This morning, as every morning, I roll out of bed, slap on my slippers, hit the bathroom, start the coffee, wake up the computer. But this isn’t every morning.
This morning, for the first morning since 1976, I am catless.
This morning, I do not check, before rolling out of bed, for a cat between me and the edge of said bed. No: in all honesty, I do. I suspect I will continue to check for many mornings to come. Perhaps I should say, there is no longer any need to check, as there is no cat not to crush.
This morning, as I shuffle down the hall towards the bathroom, I do not check for black cat on dark wood floor in my path. And yes, again, I do. The next few weeks are going to be full of learning new behaviors and habits.
This morning, I do not (and this time, I truly do not) check the bathroom floor for tracked bits of cat litter as I sat on the toilet. I do not check the litter box for nocturnal deposits. Instead, I stare at the empty space where the litter box used to be.
This morning, I do not clean the food and water bowls on the kitchen floor while the coffee pot runs. Those bowls, I cleaned up for the final time yesterday. I did not discard them, however; they are lovely Mary Alice Hadley earthenware bowls from a complete dinnerware set my then-in-laws gave my then-husband and me when we married. I kept the cat-related parts (different cat, at the time) when we divorced. I let my ex keep the rest, out of some sense of fairness (his parents, his stuff). He is dead now, too, as are his parents. The bowls live in my china cabinet.
This morning, I do not split tiny thyroid pills into halves and then one half into quarters, nor crush one-half plus one-quarter pills into a tiny amount of Friskies Liver & Chicken Dinner Classic Paté (the Friskies label includes the accent aigu but not the circumflex, for some reason) and wait to be sure every fraction of a milligram was ingested; nor do I rinse and refill the bowl with Purina Fancy Feast with ocean fish & salmon and accents of garden greens. All feline medications, as well as Friskies and Purina products, were removed from my kitchen yesterday, for disposal or donation.
This morning – and this afternoon, and this evening – I will no doubt still listen for any rhythmic hacking sounds that might indicate reverse peristalsis occurring down the hall. I still marvel that, despite the legendary untrainability of cats, there exists a cat who learned to head for such easy-to-clean hard surfaces at such times. No: there existed.
This morning, afternoon, and evening, I will no doubt look around periodically to make sure everything is ok with the feline member of this household, only to remember there is no longer a feline member of this household. I will not need to push the laptop back or close it when I leave it unattended to forestall unpredictable cat-on-keyboard effects. I will not need to sweep up, pick off, or wipe down cat hair from any surface or fabric. I may even retire the giant green blanket that has covered the sofa that was so new six years ago I did not want it shed upon, the sofa whose beautiful warm grey-blue is only seen on special occasions. The sofa that, remarkably, bears not a single scratch mark. Because there exists – existed – a cat who was willing to live with that restriction, as long as other options were available.
This morning, afternoon, and evening, when I stretch out on that sofa to read, watch TV, do a crossword puzzle, or listen to a course lecture, I will no doubt anticipate a cat jumping up to lie on my hip/stomach/ribs, to purr in my ear. No such jump will occur. My coffee table no longer bears a slicker brush for such moments. I will not need to find a way to slither out from underneath to get coffee or tea or answer the phone, then attempt to recreate the cooperative positioning when I return.
This evening when I get into bed, I will not need to slip under the covers around a cat sleeping squarely in the middle of the bed, only to have said cat move to the space immediately to the left of my pillow as soon as I’ve negotiated that task. I will not have a warm purr machine at the ready, waiting only for a few strokes of the fur to engage. I will not scratch the underside of a chin, nor will I tangle my forearm amongst feline legs and tail. I may whisper, “Good girl,” but no one will hear me.
Or maybe someone will.