Time has become a mercurial substance, balling itself up in clusters on the calendar…a series of lunches or volunteer commitments cluster together until they resolve one by one. Until the moment they separate & each takes an identity of its own. Usually just when I thought I had it all together…it comes apart discretely.
I remember when my days were an unthought routine: up at 6, commuting by 7:30, leaving a bit early since traffic was always an unknown factor. Arrival, coffee, meetings, a lunch hour, emails, calls, an afternoon break for another coffee, gathering my life back into my purse to head for the garage park. Home to another routine of dinner, TV, conversation, chores & bedtime.
It’s different now or is it really? I cannot get far from routine even when I think I’m doing so.
I miss my little cat. I tell myself tiny stories, but I cannot keep the back door open or I will spend the day watching for her & her friends who came by for dinner & a shoulder rub. I cannot complain at 2 a.m. when she’d wake me for a night’s run & I’d bumble to the couch to curl into a different sleep, into strange-lit secondary dreams.
When I named her Dream, I did not think she would so easily become one. I did not see her ever hurt or stressed or physically unable to alight upon any height like a butterfly rising. She barely made contact but would suddenly appear in the space. She had a rusty voice & never hesitated to tell me what she was thinking. “Time to get up & let me out.” “Time for me to eat, whatcha got?” “Time for us to get to sleep…” Tho this last was a rarer call than the others. Sleeping for four straight hours in the daylight does not lend itself to sound slumber all night.
I cannot talk about her ending except the very last moments in the vet office when she rested her face into my cupped palm & breathed out her essence into my hand.
Was I being cruel to expect her to travel across the country with me? I had great accommodations with a large kennel which would hold litter within. I had plans on shifting her to a roomy carrier which would perch atop my wheelie suitcase entering the motel. I even had a bungee set aside (a blue one) to tether that for security. I had a harness, a leash, a plan for her food & comfort. Literally, with a snap of jaws it ended. Though I think I have cried it out, I have not cried out enough about the awful event. I know how quickly things happen, especially tragedies. I avoid thinking the unthinkable until it drapes itself across my eyeballs, unavoidable.
It comes enfilade, this watching of corners where she appeared, plumed tail tall & waving. It is never direct but by a corner & around a slant, I see her earnestly making her way. The baby next door squeals & I alert thinking Dream must want to come in now, must be at the door, must be slipping along the windowsill to let me know it’s time.
Like so many blameless happenings, I want to assign a blame. I want to take away the sure & certain terror she felt & remove all pain & wobble from her flight. She always walked fast, fur electric around her: a voice, an appearance, a pass-by, a dream within a dream.
A moment of horror & a life changes. Her brokenness becomes my memory when all I want to see is so completely different from that. A moment of sadness & my life is my own again, alone & awaiting, a-waiting.
I miss you, my baby-girl. I miss our conversations, your slanted looks, your comic demands. We weren’t a cuddly couple; you never spent an afternoon on my lap & I was quite content were you even on the couch nearby. You knew if you stared hard enough, I’d rise to resolve your want. I knew if I called out the backdoor at the end of the day you would dash toward me, each footfall prodding a vocalization.
My heart slips a notch, my eyes refill. Only recently after our year together did you stay near enough for me to stroke you, tho you loved being brushed. Only recently did a hope stutter-start that you might one night climb into bed with me & sleep by my side.
We steadied each other; studied each other. Love is sometimes a nightlight or a match-flame, nothing like a bonfire of vanities, but lit nonetheless for in all darkness, one candle is enough to illuminate a world.
Farewell, my kitty-kitty dream. I shall not forget your grace & gravitas. I am not diminished for having loved you well & a year is worth a thousand griefs. I know you have been lifted above all of it: but you were mine when you were you & I shall love that beyond time.
The love we shared is worth the grief we feel when that loved one is no longer with us. But that doesn’t lessen the pain of loss. Yet we go on, to love another way, another day.
I know the feeling too well. Your memories are safe. As M.F.K. Fisher concluded in her essay Spirits of the Valley, “All I dare hope, with perhaps some embarrassment for this unabashed gluttony, is that other people can open long-locked doors in their memories and enjoy some such rediscoveries of bliss and pain and beauty and foolishness and general enjoyment of our human condition.”