PART 1— The last day.
The vet’s been called. And now I’m painting.
Hard decisions have been made. Our little tortoiseshell girl who was on the edge six weeks ago, then rallied like no one could believe — returning to almost her perfect nineteen year old self — has come to another edge. But this time she’s leaning over it so far there’s no coming back.
The vet is due at 5 p.m. and all day I flip-flop between wanting it to be 5 p.m. and 1994. I move between tending to her on the couch and milling about the kitchen where I can see her, where I’m preparing to paint cupboards that don’t especially need painting.
And I wonder why about the cupboards until I receive an email from a friend with a link to a quilting blog and I think how odd… I don’t quilt. I used to sew but the friend doesn’t know that. It’s a puzzle, this gift of a quilting link, and yet it reminds me of one of the last times I actually enjoyed sewing — years ago, when we had three cats. When the first of those three died, in the days right after, I sewed like crazy. Hideous things no one needed. Carrier bags and pillow cases in cabbage rose and bright pink patchwork.
And then it occurs to me that when the second of those cats died I dug over a new garden bed where a new garden bed was not required.
I simply needed to dig.
The majority of the painting will happen later. For now I just need to set the stage, to make a mess that must be dealt with, ensuring I’ll have an activity when I can’t think of what I’m supposed to do in the absence of a face I love.
The tins of paint, the taped cupboards, will be a blessing then.
PART 2— THE FIRST DAY
It was summer, 1994. We were having dinner. A loud mewling, a wail through an open window. I went out to see what it was and found a young tortoiseshell cat crouched at the base of the cedar hedge. Our two indoor cats were watching. I wanted to assure them no strangers would be tolerated. I chased the tortoiseshell away. I returned to the dinner table. The wailing resumed. Back outside, I chased the cat again and again but each time it turned and followed me. Finally, with conviction and some seriously stern language, I picked the little bugger up and carried it out of the yard.
It purred in my arms.
I called the Humane Society.
Luckily, there were no lost cats fitting her description.
We named her Cuddles.
PART 3— ALL THAT BEAUTIFUL BIT IN THE MIDDLE…