Almost exactly a year ago, my cat died. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time:
We buried our cat today. She was fifteen years old and had been ill for a while– frail and fragile and not eating very well. I knew she was dying. I thought I was ready for the day, but when she didn’t come home yesterday, and then last night, with the rain coming down in torrents, my heart prepared for the worst.
I thought about her all day at work. Maybe she had squeezed into an open cupboard in the garage. Maybe she was stuck in a closet somewhere. But surely I would have heard her delicate mew like I always did when I called her.
After work, I walked around the house, called her name, which was Cat because nothing else really seemed to fit. She had adopted us and had been a perfect fit for our young family– aloof in that wonderfully cat-like way, but also eager for a lap and a snuggle now and then. I looked for her under favorite bushes and trees where she would cool herself on warm summer days. Then I opened the back gate to look into the field, and that’s where I saw her, half way down the hill, a raggedy white heap of fur. I called her name, still clinging to the hope that she was alive. But she didn’t move, and I knew that she was gone.
I hated the idea of leaving her there until my husband got home from work, but I didn’t have the courage to go through the deep green grass and bury her alone.
It took too long for him to come back from work. I kept going outside and looking down at her there, drowning in that impossibly green grass. I was worried about the crows or turkey vultures or- whatever- getting to her before we could. I watched over her from a distance until I was so cold I couldnt’ anymore. I tried to occupy myself with chores around the house, like putting the dishes away– there were the treats we were trying to get her to eat. Putting stuff away in the garage– there was her litter box. You know how it is. Everything becomes a sudden reminder when the day before those same things were practically invisible in their mundane normalcy.
Yes, I know she was just a cat, but no one who has ever lost a pet would ever put the “just a” in front of their pet’s name with any real conviction.
Finally, Michael came home. Lucky for us, the soil was soft. We wrapped her body in an old red towel. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t, as Michael lifted her already frozen body from the deep grass and into the hole. I didn’t want to see her face, but I couldn’t look away, one last time. But it wasn’t her I saw; not any more. And so now, I have to force that last second image out of my brain and replace it with all the ones I have from the years when she shared our house and our lives. Blue-eyes, apricot nose and ears, long soft fluffy white fur and tail.
Good-bye sweet Cat. You had us longer than any other pet of mine. And I am going to miss you.
What made me think about this is that yesterday I was working out in my backyard. Saturday’s rains had washed the sky into a luminescent blue and the fields are once again a glowing green. I dumped some leaves into the field and looked down to the place where we had buried Cat and thought about her, and how she had died just one year ago.
I went back to my work, returned to dump some more leaves, and as I looked down into the field again, saw with amazement a white cat sitting in almost the expect spot where we had found our own cat’s lifeless body. This cat bore an eery resemblance to our own, with the signature apricot ears and nose and piercing blue eyes. I spoke to her, and she meowed at me and quickly ran away. I had never seen this particular cat in our neighborhood before. Maybe by remembering Cat, I had conjured up her sweet spirit. At any rate, it was a very strange coincidence that made me think of the journal entry I had written the day she died.