Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Old, Familiar Friend

Two weeks ago today, I took my old friend Spalding to the vet, something I'd done so many times over the last sixteen years. Unfortunately, this trip wasn’t like any of the others; this time, I came home with an empty carrier.

I'd known this day was coming, but that didn't make the occasion any less sad. As it turned out, diabetes wasn’t Spalding’s worst problem—he also had a tumor on one of his hind legs. By the time we discovered it, camouflaged within his gray fur and already encroaching on his knee, the only treatment was amputation. Given Spalding’s age and medical resume, we decided to keep him comfortable instead.

He had four good months after that, which I think was more than any of us expected. His limp gradually worsened, but he still hopped up onto the couch every night and sat purring beside me while I watched TV or wrote. And that's how I'll always remember Spald: a warm, happy shape beside me on the couch.

And he actually made an excellent writing partner, except on those rare occasions when I attempted to use a pen. Spalding never met a pen he didn't want to rub his face against, so he would chase it back and forth across the page, purring and lunging and knocking my hand off course. It kinda drove me crazy sometimes. But now, of course, I miss it.