He was a gift from my roommate, Peggy, for my 30th birthday. We sat in the living room, watching him prance and stumble about, calling out names to see which one suited him. When I said 'Riley' he turned and walked toward me.
Riley was soooo little - 8 weeks. He couldn't make it up the stairs; he tumbled down them. He would curl up with Daze, Peggy's cat; they'd groom each other; steeple-chase around the house.
Peg told me Riley was a girl. So, for several weeks it was all "she she she" or "her her her." When I took Riley to Dr. Moon's office to get fixed, he said "Mama, Riley is a boy. How do you not know if your baby is a boy or girl?" He chuckled. "If it was a human, I could tell! How can you tell on a cat?!" The office staff laughed. Poor Riley had a complex his entire life because I couldn't stop calling him 'her'!
Today, Dr. Winter told me Riley has a tumor growing behind his eye. It's causing his eye to bulge out (which means broken bones) as well as impede his breathing. The diagnostic estimate was $4k; treatment would be a completely different estimate. I was floored. I called J, asked her to come to the clinic - I couldnt' function nor think rationally. She did...asked all the detailed questions about the tests, the surgery and long-term for Riley. Dr. Burbridge said with home treatment, Riley would have 1-2 months of not-good quality of life. I could not do that to him. He was already suffering quite a bit.
I sat with Riley in my lap, kissed him. I kept apologizing. I put him back in his carrier box, leaned in for a kiss - he gave me one; then he head-butt my hand - his signal for love & attention. I walked out.
I will miss him curling up in the crook of my knee. I will miss the face-pawing - his way of waking me up. I will miss his little face in the front window when I come home from work. I will miss his belly-ups. I will miss his head-butts.
I will miss you, Riley.