Our old cat, Nicky, is about 13. I say “about” because he came to us from the Animal Refuge League in 1996 and was deemed to be approximately four years old. Nicky is tall and lanky and very serious. He doesn’t like it when you catch him at the catnip; he gives a look that says, “Who, me?” and wanders away trying to pretend it was nothing. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…
Sometimes he’ll jump on the bed and just lie there looking at me intently. He has done this ever since he came into my home, just after my first husband and I separated. On the days my children were with their dad, Nicky’s intent looks, sometimes lying beside me, sometimes lying right on my chest and insisting on eye contact, told me what I really needed to know: that I was not alone, that I was not disconnected, that even though I felt just miserable, the life of my soul was not over.
When he gives me those looks now, Pure Luck will say, “I see you’re getting a Cat Scan.”
(He loves puns. I love him despite his puns. Mustn’t it be painful to be a person who thinks in puns all the time? He needs my love as much as I needed Nicky’s looks, I’m just sure of it.)
Now I’m really going to have a CT scan. Ever since I had vestibular neurinitis two years ago, I’ve been plagued by various ear and throat symptoms, and the ENT doc wants to do some diagnostic tests in an attempt to resolve things. Yesterday he put a camera down my throat to examine my larynx and vocal cords. Let’s just say my tongue is still sore from being held *out* of my mouth during the film-making session. Tomorrow I go in for a “Head Shake” test on some sort of equipment that is still considered experimental, which means insurance won’t pay for it, of course. Wear comfortable shoes and pants, they advised. Are they going to shake my head upside down? The CT scan has to wait until the 28th.
I’m surprisingly non-anxious, perhaps because I went straight from hearing tests and deep throat cam to visiting Pattie in the hospital. Pattie is in her 60’s, a lifelong smoker with a history of a small stroke and a mother who died of a stroke, and now she has a large mass on her lung. She had to go off Coumadin in order to have a biopsy, and that led to a blood clot. Meanwhile her husband is being told that she has little time based on the size of the mass, but husband and doctor think she doesn’t know it. I think she does. I know she does. I know it from the look of wild joy on her face when I came around the curtain. I know it from her fierce grip on my hand while the doctor was standing at the foot of her bed. I know it from the intensity of feeling when everyone else left the room and we finally had a chance to pray.
“We have three minutes,” I said, “until they come in to check your vital signs again, and we’re going to pray now.”
For some reason I said “Amen” instead of finishing with the Lord’s Prayer as I usually do. When I opened my eyes, hers were on mine and she said, “Our Father?” And so we prayed again. And when we were finished, I believe our eyes met in a Cat Scan.
Our lives are short, they really are, even the ones that are longer in years than most. Those doctors may not be able to do anything but make Pattie comfortable. But her soul is well. The Cat Scan told me so.