Every morning when I wake up, Opal is either on the bed with me, or on the rug next to the bed. She is waiting for me to wake up and feed her. I get up. I use the bathroom, take my morning meds and vitamins, and collect the food bowls. I bring them to the kitchen, and the entire time it takes me to get there, she is meowing at me for food. I open the cabinet with the cat food in it, and she climbs in. I pull a can of wet food from the fridge to distribute into the three bowls, and she yells louder, pacing behind me. She races me to my office, where her food bowl hangs out. I nearly trip on her. She yells some more. I put the food down and she purrs while she eats. Harley is waiting at the end of the hall where her food bowl lives, and Sophie sometimes waits on the dresser in the bedroom for hers. This is every. single. morning. Opal is the most food centric animal I’ve ever known. It’s insane and amazing and not surprising since she topped out around 20 pounds several years ago. She’s since been on a diet, and then older age hit, and she’s slimmed down significantly.
This morning was different. Opal wasn’t in the bedroom. She wasn’t waiting in the hall when I finished in the bathroom. I found her sleeping on the couch. She opened her eyes and looked at me without raising her head. I got breakfast for the three of them and she didn’t move. She didn’t meow. She didn’t pur. I brought her food to the couch and she turned away from it. Opal will be 16 this summer.
M was still sleeping so I took the dog out, and then poured myself a cup of coffee and settled down on the couch next to Opal. I sent my best friend a text because she’s always up earlier than me, and we FaceTimed. At that point I was pretty certain that Opal was sick, or she was dying, or both. And because she’s 16 that’s both okay, and very not okay. I’ve had her and Sophie, litter mates, since I was 22. They were just months old when I got them. They’ve been with me through so much life, some predictable, and some that no one should have to experience. They are my anchors. So it is completely devastating to acknowledge that they’re old biddies now, and could go at any time.
As it turns out, I was panicking and anxious and Opal got better as the day progressed. She’s gotten off the couch a few times, been at the water bowl, and eaten both treats and food. She was probably just having an off day. But it was such a dramatic change in her personality, it was hard not to be alarmed. She’ll be getting extra pets, snuggles and a close watch for the next few days.
Opal is okay for now. And I’m okay for now. And my friends and family are okay for now. And that feels like a lot to be grateful for, so here I am. Grateful for what I still have, terrified of who I can lose in this crazy pandemic world. I think I’ll just hold tight for now, and hope for the best.
Opal and Sophie sleeping. Opal is the big spoon, Sophie the little. My hearts.