Smokey- it sounds like the name for a pimp that chain smokes. Nope, he is just my little friend.
Fourteen years ago, I was living in a clean and sober housing situation run by the Salvation Army. It was inside a single room occupancy hotel with around 100 units, some of which had been sectioned off for office use. My room was on the second floor. I was facing the street, overlooking the Tenderloin. I used to look at into the night sky and see reflections of myself in the shadows. I used to keep my milk on the ledge. I made instant coffee in the sink using barely hot water. I splurged on basic cable I watched on my tiny screen. My life was simple, easy, and full of fear. How could I ever get out of this place? How could I ever leave the only place I had known in my adult life where I could live and not stick needles in my arm. I would sign my boyfriend in for overnight visits.As we would lay in the glow of the streetlights outside, we talked of getting a place together. A few months later, I got my secret wish.
There was the apartment and then there was the cat. A cat named Smokey. He was named Sammy but when his first owner went into hospice, we knew he would be perfect for us. He was smart. He was playful. He was just what I needed to quell my anxiety of being out on my own. I would sit on the couch, freaking out about the world. He would brush himself against me, then bite the fucking shit out of my leg as if to say "get over yourself". I agreed. I would attempt to lock him out at night to keep him from disturbing my sleep. Between school and working at a hospital based methadone clinic, I was tired. He didn't give a shit. He would beat his front paws on the door until I opened it. BAM< BAM < BAM. Bitch, get up. He was like the drug habit I had left behind. At the crack of dawn, he wanted to be fed. No excuses. When I was pregnant for the first time, he gave me a weird sniff. When I had a miscarriage, he sat on my stomach for a few weeks while I cried. He turned his head to the side "I guess you can pet me...." he told me. He was so generous with his feline time.
Now, my recovery cat is dying from cancer. Fuck cancer. Fuck what it does. It took my mother, now it is taking my cat. My mother died quickly. Less than one week from diagnosis until her death. Smokey is slowly withering away. It is triggering all kinds of buried emotions. It reminds me of all the events I couldn't attend because I had a needle in my arm. Of times I wasn't there for people that loved me. Of times I didn't say goodbye. Regrets of years I wasted. Yet, we are together. Right now. He is chilling behind me. I am giving him his CBDs and whatever the hell he wants to eat. I even put the food on my bed next to him if he wants to eat it there. There are no rules anymore. Just me trying to take care of him and make his life a little better. I have lost a hundred or more people in my life to overdoses yet my cat is giving me a chance to say goodbye to all of them. I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service, although this is painful for all it entails.
To some, I am just a drug addict and he is just a cat.
In reality, we are so much more.
Love gave us life.
I hope you are finding love today.
I hope you are safe and finding some peace.