A life well-lived

Tonight I cooked myself an egg for the first time since my cat Millie passed away at the end of January. She was nearly 20 years old, and had developed many quirks in her old age, one of them being that she grew to love cooked eggs more than any other food. My family had gotten into the habit of scooping a bit of the yolk onto a little plate for her anytime we had them.

Among her other quirks were walking into walls (being nearly blind), going outside in subfreezing temperatures to eat grass (to help her digestion), howling at odd times of day (being nearly deaf), and occasionally not quite reaching where she was trying to jump to (being arthritic). But for all her old-lady-cat troubles, she was really quite strong and happy even up to her last days. Her poor sight and hearing seemed to only motivate her more to explore – I found her in parts of the house she hadn’t dared go to in years. And she seemed to appreciate even more the senses she still had, becoming more cuddly by the day. She was incredibly resilient – even when she walked into something, it never slowed her down, it only made her more determined to find the path she had meant to take. She never let her arthritis keep her from going up and down the stairs, and she’d always make that extra push to get up onto the bed or the couch. And that sixth sense – that mom-just-took-an-egg-out-of-the-fridge sense – was still pretty keen.

Her last full day was the first sick day I’d taken on this job. She kept me company the entire day, from couch to kitchen to couch etc, the perfect nurse. Even after her first seizure took hold, she was incredibly calm and managed to pick herself back up and find her dinner like nothing had happened. Even at the vet the next morning, she was calm and strong.

Everyone tells me, and I know it’s true, that she must have known. That this was my sick day and that I’d be moving out in a week, and it was her time. It is therapeutic to write about it now, just as it was therapeutic to scatter her ashes around the rose bushes last weekend, and just as it was therapeutic to make myself an egg tonight. I will always remember the endless lessons she taught me, about patience, strength, endurance, unconditional love, and living life to the absolute fullest. Millie, thank you, for everything.

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