Dear Murphy (7 years)

I think to myself, I don’t feel this grief anymore. I don’t dwell on it, I’m not distracted.

And then at the beginning of August, when I’m swept up with anxiety over work and money and all that crap, I have a thundering nightmare. A magic trick, a powder, that brings you back. Rebecca and I are at the vet – Scottish or American? I’m not sure – and I see you from behind, lying down, showing off your haunches.

I don’t get to touch you, to say hello. The next moment, I’m outside with Rebecca, talking about options, and I don’t know what those options are. You can’t stay, we can’t keep you, and you’re ashes again and I’m weeping.

And that next day, awake for what it’s worth, a beautiful summer’s day, I’m a wreck all over again.

I didn’t get to see your face. I know that dream was made up of fragments of then, of Rebecca commenting on Daisy’s weight, how she looks from behind, on TV shows and life that was giving me nightly heartburn. But it always comes back to you as well.

A week before Bob went home, after staying with us in the basement for 11 weeks. I had been feeling guilty about not spending enough time with him, and then there was Sully, at his yowliest, pissiest best, making me furious, cursing him, and then feeling bad about that too.

Ah, you boy cats. You leave me in pieces, and yet what would I do without you?

7 years. It’s nothing, but that’s just poetry. We carry on and there are things I’ve forgotten – maybe I’ll get them back when I’m old, if I make it that far.

I would say 7 years since you died, and that’s true, but you made the call days before we did. The more I know about cats, the more I learn, the more I wish I’d done things differently with you. Different food, different cat spaces. And this for the cat who had his own back garden, a cat-flap, plenty of warm beds. But I got plenty wrong, didn’t I.

My grief is tied up with so many things. I will take my walk in  a few minutes and tell you what I need to tell you. It’s a drive to get there because we moved house, and I’ll take the recycling to the place on the way. Is that okay? Am I allowed to multi-task? I decided that I am.

Rebecca is in Gatlinburg, 4 hours away. I’m back here because of work, but it’s right that I’m back for you as well.

I love our house, by the way, and I think you’d like it as well. But Broxburn was our home, I think it was just right for you.

Let me tell you about the family.

Maisy and I are so close but I don’t always know what she needs. And it’s Rebecca who sees that she wants to play instead of eat. I don’t play with her enough, does that sound familiar? But I think she’s healthy, far less over-grooming, and there’s lots of space in this new house. I love that she loves me, but I wish she and Rebecca would be better friends.

Daisy is so affectionate and so territorial. She is the bravest with the neighbor’s dogs (who don’t jump the fence but bark from time to time). And she is too heavy. That sweet girl, I’m going to buy her special food and I hope it works. Rebecca told me last night she bought new toys for Daisy, determined that our greyest catten run off the fat. But yes, Daisy weighs too much and it will become serious if we don’t help her.

Sully keeps on going, he is our boy who is alive in this house. He’s not like you, and yet he’s in your spot. You were both more wild and more of a gentleman. He is more often affectionate, and he is so anxious at times. I think health-wise he has had a good year, and Kitten is a part of that.

Kitten has grown without us realising, but she’s still the smallest. It took us several bad medical times for us to work out a hairball regimen – food, grooming. If we neglect this, she doesn’t eat for 2/3 days and is in bad shape. But when she’s healthy, she eats so well! And months after moving in, we got a rug for the living room and she and Sully started playing again. Oldest and youngest, such good friends.

And Bob returned to be our summer basement cat. He needs so much love, and so much play, that funny, smart cat. He’s back with his family now, and I don’t think of him the way I think of you but I call out to him when I pass his apartment building in my car. Bob-bob-bob-bob-bob. A little bit crazy, but I hope you’ll understand.

Ah, all this chat. I think it’s important but it’s not about you. All cats are connected. What can I say about you that I haven’t already said. Murphy, I miss you. You got cheated, and it’s easy for me think that when we decided to leave Scotland, you decided, fuck it, you’d had enough.

You were the best thing, the best soul, the best connection I had. I don’t see it happening again for me, and maybe that’s what stops it happening. I’m afraid of the cats alive in this house dying, I imagine it and I really don’t know how I’ll get through it. And then I imagine dying before them, fuck, Rebecca and I both dying, and then what, for them? My mother promised this year that she’d take care of them if that happened, can you believe that? My 73 year old mother, in another continent. But she knows how we can feel about each other, cats and us.

Sully is right here with me, the sentinel. Kitten is here now as well, and she never comes into my classroom. They are both here at my feet, guarding me.

Our big news – the catio, a fenced in cat-space, is almost finished. If I buy the roofing today, my brother in law can finish it. Aside from a hole in the wall, they can use it. I think they will love it. It’s a big deal, giving them the chance to enjoy the outside any time of day they want. And there’s our longer-term plan, to fence in the garden properly and give them space to roam.

But to finish the catio on this anniversary, it seems fitting. Not that a catio would have worked for you. I mean, you would have used it sometimes, but you were a different kind of cat. Sully would spend most of the day lounging outside if we let him, and Maisy would be gone, who knows where, and you can decide if it’s wrong for me to keep them inside, save for a few minutes each day before dinner. But it means they’re safe, and I try to make them happy. So much of this house is for the cats.

So that’s my time. I will take my walk, I’ll talk to you, tell you your story. And I’ll tell you the good things because there were so many. We’ll have our moment, outside of course, it has to be outside, in the wild, and I believe in your spirit, and tell the cats you’re looking down on them.

And I felt you in that dream, I saw you, and I grieved for you all over again. And if that was your way of saying hello, I’ll take it. And I think there’s a chance that all this writing is bullshit and that I just miss you, my sweet boy, but I’ll keep writing.

I love you and I miss you, and I keep you in my prayers.

Eat and drink what you want, sleep where you want, play and chase and hunt and be with your family and everyone who loves you. All cats are connected, Murphy, and us too.

 

Hamish

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Dear Murphy (6 years)

Dear Murphy (6 years)

 

Hello, my friend. It’s that time again. I give myself an hour to  talk to you and then I take my walk.

I look forward to it. But it’s just once a year, to write things down. To say hello again, properly, and to really feel it.

Daisy is on the perch, sleeping. The window’s open, it’s been a perfect day, temperature-wise. And Sully is on the carpet, looking up at me. The others are downstairs. All will be peaceful, for an hour or two. And then they will begin to let me know that it’s time to go outside. They all send their best regards.

My remembered grief took me by surprise today. I thought it wasn’t coming, that this would feel routine, redundant. Because what can I say, right? But there’s still poison inside of me, this toxic mud that I have to release, and I would gladly cut myself open, if that kind of thing actually worked.

I thought I would be bored, writing this. But instead it feels like a little act of bravery, of discomfort, I’m not picking at a scab, I’m tearing the scar wide open. If I want to. And I think I should.

It’s a fucking perfect day of weather. The windows have been open all day. You would have had a great day today.  The summer is too hot for cats but the fall is wonderful. My Scottish boy, you would’ve had a good time, and I hope, just like for Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, that you always have the best weather, that you’re spending your days lying on as many flower beds as you like.

I thought I would tell you about the cats, the ones alive in this house. I thought that was all I had to do. But instead I have to do my crying and tell you again, I’m sorry I wasn’t better at looking after you. I’m sorry. And you know I loved  you, and I think you were content for much of the time, in that wild, monsterish way of yours. My cleverest boy, my sweetest tiger.

Maisy jumps up, meowing, walks over my wrists, insistent. Such a purr. She’s not psychic but she can read the room, like all cats. Because you’re all connected, like I tell her, like I tell all of them.

Okay, I’ll tell you that Maisy and Daisy will turn five next month. Five years, as long as we had you. And it’s not the same. I still think of them as babies, which isn’t accurate, although they do treat Rebecca and I differently.

Daisy’s weight has gone up and down. She caught her share of grasshoppers and cicadas this year. She has grossed us out and she has loved us. She is the greedy one, the jealous one, the pretty one.

Maisy has decided that she doesn’t know Rebecca, courtesy of  Rebecc’a trip to California. Suddenly I’m the only one who can feed her. Maisy is our neurotic, the one who will go furthest when we walk them, leading the pack, and she is my biggest fan.

Sully is our old man, sleeping through the night on our bed, a hot rock. He pees everywhere, he is frequently anxious.

Kitten will always be Kitten, it seems, she has if anything become more playful, the cat that won’t slow down. She and I have become better friends but she reserves her trust and love for Rebecca.

And then we had 5, for three months, thanks to Bob, another of our swimming pool rescues. Bob is smart, gorgeous, and spent most of that time in Rebecca’s office because if we let him out, he would go straight for the other cats. Never destined to be part of our family   (although what a boy, what a sweet, playful powerhouse of a cat) he was adopted by someone who seems like a good match.

There, that’s better. Talk about the living. Can I remind us of the good times? Seeing the neighbors across the street let you out of their house. Coming home to see you playing with kids in the street. You weren’t afraid of anyone. Am I grateful that at least you weren’t hit by a car, or hurt by the local teenage scumbags. You made it, only let down in the end by your kidneys and your taste for local wildlife.

I am still heartbroken by that final night outside, me begging you to come back inside, zero degrees, and you were choosing  to die out there. And I wouldn’t have it, so eventually you came out, let me carry you back inside. And then I let them run tests and take blood for 2 days, for too long but we didn’t know any better, and I made the call and the next day, a bright sunny morning you didn’t get to see, we put you to sleep.

And none of that was good, was it, except you lifted up your tail when they brought you into the room, walked me on your bloody paws and purred.  And…

Hey, we’re still not eating meat. We won’t go back to that, as long as it’s about taste, about making a choice.

Well at least I know, this isn’t routine. I miss you. And I so wish I’d been better.  But I’m thankful. You were the one I wanted. And I got you. I got you for five years which on one hand was never going to be enough, but still more than I ever deserved.

My sneaky boy. My thief, my attacker, my fighter. My best friend, you stayed, you didn’t run away. We did our best, Rebecca and I, to return that loyalty. I know we were riddled with faults, but we loved you, and we miss you.

And Rebecca’s doing pretty well. And we are ambitious, for ourselves and others. And we are very strong, this year, I think, together. Which takes work, which takes special attention. There is love in our house, and we love our cats, and we’re better at a lot of cat stuff now. And still, they try to teach us.

And that’s my hour. I’ll take my walk, and I’ll say a little prayer at the train tracks, and I’ll hold that little wooden keepsake, and I’ll say hi and goodbye to you.

And I’ll look for you, inside of me, I’ll reach out and tell you I love you. And since this is my…my letter of update and apology and grief, I will find something good to tell you, a good memory.

Rest in peace, climb those trees, eat whatever you want, and I will imagine seeing you again one day.

 

Hamish

 

 

 

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

Dear Murphy (4 years)

So the deal is that I write this and then go for a walk, do my reflective thing. And I find myself thinking, maybe I won’t have time for the walk, as if the rest of my day is so important, too important to walk and think about you.

Maisy is on the perch, looking out the window. I love her the most, it’s true. We are too attached, and she is anxious, neurotic, she still over-grooms, but her stomach is fuzzy, she has moved on to her legs instead. I take her out on the harness, and either it goes OK or it goes badly. We’re still trying to work this out. And 2 nights ago, for the first time since she was a kitten, she slept on my lap. That was the prize. As the nights get cooler, she’s remembered the warmth of our bed, so several nights a week there are 3 of us under the duvet. She is a good cat. She’s off the medication, she’s eating the wet food (as well as her dry food crack). I don’t have to worry about her at night, because she’s inside. I’m scared of losing her. I’m scared of finding her cut to pieces.

I’m not ready to write about you yet. My eyes blur when that happens. The garage door is opening, Rebecca on her way out. It has been a bad year for loss. I only use ‘bad’, even though I think really it was terrible, because I know it can, and it will, be worse one day.

Rebecca’s grandmother died at the beginning of the year, and that was sudden for us, because we weren’t there. Rebecca was in her father’s hospital room when she got the news. Can you imagine? No, probably not something cats think about.

Rebecca’s father died in May. It was not sudden. His death, his dying, took over our lives. That’s too much to talk about here, but you know how she was when she got sick back home. You would’ve helped here, too. You would’ve made things better. That’s what I think.

Daisy is chunky. She is beautiful. She loves us in a cat way. She has also slept on my lap once or twice recently. They have discovered this as a possibility. Funny how long it takes. It was 2 years before you started that. Why did you waste so much time? She likes to play, and she still fights magnificently with her sister. They are so good together, and so I can torment myself with thoughts of when one of them dies. Anyway, we move the cat tree downstairs into the bedroom, your photo is still beside it, and she climbs on there when we go to bed, hanging out with us. She is the one cat that doesn’t like sleeping on the bed at night, never does it.

Sully has taken to the harness really well. He loves being outside, and we’re pals outside. Inside he’s still Rebecca’s boy. Now he climbs onto her chest and purrs into her face. He adores her, demands love from her. And he still sprays around the house. The cattens sometimes play with him, they are getting to be friends, perhaps, the 3 of them. But he’s so much bigger. He is a good cat, and he’s off the medication. Drug-free. This morning, Rebecca discovered what might be an abscess in his mouth. Whatever it is, it’ll be expensive, right?

And there is a fourth cat. He/she/it is temporary, a kitten Rebecca found on Saturday. She couldn’t abandon him. You would’ve agreed. You were always so accepting of other cats inside (not outside). You put up with them, I don’t know why, but I’m glad. Maybe because you were always the one who got to stay. You were forever.

This ginger kitten, Rebecca will find a permanent home for him. It’s not like Sully, this is a fostering situation. He’s in Rebecca’s office and he is affectionate and playful. I’d forgotten how small kittens are. Daisy seems the most upset by this new arrival. Well, we want him to have a good home, but it’s not here. We’ll help him get taken care of, you know that.

10 days ago, close enough that I considered it a sign for today,  a cat climbed up a wire screen  and looked in my classroom window. A tiny kitten. I thought it was a bird at first. I went outside and thought it was trapped in a grate in the sidewalk. I called Rebecca, who was home with a friend – I asked her to come help, I couldn’t just leave it there, and guess what? She said yes, of course, she’d come right away.  And I’m grateful for that, because I was feeling ready to break down right there and then.

And then I blow it, leaning close to take a photo through the grate, and I scare the kitten, who squeezes through a gap and runs down the street. So fast, and I go after her, and she freezes for a moment, seeing a man on the other end of the street, looking back at me and I actually think I’m going to get this kitten back, that she’ll know instinctively I’m a good guy. But she doesn’t know any of that. She squeezes under a construction fence and is gone.

Does she know where’s she’s going? I don’t know. I check the grate and street two more times in the afternoon, calling for her. No sign. So either she miraculously had a family of people or cats to go to or she’s dead, right? And I cried about that, and I prayed about it too. And I felt like an idiot for praying, even though my faith was solid with you.

So good luck to that kitten. And good luck to the kitten (older but still just 4/5 months old, we think) in the office. Good luck to cats. God bless cats, right?

Maisy is still here with me. Looking out the window. Ears pricking at the squeak of my chair.

So we come to you. It’s been an easier year. A better one, in terms of feeling sad about what happened, about how you suffered. Just a couple of lost nights, I think, unable to sleep. And I’m allowed to cry today.

I’ll tell you what I think about the most, it’s when you were outside and it was freezing,  you were huddled in the bush and I was trying to get you back inside. tempting you with all kinds of food that you couldn’t eat. And you finally came to me and I still think you were doing me a final favour. And I know if I hadn’t brought you back inside that night, you would’ve stayed outside to die, because you wanted it to be over, and instead we tortured you for 3 days at the hospital.

Maisy’s watching. She doesn’t like it when I’m. I can feel it in my hands.

When is it enough? Have I not let go of you? I think maybe that’s all bullshit, that I will always grieve for you. And I can love these cats alive in our house at the same time.

I looked on the cat rescue website recently where we found you, where I saw that terrible, fantastic photo of you 9 years ago. Your memorial message is still there but all the photos are gone, broken files. I was glad to read the message. They’re still active, of course, rescue places rarely shut down due to lack of demand.

I still miss you. I will always miss you. And I’ve thought about how content you were, often how safe you felt outside, snoozing in the garden. There’s a lot I’m sorry about, that I wished I’d known better, smurf, that I’d do differently. But I loved you so much and I…I think I was a good friend to you. And so was Rebecca.

It’s been a hard year. Maybe this will always be a hard month, because this is when we found you and lost you.

And this blog is just for you. I have nothing to say except how I feel about today. I will miss you at Halloween, and Thanksgiving. I will miss you in the snow and in the spring. I miss you when I wash the car or work outside.

I’m out of time, you know the rule. I’ll go for our walk, now. I love you and miss you. I’ll walk and remember you well in my heart, supreme bonker, killer, thief, monster, sweet boy.

 

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

 

This one’s for all you ladies out there (International Women’s Day)

International Women's Day logo

Between 2005 and 2007, International Women’s Day was part of my job description. My working year revolved around this day. Sometimes the projects were worthy, sometimes they were…less so.

It’s not something I get paid to care about anymore. And I doubt anyone I run into today will ask me what I’m doing for IWD2012. But yeah, I do still care, just a little wee bit.

To mark the occasion, and because this time I get to choose the worthy, here are 3 women who have been taking up space in my head recently for all the right reasons:

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