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August 13, 2020

On Borrowed Time: When a Loved One doesn’t have Long to Live.

Have you ever wished for just a little more time?

A chance to savour a moment just a little longer than its brief passing?

Countless experiences come to mind where I’ve wished for time to stop so I could appreciate and take in just a little more of whatever life had miraculously offered in a given moment.

You know those moments—moments where you wished for just one more day at the end of a vacation—to savour the sand, sun, and sound of the ocean waves for just a tiny bit longer. Or just one more hour spent with friends or loved ones to celebrate an occasion or simply the gift of presence. One more opportunity to say, “Thank you.” A chance to share just one more long embrace or kiss. A moment to appreciate something or someone special. And ohhhh, just one more heart-stirring opportunity to say, “I love you,” or a humbling moment, wishing for an opportunity to whisper, “I’m sorry.”

Or, like right now in my world, just a little more time to say, “Goodbye.”

I’ve wished for dozens (okay–probably hundreds) of these kinds of moments throughout my life where I craved, wished for, and even pleaded for just a little more time. Right now is certainly one of those moments.

In the past, I could think of so many incredible experiences where I wanted to borrow just a little more time. But nothing—and I mean nothing—comes close to the present moment.

Yes, in years gone by, I’ve had countless experiences where I desperately wanted time to stop completely for a while, or where I wished for one more week, one more day, or even one more hour for a million different reasons. Heck, I’ve pleaded countless times for one more minute or even 30 seconds to put toward a “do-over.” And I’ve definitely had so many experiences where I begged the Universe or God for just one more moment.

Have you had moments like these, where you wished for another chance? More time? Or the complete stopping of time so you could savour something or someone just a little longer?

The present moment is pulling at my heartstrings in a significant way, and the life lesson of “living in the moment” has hit home powerfully for me right now, bringing tears to my eyes and bringing me to my knees.

We’re on “borrowed time.” We’re on borrowed time with one of my two (very much loved) Maine Coon cats, and this moment has come much, much too soon.

I’m crushed. Devastated. Wishing for a different outcome. Hoping for an error in the veterinarian’s report. Praying for a miracle.

I found Maya and Deezil with the help of the local SPCA over eight years ago. They were so tiny that I could pick up both kittens in one hand, but they filled my heart and home as if they were giant-sized.

They were found in the hull of a boat by a passerby, covered in oil. They must have been born there but there was no sign of the mother. A passerby heard them crying and waited for hours for the mother cat to return. She didn’t, so the lady scooped up the tiny kittens and took them to the animal hospital for immediate care.

After a brief time at the vet, because they were so small, the sibling kittens went to a caretaker who specialized in caring for extremely young or sick felines until they would be old enough to go to the SPCA and be adopted. I had been looking for two Maine Coon kittens for the previous six months since my beloved 14-year-old cat named Scotia (also a Maine Coon) passed away. In a serendipitous moment, I stopped by the SPCA one random day and asked if any Maine Coon cats were available for adoption. They scanned their information and said that two siblings were to arrive in a few days from the caretaker. I asked if I could call the caretaker directly to go and see them.

Later that same day, I found myself on the floor, nose-to-nose, with two of the most adorable little kittens you could imagine! My heart melted. Eight years later, my heart still melts over these two furry gems. Maya and Deezil have grown over the years to weigh over 13 and 17 pounds, respectively, with personalities to match their enormous size. Deezil is 17 pounds of brute strength, fur, and cuddles. Maya is a little smaller and filled with intense curiosity, intelligence, and intuition. They are the greatest treasures in my life (I don’t have kids so these two are definitely my fur-babies), and the thought of either of them not being a part of my daily life seems unimaginable.

Unimaginable—but happening.

As I sit and write this, both cats are asleep beside me. I love seeing them peacefully sleep beside one another. But we are on borrowed time with Maya; she has cancer and is in her final days. The vet said it could be a few days or a few weeks. They weren’t sure how long, but the outcome is inevitable and they simply suggested it would be wise to appreciate the time left with her as it would not last long.

My heart is breaking. Yet overflowing. All at the same time.

Maya has been my confidant. My best friend. The one stable, constant, and steady aspect in my ever-evolving life. When I’m happy, she seems happy. When I am sad, she sticks to me like glue. I am her entire world and she fills mine immensely. When I broke my foot in 2017 and had it elevated for four months in a cast, she lay upon my leg, purring for hours every day as if to try to infuse healing into my broken limb. She was always nearby, always paying attention, and never missing out on what was happening. Her nickname has been “Quality Control” because nothing gets past her.

No matter what I am doing, she has always been present. And paying attention. When we made a penny floor with 20,000 pennies, a DIY project that took more than 20 hours, she was there for about 98 percent of the time—awake, curious, present. She is always near. Always.

I cannot imagine her not being there. I cannot imagine her not being here! Part of me is dying along with her. When I got the news last week that her condition was terminal, it was not a surprise as she’s been unwell the past several months, but I was still shocked. I’ve been largely untouched by death, with both parents, family, loved ones, and those closest to me still alive. I’m blessed, and I’m grateful. Perhaps I should be better able to manage this pending loss. But I’m not prepared. Aside from my cat Scotia’s passing years ago, which was heartbreaking, I’ve sidestepped death completely. Luckily. Gratefully. Blessedly.

Maya came home from the overnight stay at the vet with the news that it could be just a few days or a couple of weeks, and I mourned, cried, begged, pleaded, and prayed that there could be a different outcome. I mourned until my eyes were so puffy from crying that I could barely see out of them and my body was totally sleep deprived from staying awake to ensure that Maya was comfortable and sleeping through the night.

And then, a couple of days later, my entire perspective shifted in one moment.

Yes, in a single moment!

Over a glass of sparkling wine during dinner, as we cried and celebrated the most intelligent, loving, adorable, you’re-my-person feline I’ve ever known, a special person in my life offered a toast to Maya. And to “borrowed time.”

Borrowed time.

From that moment, I began to see things differently. Rather than continue to mourn her loss, even though she was still alive, right in front of me, I decided to celebrate her life and cherish every second of this borrowed time. There will be time for mourning later, but for now, I want to love her, enjoy her, and appreciate every moment of this treasured time with her. And she seems happier that I’m happier. She didn’t like when I was crying and sad over her.

Normally, if I am ever sad, she is always right there to drape herself on me and want to be close, but not this time. When I was crying, she would not sit near me. She doesn’t want to mourn—she wants to celebrate her time here and has guided me to do the same.

Ahhh, the things we can learn from our pets

And here are a few other things I’ve learned from my remarkable Maya:

Please take these few insights with you and add them to your day, even for a moment. See what happens. I’m confident that your life will become a little brighter. I know mine certainly has.

Be passionately curious. This little shift in perspective can absolutely change your life.

Ask for what you want. After all, life’s short, and you deserve it! The world bows to those who know what they want and who have the clarity and determination to speak up and ask for it or chase after it.

Pick your “person” or chosen family and then be loyal for life. Be discerning. Be selective. And then love with an overflowing heart. Until your dying breath.

Follow your intuition. It’s always right. Period. (Note to self: know the difference between your wise inner voice who relays your intuition and the Ego, for it has lots to say too and can disguise itself to appear like your intuition.)

Teach people how to treat you. Show them. Express what you need. Keep the bar high and demand all that you are worthy of.

Be present. Be very, very present. There is nothing else but the present moment that actually matters.

Enjoy the simple things in life. Like laying in the sun, getting some exercise, a good nap, great snacks, attention from those you love, cozy spaces, and warm embraces. This is what life is truly all about.

As I stay close to home these days, bringing some extraordinary new ideas and dreams to life in my work, Maya remains by my side for now. “Quality Control,” as I mentioned she is called, still has work to do and she doesn’t want to be going anywhere quite yet, I see. The vet has said it could be any time, but a steroid injection has brought her energy and appetite back to life for now, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

I’m certain she’ll let me know when she’s ready to move on. And in her thoughtful and discerning nature, she’s offering me one last gift—the gift of her presence—for just a little longer.

I’ll take it. I’ll take every moment, absolutely every single moment of this borrowed time, and savour it forever!

Appreciate every second of borrowed time that life graciously and generously offers. I realize that every moment of every day is actually borrowed time—not just with Maya, but with all the loved ones in our lives. With ourselves, too. Cherish it. Cherish everything and everyone in your life—including yourself. Especially yourself, because the gift of your own presence is the greatest gift you can give to the world and those you love.

We are all on borrowed time. Right here. Right now. And we’re all terminal, really. So, let’s make the very most of it—today.

~

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