Here is a shot of our dear cat Nina. I got Nina - or Sissy as she was known then - from the Upper Valley Humane Society for my birthday in 2000. She came to live with Zach and I on Barker Road in Post Mills. She was very young and nearly feral. She didn't purr for several years but she got along pretty well with Zach who largely ignored her but secretly enjoyed having a little cat to mentor. Gradually she started to open up. She learned about this strange thing called playing and developed a demeanor best described by Rudyard Kipling in The Just So Stories as "...the cat who walks by [herself] and all places are alike to [her]...".
Years have passed. Meg and I were married and we moved into a new home in a new location. The move was tough on Zach but he adapted after a fashion. Nina got more and more assertive which would result in Zach gently giving her a boxing lesson every now and again.
In June 2006 we lost Zach which was devastating. Nina was now suddenly the boss of the house and though I'm sure she missed Zach, she embraced her newfound position with zeal and a small bit of cruelty towards her more benevolent and Zen-like "sister" Deva.
These days Nina is struggling. She's at least fifteen which is not terribly old for a cat, but she's had a few rough patches one of which it appears to have damaged her heart. She's not been eating well, has lost a lot of weight and has been to the vet more times than she deserves. The diagnosis of heart disease is very serious but she is soldiering on. Treatment has been helping a bit and she's been eating better lately. More importantly, her impertinent attitude has returned and she seems to be enjoying herself again. I'm thankful for that and we'll try to make all the time we have left with her happy and comfortable.
All of this is of course terribly sad no matter how hard I try to paint the happy face on it. Pets - and people - move on inconveniently and one way or another we have to face these very tough transition times. I keep looking but have found no magic to make the process easier.
Perhaps because all of this is on my mind, I've been listening to the posthumously released tribute to Warren Zevon - who I'm shocked to see passed away over ten years ago - entitled Enjoy Every Sandwich. The title comes from an apparently regular comment that he made in response to a question about life and death from David Letterman after he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. It seems like great advice and though Nina doesn't fancy sandwiches much, she is sure enjoying the baby food we're feeding her these days.
Enjoy every sandwich indeed.