The Marines or my cat?

A letter writer wants to join the Marines — but his cat is seriously ill. Is it wrong to put your life on hold for a cat?

There’s no rush, says our elder. You can move on with your career when you are ready.

Dear EWC

Hi! So for about a year now I’ve been seriously considering joining the Marines. I mean… I’m nervous about it, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that it’s the best thing for me to do, both personally and professionally. The only issue I’m having, the only thing really holding me back, is my cat. Her name is Missy, and she’s 10 years old. I’ve had her since she was only a month. I got her when I was 10. We grew up together. And I’m having trouble justifying leaving her. She’s my baby; she always has been. Recently she was diagnosed with cancer, and her vet says she has maybe 14 months left (but emphasizes that it could be longer). She’s better now, they performed surgery and she’s ‘healthy’ again. My family would take care of her if I was to leave, but the thing is, I’m her person. When I’m gone, my mom tells me that she cries for me. I’m the only person she’s really connected to in my family. I love her, but I don’t know if I should put my life on hold for ‘just a cat’. I can’t decide between my cat or my potential career. I’d really appreciate your insight. Thanks so much.

Excelsior replies

Our values are the most important part of who we are, and the way we relate to loved ones is one of them. That you wrote in to us in such strong words is an indication that you care extra deeply about love relationships, even for a beloved pet. That’s something that’s likely a deep-seated trait of yours. To deny that part of yourself by leaving Missy would in a sense be denying who you are. Consider looking back on this time when you’re in your fifties. What decision do you think you’d be glad you made about Missy back when you were 20?

You say you’ve been thinking of the Marines for a while, so it seems you’re in no rush to make a final move toward that goal. If you join the Marines now, not only would Missy (and I suspect you) would be distressed, but you run the risk of her dying without you by her side. And, if you leave, you may never see her again.

Having grown up with Missy is a once-in-a-lifetime thing; joining the Marines is not. Moving on with your life is a good thing; but as the captain of your ship, you give the orders over when you think it best to do that. No one else’s opinion matters. I hope these thoughts are helpful to you. Best wishes.

Letter #: 434507
Category: Career

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