My cat is dying, now let's be grateful!
Over the past few days we have been dealing with a crisis here in the Galluccio home. Our cat, Mercury, a large gray and white "street cat" which we adopted as a stray from Eastside Park, Paterson, 10 years ago, is dying. So the drama here in this very high drama household is really peaking and fortunately for me, this is where I (Daddy) work some of my best magic.
Being a care taker has always come easy to me. It's a gift but like all gifts it can and has been a burden as well. Caretakers frequently forget to take care of themselves. It's why flight attendants have to remind parents to put on their OWN oxygen masks first before the child. It's a simply philosophy made iconic by RuPaul "If you don't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anyone else!" Caretakers are no good to anyone if they are not taking care and loving themselves first. So I've been blogging in my head since Monday when we first heard the news from the vet that our Mercury might be really sick. For me, writing of any kind is cathartic. It releases me, soothes me, it quiets my soul. So if you're still reading this, you are part of my process......welcome to my world!
How do I take this experience with our cat and make it a healthy experience for my family? Well, each one of them are different so each approach must be finessed for them. For now, I will just focus on Adam and Madison.
Adam, on the autistic spectrum, requires major work on all our parts to help him through this. He will need constant reassurance on so many levels because in some ways, he will never "get" exactly what's going on here. Expressions like "put him to sleep" or "put him down" mean sleeping and down. He doesn't "get" the nuance of this kind of phrasing, things don't work that way for him. Adam has a closeness with Mercury that rivals all the stories of "A boy and his Dog" that authors and hollywood have enjoyed forever. He literally has been dragging that cat around for years and sleeping with him everynight. When I say dragging....I mean dragging! Most cats would have hissed and scratched him to death years ago but not Mercury. I believe the cat, sometime's more than us, "gets" Adam.
We took Adam to the vet with us on Monday. Afterall, a very hard tumor the size of a tennis ball had us immediately concerned and we kind of knew and feared the path we would be taking. We are trying to help Adam understand this process. We will be utilizing a therapist as well as coaching friends, family, teachers and coaches on how to support him through this. We are still in the early stages and we do not have to euthanize Merc yet so we, especially Adam, have some time to adjust.
Madison, being a 14 year old girl, is devastated but from almost from afar. As she copes, she has decided she wants nothing to do with it. It is too sad etc. I made her look at his lump of fur that is hiding his tumor and she almost freaked. She too needs to be part of this process. Countless times she has shouted "Oh Mercury, I just love your marshmallow paws!"......she too is attached but she is also stoic. Fortunately for us, there is a lot to occupy Madison.
For me, the most important part of this is teaching my children that when things seem to be at their worst, it is then that we need to find the gratitude in life for all the good things we do have. Sure we can focus on losing our cat but isn't better to focus on the terrific luck we have in having him for a little while longer while we can truly appreciate what a great member of this family he has been. We won't have any regrets about petting him more or giving him an extra treat because we have been given the time to get that done.
I'm grateful for so many things in my life but today I am most grateful for time. The time to show my cat, Mercury, that I love and adore him and I will help him pass with love and kindness. I'm grateful that we were lucky enough to have a cat that brought so much joy into our lives. He contributes to make this house a home and I will always love him for that.