To Sleep, Perchance…

What are you looking at? Boppies aren't just for babies.

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I lie very still trying not to move. I don’t want to break the illusion that I am sound asleep. I feel eyes boring into me, watching the rhythm of my breathing, waiting for the sign that I am awake. It’s not the kids. Their sense of self preservation tells them not to rouse their napping mother. There’s only one with the intestinal fortitude to poke a sleeping dragon. It’s the cat, curled tightly beside me, hopeful.

I open one eye, and she greets me with a little chirp that is half-purr, half-meow, all hopeful. I close my eye  and remain very still. She is onto me, however. After a moment or two, I can’t take the pressure and open my eyes. Again the friendly little greeting, but she doesn’t yet leave her post. I make eye contact. That’s all the invitation she needs. She is in my face in the blink of a sleepy eye. I feel her Friskies-breath as she bumps my chin. Impatiently she curls her head under my hand. “Pet me!” she says clearly. “Pet me NOW!” How can I resist?

She’s an ancient animal, a relic from the beginning of our marriage, our first baby. The little bag of bones, all eyeballs and distended belly, that followed us out of the woods, crying hopefully “Please don’t leave me!” The  waif who bit me in her haste to get to the proffered food and sent us into rabies quarantine. She was my only company that first long year when my husband worked residential shifts two hours away, returning home every 3 days if we were lucky. What adventures we have had!

Adore me

The old girl senses my weakness and begins the purr and pace routine that ensures that every one of her  itchy spots receive attention. If I flag, she’s more than willing to nudge my hand, to remind me what I was put here for.

I think of all the water that has passed under my bridge in the years since this cat found us. 7 moves in 2 different states, college graduation, three kids, two other cats (for which she has never forgiven us completely), reptiles too numerous to count, several dogs, all of whom learned their place within the first 24 hours. She has forever been my nap-buddy, quick to curl up on my chest as a kitten, or beside me when she grew too big. I can’t bear to think about the day when I wake up without her. She has always been there. I wish she always could be.

Here's to many more years together, precious one

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46 thoughts on “To Sleep, Perchance…

  1. Hey, totally off-topic, but you mentioned being interested in 20 Questions, and I’d love to interview you for it, but I can’t find an email for you. If you’d really be interested, drop me an email at maclymont@gmail.com so I can send you the questions.

    Back on topic, I was awoken this morning by a cat who sat by my head wondering if I thought it would be fun to go outside. Wouldn’t that be fun? To go outside? Right now?

  2. I had a cat growing up, Thomasina. I had her from when I was 8 to 28. That’s a lot of life changes to be shared with your kitty. She snuggled and was my companion and I missed her terribly when she passed. I bawled the ugly cry for days. Strange how these creatures live in our hearts.

  3. This is how I feel about Wicket, our toy poodle. We never meant to get a toy poodle (we thought that if we got a dog, it would be some sort of herding-type dog that Mr. Sandwich could take on his runs). But then a small ball of tangled fur walked up to him outside the corner store and put her paw on his foot.

    He brought her home, and we bathed her and bought her some food, bedding, and a leash and collar (she had no collar, tags, or chip). We posted signs, created online listings, and took her to the shelter. Her original owner never came for her, so we went back to the shelter and brought her home. I was four and a half months pregnant, and coming home from work to sit on the back porch and pet her helped keep my blood pressure down for much of my pregnancy.

    She’s been a furry little angel with Baguette, who spent months pulling her fur and ears–but Wicket would just stand there and take it, if she hadn’t managed to elude the baby in time. We recently saw just how amazing this was, when we spent a weekend with family who have a new Kelpie puppy who Just! Wanted! to Play! with Wicket! And Wicket was not putting up with that nonsense, barking and snapping and feinting at this impertinent puppy (note: my cousins were cheering Wicket on the entire time). But with Baguette, she remains gentle and tolerant beyond measure.

    I worry about the day when she leaves us, because everyone’s best guess is that she’s 13 or 14 now. And we’ve only had two years with her. But I also know that, given the state her teeth were in when she arrived, we’ve given her two years she wouldn’t have had without us. And there’s no doubt, when you see this dog, that they’ve been two happy years. I just hope we get more, because I had no idea how much I was going to love a dog.

  4. I lost my dog 2 years ago and I felt the same way about her as you feel about your cat. I could not imagine her ever leaving me or having to make the decision to say good-bye. I am still not over missing her. Pets are like children or even partners. It was like losing a little bit of my heart the day I found out she passed (she dies unexpectedly when she was under anesthesia while getting her teeth cleaned) so not being able to say a proper good-bye still haunts me. I think I did not stop crying for a week and if it weren’t for my kids looking so worried about me, I think I would have had a hard time pulling myself together.
    The sweetest (and yet still a bit morbid) thing I have is a family portrait that my daughter (a kindergartener at the time) drew where she included Maddie… in a urn. I got a call from her teacher about that one.

    • It’s apparent that Maddie’s loss had an impact on your daughter, as well. My kids don’t think much about the pets because they’ve just always been there. But one day, they will suddenly NOT be, and their absence will be felt.

  5. Cute kitty. We’re in a similar situation: we have a cat that we have had since we first got married. It’s been a long time, and she is now having liver problems. She keeps on trucking for now, but it’s never easy to see a loved one in a weakened state. I guess we just need to cherish the time we still have while we can.

  6. My cats (my very large, kind of chubby cats) when i was growing up used to wake my dad up by both of them (both very heavy cats) sitting on his chest and carefully prodding his face with their damp noses, should he dare to not awaken as early as they’d like him to, for food and cleaning of litter. He said it was like those nightmares where your alarm gets integrated into the dream world, only he’d be dreaming of being suffocated in the rain.

  7. I love cats. I told my friend the other day that I think I’m a cat person who keeps trying to be a dog person. I like dogs too, but I never thrill at a dog story the way I do at a cat story. 🙂

  8. I just can`t describe how you get attached to this perfection. My first one died 2 years ago and I cried for months. A year and a half a new cat came into my home and to tell the truth I wasn`t happy about it `cause the memory of my old friend was just too fresh. But this…this…crazy creature is so different that you just have to love her!

    Enjoy the time you are spending with this cutie:))))

  9. I love this very tender look at a truly loving relationship. The shame is that we lose our beloved pets too quickly. You have such a mutually giving and sharing thing with your “ancient animal”, that it’s heartwarming. Thanks so much for sharing.

  10. I can only appreciate cats in photos and from a safe distance, about 50 feet and preferably through a closed window since I am so deathly allergic to these critters. Yet, I must say that Piper with her beautiful markings and vibrant green eyes does look like one that would be wonderful to cuddle if the ability to breathe was not a priority.

    • The totally ridiculous part is that I’m deathly allergic AND asthmatic. The animal control officer told us our options were to keep the kitten for 10 days or send her head to a lab. So we kept the kitten. And then couldn’t dream of getting rid of her.

  11. (sigh) My cat talks to us, especially me. I love it. I call her name or meow loudly and she comes running to chat with me. When we go to bed we chat awhile, just waiting for Snickers to announce her entrance into the room with a meow and then walk across our pillows, tromping on my hair, in search of a wayward hair tie. She eventually settles down across Joe’s belly until we are almost asleep when she pitter patters to the foot of the bed. She too is our first and RULES the roost. I love her.

  12. My oldest cat is nineteen. He’s both ornery and clingy, and he wants me up at 4:15. He drives me crazy, but when he doesn’t come to bed, instead of being relieved, I go get him.

  13. What a sweet post about your kitty. She’s a beautiful cat!

    I have a nap buddy, too. My cat likes to sleep on my head at night and sometimes chokes me when she walks over my neck, but I know it’s an accident. She must be over us getting the other cats nearly 3 years ago, right?

  14. Your beautiful post almost made me want to get a cat. She is so fortunate to have found such a patient owner and an adoring one. Awesome!

  15. That is the sweetest, the cutest, the mostest, the coolest :). I am a cat person and I thank you for writing an ode to your cat lol. Seriously, the world is so full of dog lovers I am considering a boycott. Unfortunately, that would not work since I have a deep love for all animals, non reptile.

    As a lifelong pet owner and animal lover, i totally get it. Hope your wish comes true.

  16. I tell people I am a dog person, but I want to BE a cat ! every once in a while I wonder if felines are not a higher intelligentce alien breed.
    My cat has been with me 16 years – almost don’t remember life before her….

  17. Aahh, memories…Lushka, a Tonkinese…soul-buddies, bed-buddies, play-buddies, comfort-buddies…we knew each other’s minds. A tender relationship no-one could breach. Yours is a very fond reminder…thank you! :OD

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