It’s a little ironic that my last post in May talked about “the week that got away from me”, because May itself turned out to be the month that got away from me.
Mid-May, we lost our cat, Dexter. It was both expected – and very unexpected. Expected because Dexter was 16 and a half years old, which is old for a cat, especially a pure-bred one (she was a Devon Rex). And unexpected because it all seemed to happen so quickly. Within the space of a few weeks, she’d suddenly lost all this weight and become almost skin and bones. Still her normal, ornery and plucky self, until the night she wasn’t.
The vet explained to us that, unlike dogs, who will let you know when something’s wrong, cats tend to stay mum about their health until the very last stages.
It’s been difficult for us, and especially for my son Sean. Dexter was mainly Sean’s cat – she’d sit on his lap while he played on the Xbox or the computer, and it was his bed she’d sleep in every night.
One of the hardest things about parenting is seeing your child in such grief, and knowing you can’t do anything about it, except let him grieve, let him ride out his grief.
Things have been returning back to normal, but it still feels like Dexter’s around. I see cat shadows everywhere, in all her usual places. I’ll be in the kitchen getting something, and for a second I catch a glimpse of her enormous bat-like ears and big eyes peering at me from around the fridge, where we kept her food and water bowl. Or in the afternoons, when the sun comes pouring into the living room, there have been moments when I would swear she’s in her usual sunny perch on the back of the sofa, stretched full out, glorying in all the sun’s rays.
Cats have a way of getting into your heart. Dexter was never “my” cat – she’d always been more Sean’s and Hayley’s. But in the evenings when Sean wasn’t home, she’d sometimes deign to sit next to me on the sofa while I read. Or she’d stand in the kitchen and look at me, twitching her big ears, and meow that loud meow, demanding food or maybe fresh water. She had a knack of getting all of us to feed her at separate times; we used to joke that she was meowing, “I’ve been starving all day. No-one’s fed me, not even a little bit”, even though one or the other of us had just fed her mere minutes before.
This apartment feels strange with her gone. And at the same time, all the cat shadows make it feel like she’s not really gone.