It’s a good day. I make it downstairs and over to the back door. I stand in the doorway, inhaling the cool, morning air. Then I step outside and crouch down to fuss over the excitable and hungry white cat at my feet. “Hello, Melody!” I exclaim, as she rolls over for me to rub her fluffy stomach. She miaows in annoyance when I stop, but when she realises I’m filling her food bowl she suddenly approves, and tucks in before I’ve finished.
It’s a bad day. I’m lying in bed, with the window closed and curtains shut, because the light and noise from the busy street is too much. My eyes are closed and I’m willing myself to turn over, as even that’s hard work on a day like today. My books and crafts sit untouched on the bedside table. But then my husband opens the door, and a streak of white trots into the room. Melody sniffs the chair, the bedclothes and the dressing table, then jumps onto the duvet. She’s looking at me, trotting up and down the length of the bed, as if she’s assessing the situation. I stroke her a few times and she chooses a space to plop down on, lifting her head so that I can scratch her chin. Purring contentedly, she settles down for a sleep, as if she’s decided that that’s just what the situation calls for. The weight of her fluffy body against mine is soothing, and her purring relaxes me. She puts her paw on my hand as she drifts off to sleep, her purrs turning into a long, happy sigh. Melody came home with us four and a half years ago, at a very difficult time for me. My mum had died of cancer a few months earlier, and unsurprisingly I was struggling with my grief. I was keen to have a cat, a pet that I could love and care for, at such a tumultuous time. Melody fitted the bill purrfectly. She was very affectionate, and definitely a homebody.
At that time, I hadn’t realised that she would comfort me through ME too. Although I was diagnosed in 2022, the symptoms had, like for so many of us, been evident long before that. Melody would snooze next to me as PEM kept me in its clutches, before I knew for sure that it even was PEM. In late 2022, my symptoms began to increase and my world became much smaller. This fluffy white cat would play an even larger role in my days.
Melody doesn’t judge me at all. I don’t worry that I don’t look ill enough, or look too ill, for her. Whether I’m dressed, or wearing pyjamas, she loves me just the same. Whether I’m in bed, or walking around, she loves me just the same. She never thinks it’s strange when I’m in bed at any time of day, or that I haven’t brushed my hair. Also, Melody doesn’t worry about the future, which is so easy for people with ME to fall into. She’s only thinking about the moment she’s in, and I try to emulate that. I don’t know if tomorrow will be a good day, but I try not to dwell on it.
Melody will venture as far as our garden, and even on a bad day she will keep me entertained as I watch her from the window. Seeing her prowling through the bushes or sitting on top of her cat tree, tail swishing as she surveys her territory, can be the lift I need when I feel so poorly.
In return, I will always make sure the meals, treats and cheek rubs keep coming!