My cat Nikko is back home after having his intestines scraped out in the animal ER back in June. He has a condition called mega-colon which I’m told is common in male cats. I had never heard of it before it struck my own cat, but months later, mega-colon and I am now intimately acquainted.

I could write about how awful it is to worry every day, all day, about whether my little Nikko is okay. Is the medicine working? Is he going to be able to live out his life like this? Am I going to make it, missing much-needed sleep to administer the first dose and never being able to go anywhere for more than a few hours? I could write about the log I keep: 4:15 AM – 3cc Lactulose, 1/4 tsp Miralax. 6:35 AM – decent poop. All the gory details so I can keep track.

Instead, I’ll write about how sweet it is to call Nikko over to the kitchen for a dose of medicine and hear his cute answering trill. How his feet pat on the floor as he comes, slender gray tail held straight up and strong and happy to be getting special attention from his mom.

He wants to eat his food with the dish on the door saddle now, which seems to make receiving his medicine a special event. I help him finish the last bits of food and gravy in the dish by wiping them up on my fingers so he takes the full dose that will keep him alive. His tongue is scratchy as he pulls all moisture from my finger, and his teeth gently grab the last shards of food without biting me.

His dependency is total, yet he is so compliant that it adds to our already intimate relationship. I’ve tried to show my partner how to administer the meds, but he doesn’t feel confident doing it, so it’s all on me. What if I’m not here? What if I’m sick? Who will take care of Nikko?

But I am here, and I’m not sick. Maybe those things we think are dragging us away from what we thought we wanted to do in our life really are life, though perhaps not what we imagined life was going to be all about.

What is our life, after all?

Is it service to others – including our animals? Is it giving of ourselves without expecting to receive? Is it caring about someone else so much that we are glad be the difference between life or death, loneliness or inclusion, comfort or despair? Is it knowing without a shadow of a doubt that this is perfect and enough?

My being here is enough. I, in my caring and empathy, am complete and enough. An animal has taught me this, although I probably knew it before. But Nikko brought it home for me.

My life as it is, whatever I am doing, is a blessing. I am grateful.