On a stack of cardboard boxes by the window, sits the black cat that has arrived to heal my Susie’s most recent wound. She lost Peechee not too long ago. The domestic feline had been a member of our family for nearly fourteen years: Her pet when she lived at home, mine when she went to college and Michael’s and hers when they moved to San Diego. Now Peechee is gone and though his departure was expected, it has left a void around their lovely home and a deep sorrow in the lives of Susie and Michael who loved him fiercely.
During the first week, Susie could not talk about it and nothing we said came out right. She went through grief with knowledge and grace and mourned for him like a mother mourning the loss of a child. For months she kept his things around: The bowls of food and water, his favorite bed, toys, and even the blue ribbon he loved to tug at. It was as if she expected him back. Then again, maybe she wanted to keep the house unchanged so his spirit could roam around with ease. I couldn’t mention it, but worried for my child and sometimes wondered if she’d ever be back to her normal cheerful self.
Weeks later, I hoped and prayed as she and Michael went to LA to look at another cat, but when they came back empty-handed, I gave up. Those we love and lose can never be replaced and I hoped they weren’t looking for another Peechee.
Then came Violet, and she made her way into their home as gently and gracefully as she is. Had she been mine, I would have called her “Dot”. She’s all black except for one white dot at the end of her tail. Susie says there’s a small white patch on her belly, too, but I haven’t seen it. Maybe the cat doesn’t know me enough to show me her belly, yet. We bonded right away. In fact, she comes to me with such an unexpected ease that I’m sure it’s because I speak Persian. I don’t know if a Persian owned her before or if she has some Persian blood in her little veins. The fact remains that she likes me and, despite my allergy, I loved her right away.
She sits there by the window, perched on boxes of Susie’s art that are ready to be mailed and looks out into the parking lot. Is she waiting for Michael to come home?
“No,” Susie says in response and she throws the blue ribbon for Violet to catch. “She just loves sitting there and sometimes does it for hours.” She chuckles. “She’s so funny, Mom. Watch this. She’s the only cat I know who will fetch!” She throws a fake mouse to the corner and Violet runs and brings it back to her.
I listen to the high notes in my Susie’s chirp and know grief has reached the next stage. The pain in her voice is now buried so deep that it can no longer be heard. Life is a chain of attachments and detachments that help to make us more resilient. Hope is back in the form of a black fur ball, looking out the window, assuring me that there’s plenty more love in my Susie’s generous heart.