Just a couple weeks after losing Buddah, Max was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma. It's a slow growing type, typically, and rarely spreads, but it is what it is, and what it is...cancer. There's no sugar coating it at this point. Max has cancer.
We spent the couple of days leading up to his vet appointment and biopsy tied in knots and I know most of that was fear that the answer meant saying goodbye to him that day. But there's a kindness in his diagnosis; we have time, however little or much it might be. We count his good days measured against his bad, and when the scale tips, we will let him go with the grace he is owed.
It sounds simple, but I know it won't be. It might break me. It will break me.
We're still gutted from losing Buddah. I still feel somewhat blindsided by his lymphoma and how quickly we went from what do we do for him? to placing those last kisses on the top of his head. I am hyper aware of how integrated he was in those soft, day to day moments that are easy overlooked but are also so important. There are so many moments in each day where I feel his absence in routine things that I do: I buttered a slice of toast and made sure I left a glob of butter on the knife and set it on the counter, right where he always looked for it. And when I realized...I tossed the toast into the trash. I couldn't eat it.
I realized that I listen for the sound of his feet as he scrambles across the bookcases, racing to get to the Spouse Thingy's lap as he first sits down in his chair after waking up.
I miss him.
When the vet began telling us of Max's diagnosis, I presumed that I would fall apart right then and there, in the parking lot--because COVID has turned it into a waiting room--but I felt something else.
We didn't have to say goodbye to him just two weeks after losing Buddah. We have time; it might only be weeks, but it could be a couple of months, but it's time that feels like a gift.
He's 19; we've half expected him to die for the last 8-10 months. Certainly since July, when it seemed as if he was headed there sooner rather than later, so this reprieve is painted with relief.
I'll be broken when it happens, I know that. So I'll spoil him while I can.
Before this, people (in the guise of their cats) asked what would happen to Max's work--would Wick continue? Would something new come out in his name?
I don't know.
I think Wick will go on, but whether under his or mine, I have no idea. I don't know what people will accept. I don't know what they want. But there will be nothing new; I cannot fathom launching anything new under his name now. it doesn't feel fair. It might be the end of my career, given that I stopped writing under my own name several years ago.
I'm okay with that.
Right now, all that matters is Max, keeping him fed and comfortable, for as long as we have.