Chronic and Nameless
The cat is dying—though I know we all are, since the day we’re born or before that, when we’re that cell-knot of an embryo, that hoped-for thing or mistake. But the cat is dying more so than usual, and I have become a person who follows a cat around the house with a handkerchief, hoping to catch the strings of snot that trail so pitifully from his nostrils since cats can’t say what they need. And they hate to breathe through their mouths, the veterinarian says, and she emphasizes the word hate the way preteen girls do when discussing their morphing bodies. In fifth grade we all wanted to be veterinarians, but by sixth we were over it and planning our pop-star careers. Discovered so young, the magazines would say. By then we’d learned something about animals, but nothing about death, except that sometimes a father will leave a note that says I didn’t think any of you loved me anymore, which they’ll find with him at the beach cabin, the tide outside receding before it comes in.