My cat died about a year ago. She was the best cat. Her name was Jade. My family always had cats when I was growing up and we had three die throughout my childhood. I loved those cats very much and I was very sad when they died, but I didn't still miss them and think about them frequently a year later. Jade was the first cat I adopted as an adult, who was my cat, my responsibility. She loved everyone and everyone who met her loved her (even people who were allergic).
Jade had some medical issues from the time I adopted her. She was a Manx, and it's not uncommon for that breed to have some bladder control issues. To put it bluntly, she peed on my bed somewhat frequently. That's gross and I honestly can't believe I put up with it, but I loved her that much, and I knew if I didn't take care of her no one else would.
I often joke that I knew my partner Eric was a keeper because one of the first times he spent the night at my house Jade peed ON him in his sleep (she never did that to me, only on the foot of the bed). Yet Eric didn't get grossed out, or stop talking me to. He loved Jade just as much as I did.
The truth is, I knew I wanted to marry Eric when I saw how kind, patient, and loving he was when Jade got very sick.
Eric was there for both of us more than I ever could have imagined. It started with some weird behavior. Jade seemed a little disoriented, she stopped wanting to jump on furniture, she would cry out at night for no reason, she bumped into walls and walked in circles. I knew something was wrong but I didn't want to face it. Finally I didn't have a choice anymore and we went to the vet where they told me the symptoms she was exhibiting were similar to symptoms of brain cancer.
The day that Jade and I were supposed to start moving in with Eric, Jade fell off my third story balcony. She fell into the fenced yard of my downstairs neighbors. Eric climbed over the fence to get her out. He found a vet with an emergency room and called them. He drove us there with me panicking and sobbing the whole way. I have no idea what I would've done if he hadn't been there… probably completely fallen apart and been unable to act in any way. And he didn't bat an eye or say a word at me shelling out many hundreds of dollars for an emergency vet stay for my already terminally ill cat.
Remarkably, Jade didn't appear to have any lasting damage from the fall. Once we took her home, though, she started to go down hill very quickly. She wouldn't eat and I had to force feed her. Eric took her to vet appointments for me, when I couldn't get off work, and gave her all of her pills. Eventually we got her on a steroid and she showed marked improvement. Thanks to the steroid we got another good month with her, and I am so thankful that we did.
Eventually though, we started noticing she was having trouble breathing. Once again, I wanted to sweep it under the rug and pretend nothing was wrong for as long as possible. Eric wouldn't let me. I went to work one day and he called to say he was really worried about Jade and was taking her to the vet. He took her in, had her x-rayed, and they found masses in her lungs. I immediately left work to come and be with her while she was put to sleep.
I began to see that he would always be there for me, always be willing to help, even when it wasn't his problem. …If he has this much patience and concern for a cat that isn't even his responsibility, imagine how dedicated and loving he will be to our family.
Eric stayed with me the whole time, supporting me, but making sure that I was in control of all the decisions. He even paid the bill because I was still a little broke after paying for her hospital stay. Afterwards, I didn't want to go home and see all of her stuff knowing she wouldn't be around to use it anymore. I went back to work, and Eric went home and gathered up and donated all of her things so I wouldn't have to deal with it.
He did so much for both of us during those months of her illness, but that is one of the things I am most grateful for. It was just a little thing, but it was something I completely couldn't handle at the time and he just took care of it without me even asking.
The whole ordeal with Jade made me see Eric in a new light. He was so gentle and caring towards her. He never complained about being burdened by this sick cat he hadn't ever taken responsibility for. I honestly believe Eric loved Jade almost as much as I did, even though she peed on him almost immediately after meeting him, and caused him no shortage of inconvenience. I began to see that he would always be there for me, always be willing to help, even when it wasn't his problem. More than that, I began to think if he has this much patience and concern for a cat that isn't even his responsibility to take care of, imagine how dedicated and loving he will be to our family.
When Eric and I started dating I told him I didn't think much of marriage and I didn't know if I wanted to have kids. I felt like marriage ends in divorce about half the time, and kids infringe on your freedom. Why willingly subject yourself to that stuff? But seeing how much he was there for me during one of the harder times of my life made me trust him so completely (although I still don't trust him anytime there is any chance he might tickle me, and that's never going to fade away). I began to see that it might be worth it to make some sacrifices in order to see the amazing little dude or dudette that he and I could raise together.
And less than six months after we had to put Jade to sleep, I proposed and he accepted. I still don't know whether we will make the choice to have children, but I am so excited to walk down that path with him either way. I know it will be amazing.
…Now I just have to figure out if there is a way to talk about my dead cat in my vows without it sounding very creepy and weird.