Remember training wheels? For me, they were the last bastion of bike safety, and they became more of a security blanket than a training tool. I remember being reluctant to let my dad take them off, until one day I realized that they didn’t seem to be touching the ground anymore. Sure enough, I took a short test drive on a neighbor’s non-training-wheeled bike, and I could totally ride on two wheels.
I could also totally crash on two wheels, as evidenced by the latticework of tiny souvenirs on my knees and elbows.
I’m still removing metaphorical training wheels from my life, some 30 years later.
Two weeks ago, we had one very sick cat. Yang was showing signs of kidney failure, a diagnosis that would have fit his age of 13 years.
I spent four days and nights convincing him to eat and drink. I drove to three supermarkets in search of no-sodium-added tuna. I baked him a chicken and made a salt-free stock. I woke up at 2 a.m. every day to check on him. I made sure my phone never left my side so that the vet could give me the results of the blood tests the minute they came in.
Most surprising of all, I made peace with the situation.
I realized that it was the first time I had truly been in charge of an animal’s care. Sure, I had pets as a child and even as a teenager, but my mother was, in the end, the decision-maker, the one who had to decide on treatments, the one who had to decide when to let go.
It’s not a small thing, deciding when to let go.
In the end, the blood tests came back normal and Yang started eating like a lumberjack again. It does appear that he and his brother have permanently added a couple of servings of baked chicken and homemade broth to their daily menu, but that’s a small price to pay for the return of a healthy cat.
I realize I’m not out of the woods on this forever. I have teenage cats, and they won’t live forever. Pets break your heart, every damn time.
I won’t say that the decisions I’ll be faced with one day will get any easier, but I’m on two wheels now, ready to brave the hills.