In what I’m sure is standard practice but which I nevertheless found incredibly kind, the veterinarian left the room. To give us a few minutes to talk.
But we didn’t really need it.
He’d done everything but flat-out offer to schedule Nermal an appointment to euthanize him. He said pretty much everything but that.
As soon as the door closed, I turned to Ashley to see what she thought. I was fairly certain I knew…but you just don’t know I guess. In those situations.
“I just don’t think we should let them take him back there. He’ll be alone and he’ll be scared.” On this last word, tears came to her eyes. She cries so silently you can have a normal conversation with her and the only indication that anything is wrong are the tears.
Crying is often so much more than tears.
“Maybe this is why he found us,” she said. I agreed with her. One hundred percent. “Maybe this is why he got our attention in the store.”
And that he did. We hadn’t set out to get another cat. We’d just been home all day on a holiday and got bored. Went for a bite. Tooled around. Ran an errand in the pet store…
And there he was. I took one look at him and knew he was going home with us. I tried to ignore the impulse but I couldn’t. We left the store. We got ice cream. We went back to the store.
From that point on, he’s been our L.G. Nermal.
Turns out, though, that Nermal really isn’t quite normal. Turns out that his genetic code prevents his little system from being able to handle this one tiny virus that the other 4,999 out of 5,000 cats can handle. Turns out that one tiny virus, since his body can’t handle it, becomes something called Feline Infectious Peritonitis. Turns out FIP means that his blood vessels leak nutrients. Turns out they pile up in his little belly.
Turns out there’s no cure.
Without nutrients he will get weaker and weaker until his little system can’t handle it and shuts down.
Then our little Nermal will be no more.
The vet was careful to tell us not to hold out hope. He told us as kindly as possible that Nermal probably won’t survive long. He sent us home with some prednisone – the exact same pill that Ashley takes – and instructions for helping him get nutrients.
He sent us home with our Nermal, but not with hope.
Nor do we, I think, hope for much. I think all we really hope for is that when Nermal’s little system shuts down he’ll be at home. He’ll be warm. He’ll not be scared. He’ll be loved.
And he’ll know that we tried, that we didn’t give up.
He’ll know he chose us because we understand.
And we’ll know he chose us because we needed him.
Until then, though, we’ll keep up with his medicine. We’ll feed him whatever he’ll eat and make him as comfortable as we can. We’ll love him as though he’s our very own child. Maybe, like Ashley, he’ll live longer than anyone expects. Maybe he won’t. But from now until the end, there will be love.