I work 12 to 15 hours a day, five days a week. That would be a lot for a healthy person; for a person with two serious chronic illnesses, it’s near insanity. What it means, though, is that I spend my nights and weekends in bed. Exhausted. In excruciating pain. And alone, except for my best friend Emily, my cat.
Emily is a runt, five pounds full grown. She’d been beaten up when I got her – her tooth chipped, her ear ripped. And she was terrified. She spent the first three days in my house hiding under furniture, sneaking out for food when she thought I wasn’t looking. Now, she owns the place – woe to anybody who doesn’t understand that this is Emily’s house.
Emily is black and white cow print, and although she’s about 15 years old, she still plays like a kitten. She also doesn’t mind when I’m too tired to play. All she wants is to be with me. She just wants to be us, together.
No doubt, Emily has good reason to love me. She’s a tad spoiled. She has a choice of five or six kinds of dry food all day every day, plus two small cans of food, chicken in the morning and beef in the evening. But her favorite is the Boar’s Head baked Virginia ham that goes in with her beef dinner. Buy the honey maple and she’s not interested. The baked Virginia is her thing. And she gets it every single night – one of the small ways I have to thank her for being with me through thick and thin.
Emily has moved with me from Connecticut to D.C. and back again. She was okay when I worked out of the house. But Emily really came into her own when I started working at home. She sits perched on my knee while I write at the computer, as she is right now. She follows me around the house like a puppy. Often, when I leave, she looks after me, longingly, and often when I return, she is sitting at the door waiting for me.
She loves me.
I don’t have a husband or a child. My mom passed away five years ago. Due to being stuck in the house a lot of my life, if not working, then resting, I don’t have much of a social life. People really don’t like hanging out with sick people.
But Emily? She’s there no matter what. We’ve been through five of my eight surgeries together. She’s stayed close, but out of the way, when I’ve spent the night hugging the bowl. She follows me into the bathroom even when it’s 20 times a day. She’s the best friend a girl could ever want. She is my heart. And because of her, I am never alone.
I hope you have an Emily. She is the greatest gift of my life.