Dear Murphy (2 years)

Dear Murphy,

I’m going to write. And then I’m going to stop. And I won’t mess with it.

I’ve been waiting a year to write this. And now I’m speechless. Maisy is sitting on the desk, crying for attention, rubbing against everything she sees. It’s like she knows she’s not the cat I’m focusing on right now.

Okay. It’s 2 years since you died. And now we have 3 cats. 3, as it turns out, is so much more than 2.

Maisy and Daisy, sisters we brought them home as kittens in January.

Daisy is a conventional house-cat  happy to chase flies around the house, affectionate, hungry. She has a variety of purrs, from needy to hungry, and the sweetest, sleepiest look on her face when she’s happy. Her grunty purr, her wind-herself-around-your-ankles as you walk downstairs as you head, surely, to the kitchen – that is my favorite of her purrs. She is our hungry cat.

Maisy is hysterical, with an emergency siren miaow, that’s at its most irritating when she wants outside. And she always wants outside. There are feral cats, around here, in a country of abandoned and neglected animals. There are multiple hazards, and Maisy is asking for it, she charges head-first into trouble. Maybe it’s this quality, the certainty that she will end up causing me grief, that makes her my favourite. She is slight, but she is a wannabe killer, of birds, squirrels, of anything we share the garden with. She is ready to fight, and she adores me, and yeah, sucker that I am, she is surely my favourite.

Maisy is named for our Scottish side, our Morningside, and Daisy for the South, our Daisy Duke. They’re both beautiful, I love my girls. Both these kittens are rarely afraid, and they are never afraid of me. This makes me happy. And they wrestle each other, romping and crashing through the house. And they both can yawn and miaow at the same time, which strikes me like a magic trick every time.

Sully, we found him by the swimming pool of our old home, abandoned and hungry. I fed him daily for two months, and then we took him with us to the new house. (It was during this time, when I was calling shelters and trying to find him a good home that wasn’t ours, that I realised how you broke me, broke the cat part of me.)

Sully is a big boy, with a growling miaow, eager to please but still so very nervous. He’s been let down, he’s been left behind. And it’s because of you that I took him in, because I made a promise, some absurd promise to a dead cat that I’d treat cats right, that I’d do the hard stuff.

We took Sully to a shelter but I couldn’t leave him there; ten minutes after letting them take him we were back to say we’d changed our minds. It was a very Disney ending for Sully, but it was you I was thinking of.

Rebecca tells me that my feelings about you, my guilt and shuddering grief that won’t go away, that this is a problem. She’s right about that. I’m still broken over you. I’m supposed to let it go, the shame of letting you down, and I’m supposed to let you go. But I’m afraid to do that. Neither of us have a Heaven to go to, there’s no reunion, and this wasteful, worthless grief, it must be better than saying goodbye. Writing it down,  it’s ridiculous, but I must have a good reason for holding onto these feelings. If it wasn’t doing something for me, I’d just fucking stop it, right?

Maisy doesn’t like it when I cry. She’s provoked, disturbed. I don’t cry often these days, I’ve managed to cut a lot of that out, which is good, which is an improvement on the first year.

It was a hard decision to get the kittens. Maisy and Daisy were Rebecca’s choice, which she was entitled to. I’d wanted adult cats, but there were too many that looked like you, and that would’ve been impossible. We were in the adoption part of PetSmart, where the rescued cats do their daily audition. It was a struggle for me to  keep my shit together. But we brought them home and it’s been a good thing.

Our 3 cats. They are nothing like you. They are not as clever, or stubborn, not as vicious, not (so far) as lethal.  I have grown to love the kittens, no confusion there, they are here to be adored. And I’m fond of Sully,  I want him to lose the fear and anxiety he exudes.

But I fell for you, the moment I saw you.

I’m just so very sad about you. You’d like this house, the sun, the garden. You’d like the kids. You always like hanging out with the kids. And given the choice, I’d make the swap in a heartbeat. Them for you.

But you broke, you died. And I remember that day.

And I find more, not less things to feel guilty about. The food we bought you, prescription stuff, expensive, turns out it’s crap compared to what we’re buying for the cats now. I should have done better research. And the vet? I agonized over that, checked out plenty, not like with you, finding the one closest to home. But of course, with better food and a better vet, you’d still be dead. We could’ve fed you fresh chicken every night and you’d still have gone out hunting.

Maisy and Daisy love to be held, something you never put up with for very long.

We have some photos of you on the wall in a single frame. I see those every day, that’s fine. And there’s a painting of our impossible-family, with you and the cattens together, and I can look at that. But I can’t look at other photos, I can’t look at video. Because if I do, there’s a moment of surprise, of unfamiliarity, because you don’t look like our every day cats. You’re from before, you’re from long gone.

But I think about you every day. And it’s part of my job of fixing myself, of surviving and succeeding in our American life, to pay respect and remember you clearly. And I know you’re so much more than those last few weeks.

This isn’t good writing, it’s not designed. I’m not going back to over it.  It’s just for me and you. I wanted to write something today, just something to tell you that things are different and yet they’re partly the same, that a lot of wonderful cat things have happened this year, and that I’m still ripped up. And that you’re the best one, nothing will ever come close again.

Tomorrow, I’ll look at your old photos, your snips of video. I’ll be clearer about how you looked, how you moved. I’ll feel closer, and that will hurt. But it’ll be a little bit better, too. And this is okay.

And the truth is, I’m better about all of this than I was 12 months ago. I’m still ruined, but I’m better. And next time, I’ll write something that’s less scattered. And in the meantime, I’ll look after our cats, because I promised you I would. And I agree, that’s a mostly crazy promise, but I feel better for sticking to it.

Murphy, I remember the day we found you, I remember the day we lost you, and I remember plenty of what came in-between. I love you, I miss you, and for now and forever, rest in peace.