my best friend was a cat

george died last week.

DSC_0460she died like she lived: freely and patiently.  i was close by, crying.  i sat on the floor beside her, my hand on her back as she exhaled her last breath.  i watched, a little stunned, as her body went stiff, then stilled.  we were in the basement.  i was shocked at the sound of her last breath.  shocked at the movement of her legs…which seemed to force this air out…or was a bi-product of the leaving.  this dying was something between beauty and ugly.  something so raw.  something i don’t understand.  the girls were upstairs.  ezra kept calling me.  “when are you coming up?”  i called back crying.  “george is dying now.  just wait please.”  george’s dying was short.  ezra didn’t have to wait long for me.  i returned to them all puffy and red.  sniffling back snot.  wiping my eyes and my nose with my sweater sleeve.

we buried her with cedar and sage and tobacco.  and a stone with my heart on it.  i placed her in white cloth with blue flowers.  and covered her with dirt.  she is underground now.

i miss her.  i notice her absence especially when i return home.  she is not here wanting out.  or wanting in.  she isn’t sleeping on my bed or curled up on the heater grate.  she doesn’t want cheese.  nor is she here to sit on my friends.  nor purr when petted.  she doesn’t join the girls and i in bed at storytime.  climbing all over us with and for love.  my experience is that she is gone.  i remember her.  but i don’t feel her presence.

i don’t really know what dead is.  other than dead.

sometimes i think i catch a glimpse of her.  a darkness out of the corner of my eye.  i suppose i was almost always aware of her.  i watched for her on the back deck.  i would let her in or out whenever she wanted.  it didn’t bother me.  i loved that she was free to come and go.  the habit of opening doors for her has not died.  and part of me is still waiting for her.  my eyes searching for her movement.  ivy suggested this morning that it might be her spirit i am seeing.  i like that idea.  ezra wanted to know what spirit is.  and the best i had to offer was “the part of us that does not die when we die.”  she simply nodded.  maybe because she knows that i don’t really know.

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george taught me many things.  i am pretty sure she accepted me exactly as i am.  she was fine and content with life.  she was loving and ruthless.  she rubbed her face against my children’s hands.  and killed chipmunks.  it didn’t matter if i ignored her or loved her up.  she was the same.  she just was.

i have never met anyone quite like her.  human or otherwise.  i realize that she was my best friend.  she lived with me for almost 17 years.  she watched me grow.  she offered unwavering existence.  she just was.  her way of being in the universe was exquisite.  i aspire to her chilled-out-ness.  i aspire to a calm quiet acceptance of me.  and the occasional outburst of ruthlessness (but not with chipmunks!).

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