Back in March of 2021, I had an experience and wrote something down in my notes, then just kind of forgot about it. Every day, I work in my office upstairs, and my 19-year old cat, Bits, sits with me, either in my lap, in one of three heated beds placed in strategic locations throughout the house, or laying on the floor, catching beams of sunshine coming through the window.
I try to wrap things up in time for my wife to come home. I can see her pull into the driveway from my second floor window. I will finish up my work, get up from my chair, and Bits knows it’s time to head downstairs with me and greet mama. Sometimes, I don’t wrap things up until much later in the evening, when Ashley has settled on the couch after preparing dinner for us.
On March 10th, 2021, Bits and I were concluding one such workday, and we walked through the hallway towards the stairs together. The hallway was dark, but at the bottom of the stairwell, through the portal created by a partially pulled-back curtain we separate the floors with, I could see the warm light of the TV illuminating the living room and the last rays of the sun setting through the windows. But I didn’t follow Bits down the stairs this time. Instead, I stood at the top of the stairs. I watched the white flashes of those little bunny feet adorned with their rainbow assortment of toe-beans as they hopped down two-by-two in front of me toward that flickering light of the TV in the living room, its color-changing reflection dancing across the floor, knowing that Ashley was down there waiting for me—that my family, my little tribe, everything I needed, was right there, waiting for me to come down so we could celebrate simply being together—and the immense gratitude I had for that precious instant washed over me so powerfully that it paralyzed me for a moment.
I took out my phone, I made a note about what I’d felt, and I said, “Don’t forget these moments. They seem like they’ll always be there, but they won’t be. Cherish them.” On November 10th, 8 months to the day after I made that note, we found out Bits has cancer. Before long, all of my walks downstairs will be alone—our little tribe 1/3rd smaller—the world sapped of some of its color and wonder and love and warmth. I won’t be anyone’s “papa” anymore. I will stand at the top of the stairs and see those white flashes only in my memory. But thank goodness that, for a moment in March, for some mysterious reason, I stopped and appreciated what I had and made that note.
Don’t forget these moments. They seem like they’ll always be there, but they won’t be. Cherish them.
I know that Bits is not a collection of cells—that she is every bit as much a product of nearly 2 decades of love and interaction with us and the world around her as she is her DNA. I know that genetically preserving her is not a way to bottle those experiences and revisit them on command—that would diminish their magic. I know you can’t clone a “soul”, and her’s was far too unique to even imagine doing so. But what ViaGen and their incredibly compassionate staff offers is an ability to intertwine the moments you’ve cherished so much in a familiar face with a new set of memories that will carry you into the future—one that will have every bit as many of those moments for us as we did with Bits