by Sharon Randall
Scripps Howard News Service
March 30, 2005
She keeps trying to figure out why he left her - and when exactly is he coming back.
She doesn't talk about it, but she doesn't have to tell me.
Loss is a universal language and it has no need for words.
Yesterday, when he packed up his car and drove away with his clothes and his shoes and his books and his computer and his determined-to-leave-here smile, she sat by the window staring after his shadow, refusing to believe that this was it: After all these years - the best years of her life - he was moving out and moving on.
She had that awful look in her eyes - a mix of puzzlement and pain - as if life had just jumped up and bitten her on the nose.
You know the look. We've all seen it, or will, sooner or later, if only in the mirror.
I am older than she is, never mind by how much, and considerably better acquainted with the business of letting go.
You would think I could offer her some bit of wisdom, a few words of comfort, but no. All I want to say is: Snap out of it.
I mean, didn't she know this could happen? Didn't she realize no matter how much she loved him she couldn't count on keeping him forever? Can't she just be happy for him?
But I don't say any of those things, of course. It's too soon. You can't tell anybody anything until she's good and ready to hear it, and she is not nearly ready to hear it yet.
Besides, she never listens to anything I say. She's a cat.
I remember the first time I saw her, years ago, a few weeks before my husband died of cancer. I heard a scratch at the door and looked up to see a cat's nose pressed against the window. When my youngest, who was then 20, reached for the door, I shrieked.
"Don't you dare let that cat in this house, and whatever you do, don't feed her!"
That evening I went to the boy's room to say goodnight and found him snoring like a chain saw _ with the cat curled up and purring beneath his chin.
I was not pleased. But I also knew that animals can be good medicine.
More than once as a child I had taken comfort in a mangy dog. My son was about to lose his father. I'd be grateful for any comfort that came his way - even a cat - as long as it didn't try to sleep on my bed.
From the start, Miss Kitty made it painfully clear to any woman who dared to get in her way - first me, then his sister and more recently, his fiancee - that the boy belonged to her.
He still belongs to her, of course. He always will. But like it or not, she is going to have to learn to share him.
He's getting married soon to a wonderful young woman who loves cats as much as he does - even a cat that bites her.
They found a great apartment nearby, a deal too good to pass up. Just one problem: It doesn't allow pets. Not even a cat that's convinced she's human.
So for now, it seems, Miss Kitty is stuck with me - a woman who never wanted a cat in the first place, and who told the boy flat-out from the start not to let her in the house.
Life is just chock-full of little ironies, isn't it?
He promises to stop by every day to feed his cat and visit his mother.
I don't mind filling her bowl. I'll even clean her litter box, if I have to. But I absolutely, positively refuse to allow her to sleep on my bed.
Boys grow up and move out and move on with their lives, and their cats and their mothers get used to it.
When they're good and ready.
Contact her at P.O. Box 931, Pacific Grove, CA 93950,
or at randallbay(at)earthlink.net