Loved, full and warm

I slept uninterrupted last night. For the entire night. But I would have rather had to wake up every 4 hours to a gray-love-fluff, purring and clawing her way closer to a bottle. At 2 weeks old, she already licked fingers and moved closer to my voice. She was figuring out how to walk on her back legs and liked to curl into pockets or your neck while you laid in bed.
But yesterday, all day, I sort of knew when they said “severely low white blood cells” and “we are very concerned,” she probably wouldn’t make it another 24 hours. She made it another 8.
At 9:30 they called and said she was having trouble breathing – that it could either be fluid induced because they were pumping her with antibiotics and other various things to break her fever, in which case they could give her lasix OR she could have pneumonia, but they’d need to do an X-ray to make sure. They kept saying “we are very concerned,” which is never a good thing.
When they called back, no matter what it was, her lungs looked terrible and they could keep going if I wanted them to, but…
We both agreed. I went in at 10 pm right as they were closing and signed mass cremation papers which is an awful way to explain something even if it’s written on paper and then we went into an exam room to say goodbye.
They brought her in in a giant teal towel – the little pea in a mattress – and warned us about the catheter knifing out of her neck. When they unwrapped her, it looked like her head was attached with a large white piece of athletic tape. It reminded me of an old ghost story book I had where a young girl tied a black ribbon around her neck and no one knew why until the day she untied it and her head fell off. My poor little thing. She was trying to wobble to us and around the table on already unsteady legs, her little black eyes turning blue around the edges exposing her color if she’d just had more time. It was a quick goodbye, I couldn’t bear to let it linger, so when we wrapped her back up and she put her head down to go to sleep, Pat informed the front desk we were ready.
They asked if we wanted to watch. God, no.
On the way out they handed me a pack of kleenex, saying how sorry they were, they did everything they could, they were so rooting for her while this cape of grief trailed behind me. We only had her for 2 weeks, but damn, on that first day that little cat lodged herself in me.
They said it was an infection. And when they are so young, the only thing that can protect them is their mother’s milk. It holds all the antibodies they could possibly need. She could have gotten sick from anything: a towel, the floor, a finger, blanket, air, hair, milk, napkin.
I looked at her in the early stages of her being ill and wondered: if I stare long enough and will enough love into her, could she get better? And why if they can make human babies in tubes, can’t they make antibodies for kittens?
This cat was clearly meant to be ours from the moment it’s mother hid them in Pat’s engine and so I thought that meant she was meant to be ours for a long time; that we’d get to at least see her turn into one of those big fluffy kittens bounding around the apartment with Tula looking on in horror. We didn’t even get to see her ears stand up all the way. But she could hear us and see us and as Pat’s mom said: any cat that’s loved, full and warm has had a perfect life, no matter how long.

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