Warning: this will not be my most articulate blog post.
Today I beseech you for your prayers for a cat. More precisely, the cat. The cat who puts the twist in my tail, the bend in my ends, the sprinkle on my cupcake.
People occasionally ask me why I don’t write about Webster more often. My reasons are threefold:
- Words are my trade, yet words fail me in trying to do justice to this love. All I can do is prostrate a superabundance of adjectives before a mystery I can’t describe. A writer knows when her words are not enough. Wordsmiths rush in where angels fear to tread.
- There’s the related danger that, in trying to do justice to this cat, my words will never stop. And that could be unfortunate, because…
- …I don’t want to make you throw up.
But today this blog belongs to Webster.
Last night, Webster nibbled his dinner on my desk, as usual; slept in my lap, as usual; then strolled around the Community Room, as usual. Sometime in the ten minutes after Webby’s descent from my lap, quick-like-a-cat Danielle saw him sitting funny. Now, if you or I or the Burger King saw a cat sitting funny, we’d think, “Huh. That cat is sitting funny.” (We have deep thoughts, you and BK and I.) But when Danielle, who has cared for a platoon of cardiac-patient cats, sees a cat sitting funny, she thinks, “His respiratory rate is up. I see subtle signs of cardiac distress. It is time to spring into life-saving action.”
This she did, so quietly that I neither saw nor heard her from the other side of the Community Room cubicles. In the space of approximately 17 seconds, Danielle whisked Webby back to the vet office and consulted with Denise. Together they did approximately 873 tests. All of 17 seconds later, Denise appeared at my side. Her tone was slightly nervous. “Helloooo, Miss Angela.”
Denise and I have labored for the cats together for five years now. We’re pretty darn close. This level of formality is decidedly abnormal.
“Hi,” I said warily. If I were a cat, the hairs on my spine would be poised to stand on end.
“So I don’t want you to be nervous,” Denise began, thereby immediately succeeding in making me nervous. “But I’m sending Webby to Dr. Fantastic.” (You’ll recall that Dr. Fantastic is our blanket name for all the fantastic doctors at the emergency and specialty vet hospital.)
It turns out that Danielle’s uncanny instincts had been spot-on. In addition to sitting funny, Webby was showing off a worrisome new cardiac rhythm. I couldn’t make out all of Denise’s words over my own heartbeat last night, but I do recall her saying that Webster was newly “dropping beats.” That sounds like something a Brooklyn DJ would do, but apparently she meant something different.
By the grace of God I was suddenly and efficiently numb. “I’m taking him,” I blurted.
“Do you know how to get to Dr. Fantastic?” Denise asked.
Fortunately, I can tell you how to get, how to get to Sesame Street Place, and Dr. Fantastic is 10 minutes from there – so Siri and I would figure it out.
First came the matter of getting Webby into a carrier. I’ve been conscious about not being one of the People Who Do Mean Things To Cats at Tabby’s Place. Let Denise and Dr. C and company do wicked life-saving things that make kitties angry. I’m content to nuzzle them and write bad jokes about them. But tonight, it was all me getting Webster into that carrier. I shook as I stuffed it with blankets, then opened it and put it on the counter. “Hi baby,” I cooed. “Baby. Webby.”
He jumped up and walked into the carrier himself. Thud. As I closed the door, feeling like Cruella de Vil herself, Webby looked at me with those immense eyes, strangely calm. It’s all cool, Mom. Where are we goin?
Webby remained a cool customer on the 45-minute drive to Dr. Fantastic’s place. First he gazed around, rocking out to Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers. Then he curled into a circle and slept, as peacefully as if we’d never left my desk.
Peaceful. That made one of us.
Once at Dr. Fantastic’s, the triage nurse almost immediately took Webby from me and told me to wait. I offered him a kidney if he could save this cat. When he looked at me funny, I asked if perhaps he’d prefer my pancreas.
Dr. Fantastic and his staff (the Fantasticlettes?) were under orders only to release medical information to Official People, and writers/random emotional basketcases don’t make that list. But the triage nurse, despite insulting me by refusing my internal organs, clearly had pity on the poor schlub in the waiting room. “I can’t tell you anything,” he said repeatedly. “I have to wait for the doctor, and she’ll call Denise and Jonathan. But Webster’s pulse ox is 98, and his blood pressure is normal. He doesn’t need any oxygen. He’s stable. He’s good. So you can go, and we’ll let Denise and Jonathan know if there’s any news.”
I stared blankly.
“I’ll take good care of him,” triage nurse promised. Words between his words: So please leave now, OK? Your job here is done.
Not OK. But I stumbled out to my car, the numbness wearing off and the fervent prayer taking over. That part hasn’t stopped – and that’s the part where I’m beseeching your help. If God is there and He is the Great Physician, the God who Heals – and I believe to the depths of my being that He is – then this is His area. If God loves Webster even more than I do – and I know He does – then He has Webby’s good at heart even more than we can imagine.
Webster is a cat who loves fiercely and fully. When he loves you, he’d go to the barricade with his last breath on your behalf.
I’ve never had any illusions that it’s anything I’ve done or been that made Webster choose to love me. It’s as mundane as the fact that I’m the one who spends the most time in the Community Room (and therefore the most consistently available lap). It’s as transcendent as the fact that grace is all about the heart of the giver and not at all about the merit (or lack thereof) of the recipient. It’s not about me. It’s about Webster, about the mystery of mercy, about the grace of God.
But it’s as real as anything in heaven or earth, and the bond we have is everlasting. In my eight hours a day at Tabby’s Place, there are very few minutes when Webster and I aren’t physically attached. There are no minutes when we aren’t soulfully attached.
Oh heaven. The vomitous overflow of words has begun, so I’d best stop here and just humbly request your prayers.
As of this morning, we know that Webby is stable and didn’t require any extensive treatment overnight. The Fantasticlettes repeatedly told Denise that he’s a “lovely, lovely cat,” which gives me confidence in their competence as medical professionals and human beans in general. Dr. Fantastic will go over details with Denise later today, but at this hour it seems that Webster’s heart disease has indeed progressed…but is not yet congestive heart failure. The tentative plan is to bring him home today (oh please yes Lord) and to raise his current medication doses…and then to maintain him happily for many, many, many, many years.
Meantime, please pray. And pray. And in between, pray without ceasing for our lionhearted Webster. Thank you, amazing friends and kindred spirits.