Dear Murphy (3 years)

I have an hour. That is, I have all day but I’m going to limit myself to one hour.

Maisy and Daisy are fighting. Play-fighting that sounds and looks a lot like real fighting. They are a louder, a lot more, than they were a year ago.

Daisy is chunky, she is wide, stout, hefty. She wants to eat all the food, all the food in the world sometimes. She is possessive and jealous of whatever any other cat is eating. She also gives the best eye-blinking cat kisses. She learned by watching Sully how to be brushed, and she loves it. It’s a new thing, to have a cat that searches us out to be brushed. Daisy is unpredictable outside; most of the time she will stay on the deck, happy to hang out near the back door; but then once in a while we’ll see her up a tree, and she is also the the biggest killer. And no one likes that. I try to keep the cats in as much as possible, to reduce the kill-count, to reduce neighbour-trauma.

Maisy is the one…she is just the one. From the beginning she decided, sometimes hysterically, that she needed me around all the time. Earlier in the year that changed; she spent more time outside, more and more, until we were letting her out at sunrise and she would slope back inside at sunset. These 12, 14 hour adventures…where did she go? Further than we’d like. She would be MIA during thunderstorms, we would be waiting up for her to come home.

Now that she is inside all day, and escapes outside for just a few minutes in the evening, she has groomed all the fur off her belly and hind legs. Cue the vet visits, cue the Cat Prozac. This has been six months of trying different things. I’m day 2 into a ‘holistic’ treatment – does this sound desperate? I start each new idea with the belief that it will actually work. I guess we’ll see.

Sully is doing better.  He is Rebecca’s cat, he adores her. He’s less scared, although he still sprays. He’s very sensitive to arguments, to raised voices, he is our sensitive child. He is also a killer outside; his record is catching a bird 7 seconds after we opened the back door. We rescued that bird, only for Maisy to get it, only for me to rescue it again. We have rescued birds and rabbits, and we have also failed to do so.

Together, it is a lot of cat. We went away for 4 nights, and a cat-sitter was hired. She turned out to be fantastic (like Shelagh).

They all have their good points. Daisy with her blinking kisses, Maisy with her proud upstanding tail, full of confidence and happiness, and her acrobatic jumping. Sully with his muh-muh-muhhhh conversations. They are all hungry, playful, no one is hiding under the bed, except for thunder-storms and then I can’t blame them. They all have different hunting and playing styles. They mostly get on well together, it’s better than we probably deserve.

Rebecca ans I take turns considering which is the biggest cat problem we have. Maisy tends to win; her baldness is so visible, it looks so miserable. Because Maisy and I have the strongest connection, I can torture myself by believing she is soaking up my anxiety; that I’m making her sick, and in turn that I made you sick as well. I can think that way and it does nobody any good.

I went for walk this morning with the little wooden heart in my pocket. I walked and thought of you. I though of the very worse things that happened and that doesn’t help either, I suppose. These cats in our house, they’re not you. It’s different. On one hand I think, now I have three cats that are going to die, why would I open myself up for that? But then I remember I made a promise, and so that’s what we’re doing.

I’m struggling to know what to write here. Will I do this next year? It’s not that I don’t feel it. It’s that I don’t know what to say today. How many times should I write how badly I feel done? And yes, this year it’s been better (except for today, because today’s it’s awful). When it’s been 5 years, when it’s been longer than I knew you, what do I do then?

It’s been a hard week because I knew today was coming and I’ve been remembering all the bad things that happened in our last Scottish year. What a shitty fucking y ear.

But that’s not all true, is it. There were times when I sat it various office buildings and thought, we’re not going to the United States because I screwed up, because I was weak and worthless (and because Scotland was conspiring to keep us there, with every trick in the book). But we made it after all. And I had to be strong, and I had to fight, and we got what we wanted.

And we didn’t get to take you with us.

You were cleverer than the cats we have now. You were more popular. And you were content just to hang out with me, outside or inside. We used to think you were difficult, but perhaps really you were easy.

I was talking to someone about happiness the other day. I have conversations like that these days, it’s what language teachers do. And I could pick lots of things to feel happy about, things that other people would connect with or recognize or appreciate. But the happiest feeling for me is when the cats are eating or drinking. The things you wouldn’t do at the end.

I’m sorry I pick this day to be unhappy. Is it insulting? Rebecca said I should pick a different day, I should celebrate instead of concentrating on loss. She’s probably right. I have no idea.

For the record, and because part of me believes you get my messages and prayers, and because I just need to say it, I love our cats, and I think we’re all connected, and a kindness I do for Maisy or Daisy or Sully is like a favour to you, a lesson learned.

You were the best one. I miss you beginning to purr just because I entered the room. I miss the sound of the cat-flap, or you crashing onto the bed at night. I miss your thieving from the fridge, I miss you watching as I washed the car. I miss you sleeping in the garden, flattening our plants, King of the jungle. I miss the way your tail wound round my legs when you bonked me; that was in the last view months before you died; something new.

Maisy is a the top of the cat tree. She licks her bald belly. Rasp-rasp-rasp. Sully is on the couch, asleep. I don’t know where Daisy is, probably crying at Rebecca. All our cats are vocal, they talk and talk and talk.

I promise to take care of these cats. I promise to be strong and do the difficult vet stuff, and I promise to play with them and treat them with love.

And I promise to be better next year.

I miss you and love you,

Hamish

 

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