Look at my boy all tuckered out. Sleeping on the floor beside my desk, he's been playing outside for the last hour. It's been a rough year for him, diagnosed with cancer in January. A surgery to remove the tumor, a month of radiation afterward and he had to stay at the hospital. Had to be fed through a tube directly into his tummy for several months. He's home now but on pain meds and appetite stimulant.
I've always rolled my eyes a tad at the people on Facebook who disclose every trial, triumph, thought and action in their lives, and roll them further over the people who are apparently interested. Somebody clips their toenails and they get 50 likes. But when my boy took sick and I was so heartbroken, I'm not a religious person so I couldn't pray for him but I felt desperate to collect voices to throw a chorus into the universe just in case there might be a power in numbers that I don't understand. So I revealed his diagnosis in the most crowded place I know of, on the largest stage I have access to, Facebook, and the response humbled me. So many genuine heartfelt notes of support and prayer.
I felt sheepish for doing what I eye-rolled others for doing. But now people kept inquiring about his status, so I continued to post updates as things roller-coastered, doing well, doing not so well, well, not so well. And people listened and cheered for my boy. I felt that they had built a net for me to fall into when I was anxious and worried, their words laced together into a canopy, so even if the cancer comes back and my boy doesn't make it, there's a silken web of words waiting to be spun from the fingertips of my friends on their keyboards to lower me gently to the ground.
There was an episode of Radiolab that proposed a question that has needled me ever since: "Is it better to be ignored by the universe or despised by it?" I've waffled over the answer. I can be a drama queen in my own head, feeling the universe has a grievance with me, toying, taunting and mocking me. But when this cancer came and I felt helpless, felt that my voice was not strong enough to be acknowledged, when I feared the universe would not notice my broken heart, would ignore my pleas for health, I knew which was the worse, and I resorted to recruiting a choir to sing sorrow on my behalf, to sign my letter of protest to the universe and petition it against my sadness. Absolute freedom from the eye of the universe seemed too bitter a burden.
My boy is a domestic shorthair tabby. (Which makes the support of my family and friends all the more dear for understanding how important my pet is to me.)