Coworker Sam is trying to pimp a new cat on me. In fact, when he found out the real reason why I missed a day of work—a late-night rush to the veterinary emergency room, then returning home with an empty cat carrier—he was beside himself. Offering compassion. Detailing his own time in the pet emergency room, leading to his own beloved cat’s death. Years earlier. Memory still close.
Other coworkers, also freakishly compassionate. Even the ones who also experienced deaths that week. Human deaths. BobCat’s passing somehow trumped those other tragedies. People with greater claims at grief fell over themselves. Expressing their condolences. For an animal they never met. Understood to have a much shorter lifespan.
I tried interrupting. Made light of BobCat’s passing. In turn, the coworkers interrupted me. Reminding: a pet is who we come home to. See daily. Working its way into every intimate detail of our lives. More so than another human. Therefore, the grief is harder. They were right. My brain then displayed a slide show of my gray cat, and those intimate details.
How he always greeted me dog-like, at my arrival. The opening front door often bonked his head. I still open it slowly, expecting him to be on the other side.
How he shed gray hair everywhere. Leading me to pulling clumps of my own hair from a hairbrush, and dumping it on BobCat. Asking, “How does that feel, cat?”
How I realized, like an old married couple growing together, I’d accidentally adopted his coloring. Wore more gray clothing. Bought a gray car. Didn’t realize what was happening until I mused, “What if I re-painted my home gray?” Then my eyes dropped onto the sleeping cat. A pile of gray fur exactly matching the gray bedspread.
Oh, the voodoo BobCat worked on me.
Sam encourages me to just get another kitty. I’m due for a fresh start. In fact, summer is the perfect time for that. It's birthing season. The shelter is full. Of little kittens. Take advantage of the two-for one deals! In fact, Sam has three cats. It’s perfectly fine to get two.
I agreed with him in theory. Went home. Told self I’d just get another gray cat. Who would meet me at the door. Just like BobCat. Who would panic when I took a bath. Just like BobCat. Who would sleep on the gray comforter just like BobCat and …
… then I got angry. Mentally yelled at New Cat. “No! Get off the bed! That’s BobCat’s place. You're not him. You can’t sleep there. Get off the bed and …”
I’m yelling at an imaginary cat.
Meaning ... I’m not ready for a new cat.
Some day I’ll get another one. A black one.
Less competition that way.
Some day. Just not now.