Memories of My Friend

Furry body curled up under the flannel sheet, resting against my skin, a small, purring furnace. Kaleidoscope of colors; oranges and tans and browns and blacks, a tapestry of chaos reminiscent of a well-made, beautifully browned meatloaf. Paws tucked under a substantial form.

She made stretching an Olympic event, shot for the gold – legs stressed to maximum reach, belly exposed, back arched, accompanied by a gaping yawn. The dismount was obligatory eye blinking, a sign of satisfaction. Nailed it.

Indifference, the impression I got. Sitting sphinxlike, a half-lidded gaze accompanied by the appearance of detachment, as if she could take me or leave me. A behavior betrayed only by her unspoken and obvious desire to always be in my personal space. Taking my seat if temporarily vacated. Laying across open textbooks. Keeping my overcoat warm with her body. Curling up against my thigh and gazing up, as if I were in her way.

Droplets of water falling from a dark sky brought concern and distress. Likewise, dry, windy Santa Anas brought stress of a different kind: the electric crackle on every bit of fur.

Sitting patiently on the cool, hardwood floor before the portal to Outside, gazing through the mesh screen, surveying her realm from her post, taking note of sudden movements in the beyond. A glance over her shoulder, a brief meow, her request for release. Later, a scratch could be heard on the wooden frame of the screen door, and a meowing bark if one wasn’t quick enough.

Feline jungle predator, she crept through the tall, overgrown grasses and various plants, day or night, stalked prey, investigated new scents and disturbances. Hisses and growls were reserved for those of her kind who dared venture into her territory. And upon her return, shared all she encountered during her travels through her vast kingdom, in a constant chatter of murmurs and chirps and meows. Never ventured past the boundaries; curious, but never too curious.

A loving scratch under the chin was encouraged – eyes closed, throat vibrating, acknowledging contentment. I’ll miss that. Never again will I feel her soft, warm breath on the palm of my hand.

No more unrequested predawn wake-up calls, a paw tapping my forehead, nose or ear. Those wide open yellow-green orbs, the size of saucers, inches from my half-opened, sleepy blue ones, a startling sight at any hour, are closed for eternity.

Over are the not so subtle requests for caresses, and the occasional, and obvious, full body flop on the footpath, as graceful as that first lump of clay thrown on a potter’s wheel.

Gone are the late night sounds of water lapped, or the crunch of hard, dry morsels of nourishment. I’ve lost my food critic, always under foot while meals were prepared, begging inspection and a verbal request for a taste test. It will be easier to enjoy a well cooked meal without my friend staring intently at fish or fowl, leaning in for a sniff, a paw on my arm to remind me of her presence, expectant sounds emitting from her throat. Or will it?

Memories linger in every corner of our home, in every shadow. My heart aches for her companionship, her personality, her friendship. The diseases of old age took her from me, suddenly and too soon. My heart will have to get along without her now.

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