For Pauline, Mark, Kirstyn, Reese and Alyse. And most of all, for Paizlie.
It wasn’t love at first sight when I met you. I thought, oh, you’re cute but I didn’t give you much thought afterwards. Just another pet in the family menagerie. It wasn’t personal. You see I’m allergic to cats and even the hairless ones like you affect me. That’s why I rarely picked up your big sister, Zadie, and always closed the door to the bedroom in case either of you decided to go in there.
One evening, when the family was gathered in the living room to watch a movie, you came up onto my lap and proceeded to put your front paws on my chest and do that kneading thing that cats do. It hurt. A lot. But for some reason I let you. We all laughed about it. Look what this crazy cat is doing? But I kept holding you and you dozed off.
After that whenever I’d sit in the living room you seemed to know and would jump onto my lap, get cozy on the blanket and decide it was nap time.
Once, you didn’t come find me, and while I wondered where you were, I didn’t really pay much attention at the time. Then one of the kids came home.
“Look what I found in the garage.”
It was you, held up high in the air like a trophy. You were always getting into things and into places that would have us scratching our heads wondering how you got there. That’s why we also called you Spicy. You were an escape artist. Bolting out the door and into the snow. Silly cat, don’t you know you don’t have a fur coat? After that, if you weren’t with me when I was in the living room, I wanted to at least know you were okay somewhere in the house.
Then one day I was in Alyse’s room listening to music and reading. I had left the door open and I saw you come in. I was always shooing you out of the bedroom but you caught me in a lazy moment. You hopped onto the bed and walked around it a bit. Then I could feel your paws on my back. Really? This entire bed and that’s where you want to be? And you fell asleep. After that, I actively sought you out too.
Part of me is glad I wasn’t the one to find your body. Part of me is sad that I couldn’t have been with Pauline when she did. You did your escape artist thing again only this time nobody was around to notice. You were that good and your timing that bad. Silly cat, don’t you know you don’t have a fur coat? Don’t you know that your humans have to go to work or be at school?
Were you scared? I hope and pray that you just fell asleep.
I’d been trying to rationalize my feelings because I didn’t understand why I could feel so much sorrow over losing you. You weren’t even my cat for goodness sakes. This made no sense to me at all. Do you represent some childhood loss that’s bubbling up to the surface? Is it because you were so young and would never get a chance to grow and catch up with those giant ears of yours? Are you a symbol of something missing in my life that I mourn? Are you the sadness that I feel at times because hundreds of miles separate me from my own human family?
But I realize the answer is quite simple and ultimately more painful to look at.
I loved you.