It has been a rough twenty-four hours. My cat Hafiz has been trying to pee in anything but the litter box, which usually means he has a UTI. For two hours last night I listened to him rummage in my shoes, the bathtub and on the computer printer straining to “go.” In the morning, I found little pools of blood and he had missed the litter box entirely.
We immediately went to the vet for I also have a plane to catch this afternoon. And of course the Rock N’Roll marathon had all the streets near my vet blocked off so I carried him for many blocks in his carrying case. If he wasn’t already freaked I’m sure the sound of cheering and live music gave him a mini panic attack.
I have another cat, Rumi who has only been to the vet one time in his life. He never has health problems. They are both the same age and from the same mother but one has “conditions” whereas the other does not.
I know all of this pales in comparison to what parents of humans go through. Parents rush their kids to the ER for broken bones and concussions. Some parents even have to bail their kids out of jail every now and then. But my pets are my substitute children and medical problems of senior kitties can be frustrating and complicated. Every time I leave the house for work I am plagued with guilt. “Are Hafiz’s health problems caused from stress? Am I the reason he has these medical issues?” How do parents go to work each day leaving their kids in the care of a nanny or baby sitter? I can barely trust how Hafiz will do with a cat sitter.
Recently a friend reminded me of the beautiful book “Le Petit Prince” in which the fox tells the prince, “You become responsible for whatever you tame.” How we all need to tame each other and have that connection. “But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.” And so I tame Hafiz and Rumi and they tame me. And it is a hassle yet as the fox says of love, “It is the time you have lost for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
As I anticipate the day Hafiz will no longer be able to keep on keeping on, I reflect on the profundity of love whether it is for a child, a family member or a pet. We hurt for love. Period. It is what we do.
As C.S. Lewis wrote, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”