Fragility in fur.

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Zen, August 2017.

Zen, August 2017.

Born and forged in hothouse Alabama, Zen is a creature of heat. Throughout this week’s heat wave, she has sought out the warmest parts of our home. Like the corner of the eaves which — despite sounding like a place of great magical power in a children’s book series — is an infernal pocket of breath-sucking dryness. When not upstairs, Zen lounged on her heating pad during our 100°+ days.

I caught her once or twice splayed out on the wood floors, cooling herself off, but then she’d heft herself up and trek upstairs.

Stairs don't faze Zen, not even at 20. #tortitude

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This morning, the heat has let up a bit. Zen has found a patch of sunshine. In photos like this one, I can pretend I don’t see the gauntness that has partially deflated her football shape. Zen has always loved the heat, but now she needs it because she doesn’t have the padding that used to keep her warm. Kneeling before her, half-dappled in sunlight, I bury my face in her fur. She hooks one paw over my forearm and kneads, purring, while my fingertips graze the tiny ridges of her vertebrae. Maybe soon, I think, but not yet.

Not yet.