Writing this made me realize a specific need e2 provides - one which is different from any other interaction in my life. One which I am terribly grateful for.
We got Gogo and Didi from a bonafide cat lady in the eastern stretches of Williamsburg Brooklyn. She had dozens of cats in the loft space and looked like she spent a good portion of her income on their upkeep.
She interviewed up sharply - "outdoor cats?" "No" ...etc. and when she was satisfied took us to see the kittens. It struck me as a group litter as the kittens seemed very different from one another and feral house cats will accept orphaned kittens into their own litters. KaySu picked up a tiny male with Siamese seal point markings and I picked up a very active lightly-striped female. They were pathetic and dirty and when we got then back to the apartment we lightly cleaned them and set up a little nest or them. KaySu decided the male was as pathetic as a GoGoMa seller (the men who sell roast corn and sweet potatoes at Korean subway stations). With Gogo came Didi for Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot. I don't mention this to show how incredibly brilliant, witty and pomo multicultural we are. But from a feeling that naming Gogo as we did brought him a bit of bad luck or karma..
After a bout with a nasty repiratory thing they grew up as fairly normal kittens - bothering my wife as she tried to do her leathercrafting and patternmaking work at home and developed into lovely cats.
When it was time to get "fixed" - one of the weirdest euphemisms, I actually prefer "tutored" from a memorable Far Side comic of about 10 years ago - Didi the female was relatively fine after her hysterectomy. But Gogo with the relatively simple and non-invasive snip-snip had all kinds of complications. Turns out he was monorchid meaning one tesicle was floating around his abdomen somewhere and had to be found. Also he had a congenital heart murmur. And an eye infection relating to the overlap of his upper eyelid. When we got him back he had stiches in his eyelid and a relatively large scar from the exploratory surgery.
He looks 'Siamese' enough (though actually I think his father was a large dark Burmese which we saw in the neighborhood)that the vet strongly recommended we tell the breeder we got the cats from about all these congenital issues.
We decided to monitor the heart murmur by an ultrasound the next visit which we decided to schedule early because Gogo was unusually lethargic. Ultrasound turned up lymphoma thoughout his little thin body. Deadly cancer throughout the body. And then a few more tests to rule out leukemia, FIP. And then a decision about what to do...
Untreated the vet gave him days to live. Treated months. So we decided to start him on a simple chemotherapy designed to make him comfortable and when the cancer takes over - euthanasia (a punchline to a horrible joke with the pun on "youth-in-asia" - black and stupid humor seems inevitable at such moments).
I'm surprised by the amount of turmoil I feel about this. I feel guilty in ways. At the moment this cat is getting better treatment, better nutrition and better quality of drugs than a large percentage of the world's population. i will probably miss a good friend's wedding. Most people's reaction ranges from the 'put him down now' to 'tie him in a pillowcase and throw him in the Hudson'.
Am I giving Gogo the chemo for him? Of course not - he is not a conscious being. On the other hand he is not in any outward pain, is still eating and even played a bit with the toy mouse suspended from a stick. It seems a waste to kill him because he is going to die anyway. And there is a tiny chance he'll make it through. In which case I'll rename him Lance.
This is all about an emotional attachment to an animal. A fetishism of sorts. I watched the movie Why the BhodiDarma has left for the East and dreamt that night of trying to cremate Gogo out on the apartment balcony. Woke a grown man weeping... I know what's going on - on a rational level - and yet these feelings are so deep I can't do otherwise.
E2 is not a therapist's couch and isn't a bbs... so I'll stop there. I feel like what I'm doing at the moment is akin to what Tony Leiung's character does in In the Mood for Love he goes to Ankor Wat, finds a hole in the side of the temple wall and whispers his heart's prayer into it. Afterwards he stops it up with moss and goes away feeling his secret is both safe and expressed...
e2 is like that for me. T.S. Eliot in a lecture on The Waste Land claimed that the poem was not so much "...an important piece of social criticism" but was instead "...the relief of a personal and wholly insignifigant grouse against life; ... just a piece of rhythmical grumbling".
This writeup would never be mistaken as "...an important piece of social criticism" or even an unimportant one. It is an "insignifigant grouse against life".
And through all the grumbling, Gogo just sleeps with the white tip of his tail stuck in his left ear.