Sometimes Love Means Letting Go
Two weekends ago, my wife, Jill, and I said goodbye to our daughter, Alexus, son-in-law, René, and their cats as they headed back home to Boston.
Because remote work is now common during the pandemic, Alexus and her husband were able to spend December and early January with us and work from our home in Maryland.
When they arrived, they had four feline companions. (To say that my daughter loves cats is an understatement.) They left with five.
Here’s what happened.
We inherited Oreo when we moved into our new home last year after the owner left him behind. We were willing to take care of him because he’s so cute.
But right away, we noticed two problems. Every time he rubbed against Jill’s skin, she got hives. And Oreo seemed to have severe allergies as well. He constantly had a runny nose and wheezed and sneezed a lot.
Jill isn’t working right now, so we can’t afford veterinary bills. Because Oreo is so affectionate and fit right in with Alexus’ cats, she and René instantly fell in love with him. He frequently cuddled with each of them while they watched television, and at night, he started sleeping in their bed with the other cats.
Alexus and René also felt bad about his labored breathing, so they took him to a veterinarian, who discovered a bacterial infection and put him on antibiotics.
As we sat down for dinner one night, Jill wondered if Alexus wanted to take Oreo home with her. Alexus knew how attached Jill was to him, so she asked if that would upset her.
“Yes,” Jill said with tears in her eyes. But she knew the cat wouldn’t get the same love, care, and attention he deserved by continuing to live with us.
I was surprised, because despite the frequent hives, Jill loved Oreo’s sweet presence. Later that night, she told me that doing what was best for the cat was more important than what made her happy.
She also wanted me to understand that as her Huntington’s progresses, she probably won’t be able to verbalize what’s wrong with her. I’ll need to pay close attention to her health, like Alexus and René did with Oreo.
Infections can cause a lot of issues for both cats and people. When Jill’s dad, who also had Huntington’s, got an infection, his mood changed. He fell more often and would be more confused than normal. If Jill gets to a point where she isn’t safe, she said I’ll need to make sure that she’s in the best place for her health, whether it’s at home, in the hospital, or in a care facility.
It will be my job to make sure she’s as healthy as possible and in the safest environment, just like Oreo is now.
That’s the thing about love. Jill loved Oreo so much that she let him go so he could get the care he needed, even though she preferred to be with him. I love Jill so much that I may have to do the same for her one day.
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