Thursday, May 3, 2012
"A Cat in the House"
Jackson was a very sad cat. As the days passed with him in our home he slept a lot, never purred and refused to be picked up. Every morning he woke me at 5:30 with his insistent meows begging for breakfast. As I opened the pantry door to get his food, he’d rub up against my leg, thrilled at the thought of being fed. I'm sure this was the highlight of his day.
By 7:30 AM he was curled up behind the bedroom door alone, sleeping again. He was a very sad cat. I thought about his life before he came to us: 1) Locked out of a house when he was just a kitten; 2) Rescued by a big-hearted woman, Peggy, who brought him home and adopted him; 3) Abandoned by her when she got sick with cancer, went to the hospital and passed away. He never had the chance to say good-bye. 4) Then living alone for months in her empty condo.
I found a poem by a female Polish poet called “A Cat in the House”
Die—you can’t do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
In an empty apartment?
Climb the walls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here,
But nothing is the same.
Nothing has been moved,
But there’s more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.
--Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012)
Being left alone in a house must be miserable for a pet, especially when every day his surrogate mother never returns home. Jackson’s grief over losing Peggy was something he needed to work through and I wanted to help.
The next day after I fed him he slunk back behind the door to sleep. I followed and sat on the floor next to him. I stroked his coat with my hand; softly petting him. He turned away from me. When I continued to pet him he rotated his head back to me, his eyes filled with hesitation. I gently pet him on his head, under his neck, across his back, over and over. Then deep in his throat, my finger felt movement.
I felt him purr.