on what matters
by which I mean crying and laughing and living and dying and children and cats and all of it everything and and and and and
A friend recently texted me out of the blue from Ankara to ask if I knew any veterinarians, doctors or pharmacists in London.
Sure, I said, why?
‘Do you think you could get me some nucleoside analogs and RNA replication inhibitors GS-441524 (and related prodrug Remdesivir) and Molnupiravir (EIDD-2801), and the viral protease inhibitor GC376? They're not available in Turkey.’
I starred at my phone, anxious and unsure of how to respond
‘It’s urgent,’ he added, as if it wasn’t obvious.
Turns out his cat was ill, with a terminal form of cat Covid. He’s a single man and lives alone and he really, really loves his cat. We’ve texted a bit since then and although I don’t know him that well it’s clear he’s in agony. I was in Greece when his text came and couldn’t have got him the drugs in time even if it’d been possible. Now his cat is dying, it has weeks to live. My poor friend has been caring for his cat. Nursing it. It’s been awful for him. We’ve been texting a bit.
But texting. Let’s face it: In times of suffering, it’s not much help.
Watching someone you care for in pain really is the most ghastly thing imaginable. A helpless kind of torment — the kind where you end up praying to some nonsense god you don’t believe in, making promises to devote the rest of your life to the sick and the poor if you could just take on a fraction of your loved one’s agony, for a day or an hour or a minute. It makes you stupid and crazy and irascible. You feel helpless, because that’s what you are. (If your behaviour is the direct and immediate cause of your loved one’s suffering I’m talking about something different, please disregard.)
I mention this because my elder son has been hurting for absolutely no fault of his own. And I think this is why empathised so intensely with my Turkish friend and his dying cat (apart from having a cat of my own that I adore). My son’s suffering is complicated but in essence it stems from the fall out from break up of a family. Our family. The family I am partly, for the time being, entirely in charge of as his mother. And my son, like all kids in his position, really misses the time before.
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