I was making a list of different lessons my cats have taught me about love when I realized that along the way, I learned even more about myself.
One of the most memorable relationships I have ever had is with Coco, my very first furry ball. He came home with me after a swift decision I made about having a companion during early days of pandemic.
I had an idea of him filling a hole in my heart with love, warmth, and endless dose of cuteness just like—what I thought—most pets do. Turns out, he needed it more than I did.
Coco was a loving, calm, attentive being. He would let literally anyone pick him up and leave them feel loved without the slightest scratch in their body.
However, inside his fluffy, strong-looking body, you would find him struggling internally. I took him to the nearest vet upon his arrival for a vaccination only to find out that he developed the “wet” form of Feline Infectious Peritonitis, an incurable and fatal disease with nearly 100% mortality rate.
They even call it, “one of the least understood of all cat diseases”.
His condition forced me, a newbie cat mum, to speed up my “how to save a dying kitten” game. From intensive medical and supportive care to snack and cat litter recommendations.
Meds after meds, needles after needles, Coco was getting weaker day by day. He’s been treated by numerous doctors and received countless treatments and I refused to acknowledge that at some point, he grew tired of it.
I had him swallow more pills than he could probably take, do more screenings than he would probably need, attend more doctor appointments that might compromise his rest hour… Anything to prolong his time with me.
I was obsessed to see him as a healthy cat, just like any other cats my friends had at their home, but God knows the “sick” Coco was the best version of him that he could ever be.
He wouldn’t have become stronger without his disease. Hell, I wouldn’t even know a thing about giving pills to a cat, leave alone five pills back-to-back, three times a day. For weeks. And all he did was giving me sad eyes with a little hesitation then took everything in. No spitting. *proud crying*
I only had less than three months with him, but every second that we spent together will stay with me forever. He helped me understand that love isn’t just about feeling butterflies in your tummy, but the willingness to continue to love them even in the hardest times.
…which reminded me of him.
Our relationship ended a while ago, but there is still a part of me living under the shadow of fear of not being good enough for him as a partner. That no matter how hard I tried, I would never be ready to love him for who he really was, in his hardest times.
That despite the companionship, the compassion, the love we shared with each other, I would always secretly wish for a different situation so that everything would’ve been easier.
I feel selfish for thinking that way, but truth be told, I’m not sure whether the feelings and commitment I had for him would change if the situation were different. Would it grow stronger or would it grow us apart?
Who would benefit more from the hypothetical healthier version of them?
Our relationship or my ego?