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Monday - February 17, 2014

On Sunday, it hit me that Mushu had not been as social as he normally is, nor had he been eating as he normally does.  The past three days, he didn't come to greet me in the morning as he normally would.

He was sick.  How did I miss it?  I felt him over and realized his fur felt tackier than normal, like he had stopped grooming.  Something he normally did fastidiously.  I felt along his body and realized I could feel every bump of his spine, and his hip bones were prominent and sharp.

I knew that on Monday, it was the vet clinic's regular surgery day.  They didn't see patients unless for surgery or follow-up on surgery.  I was able to get Mushu to eat some tidbits, along with a good amount of icecream that he licked up (a treat) and thought I could hold off calling the vet, who had given me her personal cell number in case of emergencies, and would see if they could see him despite surgery day.

The news I was told slammed me like a mack truck.  I knew Mushu's belly had looked swollen, but he had lost weight - all of which I missed because he didn't look like there was weight loss.  I failed him.  How did I fail to see the signs?  How did I miss all the normals gone awry?

It's cancer.

The vet, who I trust with all of these seven lives that fill my heart, told me I did nothing wrong. With what I described, with the tests she ran (x-ray shows an enlarged liver.  He is jaundiced, his belly is filled with fluid), it's all signs of a fast hitting cancer.  She knew that I would never hold back from any expense and she told me the reality that no amount of further testing would change the course of the disease.  His liver was already failing.

I said I needed to bring him home to say goodbye to his brothers and sisters.  She knew that her humans needed that time as well.  We're to return tomorrow, on Tuesday.

I think they all have known something that I just didn't see.  Last night, he did something he never does, he denned under the day bed.  I went under to see what he was doing, lifting up the coverlet, and KoKo and Mei had joined him, nuzzling him, Mei sniffing his toes and KoKo laying his head on his shoulder.  I chased them off, thinking they were bothering him.  What was I thinking?

And last night, as I feel asleep on the couch, I felt a sudden weight on my chest.  He had come to lay on me, something I realized he hadn't done for some time because the Princess usually claims me when I'm on the couch, and she will fall asleep snuggled atop of me, nestling under my chin.  The Princess was no where to be found and there was Mushu, his chin to mine and his long length spread down to where his back legs met my groin.  He didn't seem able to get comfortable like always, spreading out his hunking 17 pounds of love that now felt lighter, but he lay on top of me, purring, licking my chin.  He didn't stay long, and before I could get up to see where he'd gone, Mei had come up needing cuddles and reassurance.  Something she doesn't often do anymore as she's grown up and become more independent.

I like to think that the Princess gave up her throne for that night, deferring to Mushu's needs.  She's a regal girl.

When I brought him home this morning returning from the vet, Kitten immediately greeted him, sniffing him over.  Mushu tried to head butt him across the chest like he always does - it was a weak attempt.  Kitten looked up at me confused.

KoKo came running, also sniffing him and rubbing his head lightly under Mushu's chin.

Despite not really being able to eat, Mushu went to the food dishes nibbling at the leftovers.  I opened up another can and watered down a pate to a gruel and warmed it a little.  He lapped it up, eating little, but more than last night.  The others stood by and watched him eat undisturbed - something that never happens when it comes to food!  And now he's curled up on the couch sleeping. I watched Sula sneak up quietly to sniff at him as he slept without waking at her small gesture as if checking on him.

Before I sat down to write this, I put on the halter and leashed up Mushu to bring him outside.  It was the first time he'd been outside since he came into the house for good on October 30, 2010.  It was the only gift I could think I could give him.

At first feeling a little worried at being outdoors again.

Then more assured remembering old familiar territory outdoors.

Wanting then to take a stroll.

Mushu ~ the sun! the birds!  Sunnybeams galore! At peace.

Mushu ~ It's nice outside, Mom.  Even with the snow.  Thank you!

Up on the rail post once more, looking in the window and seeing Pootie #1

Pootie #1 ~ Mushu, c'mon inside.  You don't belong out there anymore.

And inside we went, and he knew the way back.

God speed my faithful boy, my sweet boy, my gentle boy, the guardian of the home.  Sleep well good brother, fun brother, protective brother, loving brother, the bridge between all.  Sweet dreams my Mushu.  Safe journey home.

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