Love is a sweet cake with a hard stone buried inside. Sometimes more than one.
We think about love, we think about the cake. The sweet parts you'd see on a car commercial.
They show you the happy family. Not the part where you change your father's diapers and bathe him.
They show you the embracing couple. Nobody mentions the way you'll feel trapped on an airless moonscape as the relationship unravels, or how words become a minefield until the only safe topics are the weather and the state of the roads.
Parents glow as they hold their baby. That's a very sweet treat, the best I've found in all my life. Any treat that big, that sweet, I know I'm going to swallow a good few harshly-shaped stones before I get to the big one: The only truly good outcome is that she has to grieve my passing.
Midge was my friend for sixteen years. Less than half an hour old when I first held her. Except for one month she stayed in a cattery while I was homeless, we were constant companions. Through all the ups and downs and right back ups, home for us was each other.
I took her to the vet in September. She wasn't eating much, and Hazel noticed brown drool around her mouth.
When your cat is sixteen, every trip to the vet makes you nervous. You wonder, will this be her last trip? This time, she came back. But she came back with bad news:
The tumor was at the bottom of her mouth, under her tongue. Surgery was a one in ten chance of working, and it involved amputating her lower jaw.
She did get oral surgery to fix a bad tooth, and special food. Painkillers twice a day. She took over the library, sunniest room in our house.
For four months, she was a happy little old lady. Sitting in the sun and watching the birds. Watching Charlie play in the back yard. She put on weight again, and her coat was glossy.
Sometimes of an evening, if there were no smelly boys or loud toddlers about, she'd come out of her room and join us on the couch. Christmas, she spent the morning helping us open presents.
But the tumor had been busy. It got so big it pushed her tongue to the side, so she couldn't eat or drink properly. The painkillers weren't working as well as they used to.
She looked up at me, and I called the vet.
December 30, 2016, I held her and stroked her told her how much I loved her as she died.
I haven't been able to write about it until now. It just hurt too much.
Some stones are hot coals.