Our bathroom is now a hospice ward in what is turning out to be a cat hospital. The patients outside of the hospice ward are low acuity; they are working through issues of obesity and anxiety, an over production of hairballs and general sense of neediness. Patient X is not working through, over, or around any issues. She exists between life and death, stuck in the moment right after the sun sets and pulls the light from the sky, slowly wasting away in a state of limbo.
I want Patient X to be comfortable and the environment is important in this goal. The window is covered; the room stays cool and dark, even during the day. Patient X no longer needs to keep her days and nights separated.
Each day, I give her a fresh dish of water and crunchy kibble. Last week, she moved the bits around with her paw to make it look like she had some interest in it. Now, it’s all she can do to turn her pink nose up at it and lay back down in her box.
I then sweep up the loose litter and scoop out the clumps and wet spots, but today, there is nothing to clean out. There is only a dying cat hiding under a soft towel in a cardboard box, neither eating nor eliminating. She watches me with dull eyes that sparkled green with curiosity and trouble not long ago; they are much like the changed eyes of my grandfather since the cancer spread through his body. He, too, is lounging about in limbo, losing time and strength as his body winds down from eighty years of constant life.
Sickness takes up space, a lot of it, especially where every nook and cranny is already filled with a knickknack or stack of books. It’s hard to prioritize and harder to understand other than that it happens. Sickness leads to a sadness that fills up rooms and houses, spills out windows and forces open doors. When the sadness has no place else to go, it shimmies and shakes its way down the road to the neighbor’s house and lets itself in through the backdoor for a season. Until then, I guess it’s here to stay.