought longingly of my crazily excitable and energetic days on steroids. But finally, she couldn’t eat again, even her favourite tuna pâté. She went to sleep peacefully and I buried her with tenderness and gratitude.

It may seem odd, even disconcerting to start a blog with a death. But there was something of Ffani’s illness journey that felt reminiscent of my own, albeit with a different outcome for now. It also feels hugely pertinent to writing a blog about living in remission from a supposedly incurable life-threatening disease. Death and living are so inextricably linked; I cannot really appreciate the latter without acknowledging the former. Like Myfanwy, in my remaining life I hope to enjoy the leaping and eating, but also learning how to rest in peace with myself.

And what better day to start this blog than unknowingly on the sixth anniversary of my previous blog!

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