Dear Murphy (5 years)

You are distracting me today, the day before Murphy Day. I have a lot of work to do, but you keep knocking on the door.

I will write this now, then, and take my Murphy walk tomorrow.

I will update, even though I believe you know all of this already.

Sully is our big boy, he is our beast in your absence. Truly, he is nothing like you, but we walk together and sometimes he makes biscuits in the grass, he’s so content. He’s had trouble this year, with too many visitors and a 4th cat, and he’s sprayed most walls of our house. But I love him. He is old, likely he’ll be the first to die, and that will be hard for Rebecca and for me. It took me 3 years to think of him as really part of our family. With you, it was instant. Because you were magic.

Daisy is doing so well. We’re feeding the cats a raw diet (yes, you would’ve loved that stuff) and her gums, her skin, her weight, it’s all better. She is still the miaowiest, most stubborn of cats. Of course, you were smarter, you were sneakier. She doesn’t know how to steal like you. She doesn’t have your magic either, but she loves us and we love her back, so very much.

And Maisy. Her fur is better. She still over-grooms but it’s not as bad. She has a fluffy belly. Recently, when the 4th cat and guests arrived, she reacted by stopping eating, 3 weeks of getting progressively skinnier. Rebecca tried her on some kitten food and that did the trick, she has her appetite back, she is playing again. And I love her, I love this one the most. She believed me, the things I told her as a kitten, and we have a strong bond. I will play with her more, I promise.

And there is Kitten. Another of Rebecca’s rescue’s, she has been with us for 2 months. Too long, but she has made great progress, for a kitten hiding under the bed, a kitten who wouldn’t groom, a stinky scared kitten, to one that plays all day and is getting, as Rebecca observed this morning, a little tummy. We need to re-home her,  and if we’re successful, this will be hard for Rebecca. I’m reminded of Jellybean. We have tried to help a lot of cats, I hope this one has a happy ending.

We’ve had a hard day. I know, I said that last year. 2015, it started so badly, and I will say only that we are in better shape now, we are cautiously optimistic, after some bad and frightening times. And I have prayed and I have cried and I have tried to lead, and not always succeeded.

Murph, it’s been 10 years since we brought you home and 5 years since you died.

I take some time to think about that. I’m at the library today, so I can’t just cry at my desk. It’s funny, the pain of holding back tears, it’s not like anything else.

I will take my walk tomorrow, to the train tracks, and I will hold your memory in my heart and I will tell you that I love you and that I miss you.

There, I shed a tear anyway.

The weather forecast is for rain and grey. I’ll get a little Broxburn weather, and I’m glad about that.

Murphy, I’ve had some bad nights this year thinking about you, feeling my useless guilt about the mistakes I made, when I let you down. And I know, I shouldn’t feel just grief and guilt for you, and it’s not like that, but sadness is allowed. I’m not going to try and rationalise the way I feel.

I look forward to this day, because I want to speak to you. I want you back, just like I sometimes I want our old life back, and our American life (I’m American now, which was an expensive ordeal, and let me tell you, compared to love, so fucking what about being American?) is a risk, and risks don’t always work out.

I’ll tell you that we’re not eating meat anymore, we’re not eating cows or chickens or pigs or sheep. Because we’re both sick of hurting animals. Because we’re all in this together.

But I digress, ha. I just spent 10 minutes looking at photos and thinking about posting something to Facebook. But no thanks.  I’m sick of the stupid things people say, I put up with it in business but I…will follow my own path on this one.

What does it say that I can’t think about you like this without crying? That I’m broken, that you broke me, that I have still to go through some recovery process.

Today, I’m not interested in that. I think about the gardening I’ve done this year, the wood staining, the car-washing (not so much car washing, I have to get use it or lose it) and for all of that, you would’ve hung out with me, watching, careful not to get splashed, but watching. And that’s what Maisy and Daisy are desperate to do, and they cry if I don’t let them.  So then we let them and then I get to spend all that time getting them back inside again. Hey, they are harness-walking cats, most of the time. Rebecca yearns for the day when we live in some fantasy house and yard where we can let the cattens run free. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to that. But I do take them outside, and we walk, and they hunt birds and squirrels and I’m a terrible friend of cats when I clap my hands to warn birds away and keep my hand on the leash to protect wildlife and…yes, I know, there’s no way we ever would have done that with  you.

I miss you a lot.  And I promise to take care of the cattens, and sully, and I wish we could have had more time with you but we weren’t that lucky.

I saw a cat on my walk yesterday, by the rental homes opposite the cinema. Beautiful, skinny thing. Her tail went up and she thought about coming to see me, and then she watched me from the bushes instead, and I told her good luck.

I speak to cats. I speak to all cats. And really I’m speaking to you, I’m loving you, every time I clean the water bowls or scoop the litter (those boxes you never used) or, fuck, I just speak to cats and I continue to speak to you.

I’m sorry for the things I did wrong, especially near the end. I won’t list them yet again. And I wish for a time when I can see you again.

What a mess these messages are. Good thing you know all of this already.

Last thing. Maybe the most important. I had a perfect dream about you this year, after a couple of bad ones.  In this dream, I held you, you were happy and healthy, and it was a love dream. Just love. And it gave me faith, that you’re in the next place, in peace.

It’s been five years. You were the cleverest, most stubborn, most wild of cats, and you slept on our bed like a rock, and you killed a lot of birds and mice and those fucking voles, and you fought cats and dogs and then you were a gentleman with our foster cats, and you were a friend of the children in our street,  you were famous, and you came running to me when I came home from work, all the way down the street, and you sometimes, just sometimes, were content to sleep on my lap, and I could talk to  you and sing to you and you would purr like a tiger, and outside you would wrap your tail around my legs and you would claim me and show that we were friends.

I miss the sound of the flap, I miss the dirt you brought with you from outside. I miss seeing you squashing the plants outside as you slept. And I miss your power bonks, your scratches, your miaows,  your blinks.

Thank you for being my friend, thank you for helping me and especially, more than anything, thank you for helping Rebecca. She saw an old Facebook post from this time, 3 years ago, where I said Heaven’s wallpaper must be in tatters by now. Yeah, keep on scratching.

I love and miss you. I’ll speak to you tomorrow, out loud, in the rain, and the day will belong to you.

Hamish

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