Dr. J called that afternoon letting me know that the biopsy not only confirmed that Cumin had oral squamous cell carcinoma, but that it had spread to the jaw bone and was indexed an 8 out of 10 in power force. She said there was nothing they could do. I originally had an appointment set-up with our holistic vet in the same hospital so that we could proceed with our next steps after oral surgery, but when I asked if I should keep it, she said that due to the aggressive nature of the cancer and that it had spread to the bone, there really was nothing she thought they could do. I knew that I didn’t want Cumin’s last stretch of life to be filled with stressful car rides, lugging, poking, waiting in hopes that some treatment might work. So after talking with our primary holistic vet, we decided not to take her back. That was the last day she was at the vet that had previously saved her so many times over.
Dr. J told me about things to watch for: excessive drooling, blood, trouble eating, trouble grooming, broken jaw…. I wasn’t very present, just consumed with how could this be happening. We had just received a stellar blood panel the other week. As if reading my mind, Dr. J told me something that I needed to hear, something that others might have been offended by. “All things die. We all have to die at some point. You’ve done such a great job at helping Cumin heal her liver, her pancreas, and most recently, her kidneys. The cancer might be a way of helping her die. She wouldn’t die from hepatitis, kidney failure…so maybe the cancer is the way. We just can’t live forever.” As I write that, it sounds cold and cruel. But over the phone, it was compassionate. I could hear what Dr. J was saying: “I am so sorry. Start preparing because this cancer is bad. She will die from this.”
On July 13, 2016, after 19 years, 4 months and 4 days, I said goodbye to the physical presence of my soulcat, Cumin. I was unprepared for the gripping, hollow pain that would follow despite having six months to “prepare.” As I write this, it has only been 12 days since I last got to snuggle up to her warmth, bestow her with gentle kisses, and remind her that our love is eternal. Unlike the other numerous dear cats I’ve had to say goodbye to, by this time I would’ve put her things away. But the room is as it was when the vet came to the house, administered the two shots, and showed herself out. I remember carefully cleaning the dried blood off her paws before wrapping this sweet soul in her favorite purple blanket.
Almost everything is the same, except for two things: she is no longer sleeping, curled up in her cat house, and now, this wooden cat house is an altar of our love. On it are her cremains in a dark wooden box with an engraved plaque that reads, “CUMIN Love Ambassador, eternal.” Her sparkly gold collar with her gold cat angel and pink heart tag with “Cumin Love” rests on the box and pictures of her are scattered all around a white candle that I burn in her remembrance and honor. But everything else is still the same. Her IV pole that I affectionately named, “Poley” for subcutaneous fluids stands there, complete with shiny, colorful decorations of stars and birthday cakes and a fluid bag with words on it, “peace, healing, love,” in accord with Emoto’s research on water crystals. ** Even her litter box is still here, complete with her last footprints in the sand. Right before her transition, she walked over to the litter box and peed for her last time on this physical plane. I quickly cleaned it up but she walked back in, walked around, as if leaving me a love message, knowing it would provide comfort for me to see her prints in the days that would follow. Cumin so selflessly thought of me even at the end.
Cumin taught me how to give and receive love, how to trust and be present, and she is still teaching me about my self-worth and self-love. After over 19 years with Cumin, I’m learning how to love all of myself in the way I loved her.
This is the story of our love adventure.
-This is an excerpt from “The Cumin Love Adventures: Healing the Loss of a Soulcat” which I wrote privately to help me heal.