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Somewhere in Front of the End

A friend and I took Koshi to The Cat Doctor last night. This is my old vet from when I lived around the corner from it, a cat-only practice. They doubled the life of my other cat with his weird gastrointestinal problems. I would’ve gone last week if they’d had appointments, when the 24 hour hospital sent us to the wrong place for an ultrasound.

She had a less good day yesterday. No drinking, less walking, more staring. She doesn’t look good, like a concentration camp survivor. But she purrs when we sit together and I pet her. Her eyes are bright. She knows more about what’s going on than me.

The vet is very good. We have some x-rays to eliminate a possibility that precludes going farther. It is eliminated. There is discussion of what to do next. She stays overnight.

My friend and I have a late dinner at a cafe she worships, which has an outpost in suburban Federal Way. The town echoes from when I lived there, back in 2004: the streets run the same, most of the buildings are the same, but enough has changed it’s a different place. It is cold and clear, the solid dark of coming winter. I ask her to order the cheeseburger with the chocolate shake and go outside where a trio of fat guys with the orotund bellies of Plains truck drivers stand in the entry and talk about cars. I go around the corner by a blank wall and drainspouts to call my parents. I look at my feet or across the empty parking lot at a Ross under construction and opening soon.

My mother offers her usual give-and-take-away attempt at comfort that is a criticism: ooh, well, ER vets aren’t the best ones to go to, something to remember for next time. I mention the estimated cost and she makes her indrawn breath of descent into Dickensian poverty. She asks my Dad for his take. He has been on the phone, silent, unknown to me. Well, we’re in this far. No point to stop. Take two aspirin and call us in the morning. That’s what you do.

The call continues and I shiver worse. Mom asks about a photograph somebody took of a ghost that shows on the screen but that won’t print the ghost. Do you have any suggestions? Nope. Dad laughs.

I drop off my friend and go home to an empty house. I am very tired. It doesn’t feel bad. The vet offers competence and diligence if nothing else. She has it in hand.

In the morning I wake to half dreams. I have a good story idea, about a robot who is disintegrating and the ship can’t help him. I get up and write notes for it. I send work samples to someone sending me out to a job. I make a comment on a New York Times story about robotic exoskeletons for people who can’t walk. I think I should write a blog post and pay myself first.

The vet calls. Koshi is doing worse. All labs are normal. It’s consistent with a foreign body stuck somewhere, but not really. Maybe cancer, some bad inflammation. We discuss ultrasound or biopsy. I wonder if yet another ultrasound will see anything. She will talk it over with her husband partner and another vet and call back.

I start writing this. I look out the window. I think writers look out windows more than they write.

The vet calls back. They have done an ultrasound, seen worsening. They are in the midst of a biopsy and she gets an instant message that it looks like carcinomatosis. This is the thing she thought she’d eliminated last night. It’s instant cancer, suddenly there, and there’s nothing to do. They don’t know for sure. There’s some discussion of what she’s doing for Koshi now. I ask them to confirm and call back. There’s no point in going on until that’s known.

I text my friends. I don’t really feel much. I think I have been in this place often enough now. I call to cancel the job interview I have this evening, for a job it doesn’t sound like I want. The woman is very young with a tiny little kid voice and no confidence and is very thoughtful. I apologize for not calling her sooner. She says not to think about it. My friend calls back. She has a job interview this afternoon too. She says to call and let her know if it’s before noon. She doesn’t want me going down there by myself.

It feels like that’s where it is. Part of me is fine with that. The point has been to do what’s best for her. To have that certainty of choice is helpful. I will at last know what to do.

This is what it looks like out of the window right now, the day after 9/11, just before eleven in the morning:




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