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Underlying Conditions

Updated: May 4, 2023












My sweet cat Luna

has snuffled, and sneezed,

eyes dripping, nose running

since she was born

with eye herpes.


The virus is always with her,

an underlying condition

causing discomfort

but not a threat

to her life.


Now herpes has erupted

as a sinister thug.

An ulcer in her left eye

has blurred her vision,

her pupil no longer visible.


Wrapping her in a towel

I lift her sweet, soft face to mine,

open her left eye,

squeeze in the drops nine times a day.

Anxiety medication is keeping her calm.


Her underlying condition needs treatment.


So does mine.

The condition of paralyzing fear.

Of thinking there is a right way, and wrong way to live.

Of feeling overwhelmed by tasks,

small and large.

Keeping me from the work of life.


Perhaps my love for Luna

is my medicine for now.

Feeling the heartbreak of her suffering,

of knowing that she will someday die

compels me to take her to the vet,

again and again.


And when I think it’s too hard,

and feel overwrought with emotion,

her need for me to be a good caregiver

takes me out of myself,

out of my misguided ideas,

and turns my attention toward her care.


To actively loving her,

to the preciousness of her life,

to our lives together.

The escalation of Luna’s underlying condition

Helps me,

at least for the moment,


To overcome

underlying conditions that

for too many years

have kept me from living

and loving

my own life.





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