My mother passed away from cancer in 2016—a short but brutal fight turned into surrender to stage four metastatic lung cancer.
It was six months of doctor visits, medication, pain, suffering, and me hanging on for dear life to the last stitch of my mother’s existence.
To add frosting to the sh*t cake that was losing my only parent, a week later, our cat Ricky, who I’d grown up alongside, also decided this was a good time to die of cancer as well. I promise this ends well. Hang in there…
After I laid my cat to rest in a cardboard box in the garden out back, I sat my mother, in her elegant urn, on my dresser and stared at it for days. What do I do now? I had no one to take care of any longer. (An urn is pretty low maintenance—you just dust the thing.)
After losing my childhood cat, I knew I wanted another pet. The thought process on this went as such: “Well, I would love another cat—but cat fur, gross. A dog is too much work for me right now; I can’t even take myself outside, let alone a dog.” I had always wanted a Sphinx; known colloquially as a “hairless cat,” and while the idea of paying for a designer animal sounded distasteful, I did my research and found a local man who bred them from a short lineage, humanely, and with love, and so I decided to embark on the journey of finding another soul to take care of.
Turns out that soul would end up taking care of me.
A few months later, my partner and I hopped into my car and drove up north on a crisp day in October known to many as Halloween.
I walked through the door, and the man plopped the smallest, pinkest, daintiest little creature I had ever seen into my lap. A chicken nugget, if you will. She looked as if the smallest wind could knock her over, but something about her aura was strong, ethereal, sentient, defiant.
When people say “it was love at first sight,” this is what they mean. I was in love, and her name was Hallow.
It’s funny how animals just show up in your life and you instantly agree, “We are best friends now, right?” She and I were inseparable—bathroom trips and all, amiright, cat people? She reminded me to be excited about life, to entertain curiosity, to cuddle, to be soft and gentle, and to laugh. Her attitude was just that, an attitude, and it still cracks me up to this day. She brought about a new reason to be happy again, in spite of the pain and loss I had endured.
By taking care of her, I also started taking care of myself…because who is going to feed the cat if I die? That little nugget has given me so much, and she can’t even understand me when I tell her (six times a day) how much she means to me.
Sometimes, it takes looking outside yourself for healing, and we all know the best therapy is a snuggle from a sweet companion. Self-care to me is just as important as service to others. Giving without the expectation of it in return is rewarding most often because you end up receiving something greater in return. I can’t recommend cats—or any pet—enough.
And while this may all just be my admittance that I am, unabashedly, a cat lady, I will say that this bald little chicken nugget has saved my life.