A few months after moving in together in 2008, in our derelict one-bedroom on Spring Garden above our basement-dwelling neighbor who yelled sporadically throughout the day and night, John and I decided to get a cat. She favored men (and therefore John), but was snuggly enough with me too, and instantly made our apartment feel more like a home.
I didn’t want to write about this, but I’m weak when it comes to dealing with death, and getting it all out in a poorly-edited blog post is better than mentioning it in passing to friends and family. Maybe this way, I can warn you what not to say (“I’m sorry” – honestly, does this ever make anyone feel better? And what do I even say in response…”it’s okay?”) Maybe this way, I can be a little more eloquent in sharing what she meant to me, because in person, I’ll just grumble about cars speeding on our road and say I knew it was coming, eventually. I did know, but knowing doesn’t do anything to prepare you for the inevitable.
John and I had just finished breakfast on Monday, the day after I got back from a week in Nurnberg and dropped my grandmother and mom off at the guest house. I was drinking Wawa’s Pumpkin Spice coffee and thinking back to when John and I would get in our car and drive the half-mile to the gas station for our daily fall fix. Then, our neighbor knocked at the door.
“Is this your cat?”
I’d sort of written her off as a crazy cat lady, as her backyard (visible from our house) is always a mess, and she always has strays roaming around. But when I saw how upset she was, holding a limp and lifeless Zora in her hands, I realized that I’m a crazy cat lady too, and in no place to judge. Zora was always running into the street, with her no-fear attitude and penchant for rolling around on the curb and getting dirty in the sunshine. I don’t know how many times I heard cars honking, thinking “shit, Zora,” and shaking my head in disapproval at her careless behavior. But, she’s a cat, and she was never happy cooped up in our tiny flat. We knew we were taking a risk letting her roam outside, but her palpable happiness as she pranced around in the garden, and on that busy street, somehow made it worth it. At least that’s what I’m telling myself, to avoid playing “What if?” over and over in my head and wishing we kept her confined to our small quarters.
I want to fast forward a few months, hoping to lighten this burden, this loss. There’s nothing I can do to feel better right now, and it’s hard, and it sucks. That’s about as eloquent as I can be. I’ve lost pets before, and I know others who have shared this experience can relate (what a weird concept, by the way- losing a person or animal. I didn’t misplace them; they died).
Maybe I can just take comfort in knowing that everything dies eventually, or breaks, and that fact doesn’t take away the good memories that were created along the way. Zora was family, and I’ll always miss her, but I’m glad we had 6 years together. They were good ones.