He wouldn’t have dared, if she was still with us. That was her spot.
She’d sit there in the evening, Mistress of All She Surveyed.
I think he misses her. He loved to bait and taunt her, and she loved to ignore him more often as she got older. He’s actually probably the child or grandchild of a previous rodent provocateur. But it’s game over, now.
The house, and the yard, have been very quiet since Sophie went. The scritching in the wall next to my desk, which drove me nuts for weeks, has stopped, with no corresponding smell that would indicate demise. Just a cessation of sound, signaling that whatever had been making it has finally chosen to vacate the premises.
The neighbor’s-from-two-streets-over cat, a wide ranging tabby, had taken up residence under our deck. This cat has been coming around for a few years, and looks exactly like a cat that showed up at my Mom’s house all the way on the other side of town shortly after Mom died, acting like she owned the place. Like we were supposed to open up and let her the hell into HER house. It could be the same cat, for all I know. The neighbors said she really gets around – had to chip her because she kept turning up so far afield.
I’ve found her on our roof from time to time, or up on the deck railing (also Sophie’s spot – where she’d come to the kitchen window to ask to be let back into the house.)
But a few days ago, that tabby came out from under the deck (better her than the former resident, a huge skunk, or the raccoons before that) and she hasn’t been back.
I honestly think these creatures know that Sophie is gone, and are mourning her in their way.
As I was regarding that chipmunk, sitting where Sophie sat last Saturday evening, her last, as it turned out, I decided to take a picture rather than shoo him off the deck. He looked forlorn.
Just then, the hummingbird that my daughter had reported sighting several times appeared, closer to the house than the chipmunk, and lowered itself elegantly into the cupped petals of the tulips I had planted for Mike, so he’d have flowers to look at during his ceaseless rounds of dishwashing, before the kitchen was redone.
And here was that hummingbird, a symbol of Mike to me, sinking gently into those tulips, and of course zipping out and out of sight, when I tried to creep silently (not so silently, I guess) out of the house to get a closer look.
The chipmunk took off as soon as my footsteps sounded on the deck’s planks.
Somehow I found comfort in these creatures this morning.
It was as if they were paying their respects.
My daughter continues her daily, sighing expression, “I miss Dad,” now recited as, “I miss Dad and I miss Sophie.”
But a few days after we said goodbye to Sophie, she also said, for the first time in the nearly three years since Mike died, “I went to the gathering for Dorothy Elaine (her grandmother.) I liked the gathering for Dorothy Elaine. When is a gathering for Dad?”
I dissolved. How was I going to explain to her that it was much too late for that? That, because of decisions Mike had made and because of how he had chosen to circumscribe his life, it was already too late for that a decade before we even knew he was sick?
There were four people at Mike’s burial – me, our daughter, our pastor and the hospice chaplain, who had quickly become Mike’s friend in the last week or two of his life, through a shared love of poetry, discovered in the first few minutes of their first conversation.
“Remember that beautiful day, sweetheart? The day we put the stone box with Daddy’s ashes into the ground at his gravesite? We read the poems, and you and I both chose beautiful flowers to leave for Dad? That was his gathering, sweetheart – there won’t be another one.”
And there won’t be one for Sophie, because I said no when the vet asked if we wanted the ashes. Didn’t think about processing time for her, to ask, and me, to decide. So too late for that, now, as well.
But I will tell her about the chipmunk, and the neighbor’s cat and the hummingbird, who seem to have organized a “gathering” of their own – one that seemed to me to be an acknowledgement of Sophie’s absence and a kind of farewell.
Didn’t sleep much last night, so we slept away today’s gloomy, grey, rainy, quiet, almost peaceful, morning.
So long, Soph.
With this final farewell to my feline friend, I remain, your struggling but starting to surface again,