Both let you know you’re alive and both take their toll and teach you what heartbroken is on a whole different level. You can become amazingly good at crying, completely unglued, and sometimes, you can hide it so well… Me, I’m still in the crying and unglued stage. My face is red and raw and my eyes are swollen. I haven’t eaten and I don’t want to. And… it’s all because of a cat. One of our cats. The sweetest cat I’ve ever had, that I’ve ever met.

This is Bits, but we call him Boo Bear…and he was diagnosed yesterday with lymphoma. This picture was taken two weeks ago when no one knew anything was wrong.

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Cancer sucks. Be it in a human or an animal, it sucks.

We adopted Bits when he was a baby in a shelter. The first day we met him, he curled up in my daughter’s arms and went to sleep. He chose us, at least that’s the way we’ve always looked at it. That was 10 years ago.

He’s always loved being brushed and he has always come running when there’s tuna being opened or roast chicken being cleaned off the bone. He used to sleep at my feet under the covers when he was little and he has always adored boxes.

A week ago, he was the picture of health, but now he breathes with difficulty and will only lick ice cubes from my hand to get water. 10 days ago he was running through the house, sitting in the window, or stretched out in a large box sleeping. He lays on my kitchen table now but barely sleeps. Does he know the end is near? I don’t know if he does or not. But it’s enough and it’s too much that I know and it’s broken my heart. No one lives forever, not even our animals.

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My grandfather died from non-Hodgkins lymphoma and bone cancer. He lived 9 years after the initial diagnosis and we had time to make some memories, to spend together, to remind one another how much love there was between us. I miss him every day and it took about a year for me to be able to talk about him without tears streaming down my face. I was there at the end and it was something I needed to do.

My cat won’t live 9 more years. Not 9 months. Maybe not 6. Likely not even 3.

It’s painful, this knowledge. Life doesn’t stop just because he’s dying. I’d sure like it to though.

I wear my emotions on my sleeve more than most. I can turn into a blubbering mess with little provocation. Animals are my weak spot. They are no less deserving of a good home, of good care, of love than a human being. They don’t deserve our cruelty. They are living, breathing creatures and bring so much to our lives when we let them.

Bits has brought us years of joy and I hope we can make whatever time he has left as comfortable as possible. He is like one of my children. We’ve raised him, fed him, cared for him, nursed him when he was sick, played with him, snuggled with him. So, I’ll sit here with him for as long as this is where he chooses to rest. He deserves to feel that love every moment he has left, up until the very end.

~lissa