September 25, 2006


So, I’ve been reading your e-mails… I realized I was reading too fast to get anything out of them, so I tucked all but the first ten or so into a folder called BLOG FODDER, and I shall pull them out, one by one by one, on days when I need them. It’s like a wrapped box you have given me, but I’m not opening it until my actual birthday, and here we understand that “my birthday” means “whatever crappy day I need a present.”

MEANWHILE, the story about Walley was a response to one of those e-mails. The three things below are also responses.

1) Zona Rosa rocks. 1) The whole group really seems to get that it’s the writing that matters.

2) There is only so sad I can BE, bunny, before I get bored with it. There are hidden joys in a short attention span...When I approach the absolute zero of sad, I look around until I can see one good thing. It’s there, a lot of its are there. Sometimes they go skittering under the sofa to hide, but they are there, and they are shiny, and shiny things distract me. AND OH UNCLE VANYA, I have faith. I do believe. We SHALL see the whole sky all diamonds, see if we don’t.

3) Lydia---who also wrote this in comments--- is right. I’d completely forgotten that WalleyCat died in the yard. He was an indoor cat, but as he entered double digits (both in age and weight) he became extra wily. He could go transparent and goozle unseen out a door crack half his width. We live on a cul de sac in a small neighborhood, and once outside, Walley never left the yard. We’d drag him back in, and he would stand at the door and MEH! MEH! at us SO vehemently that he sounded like a disgruntled phone company employee. THAT NOISE earned him the middle name “Mavis,” and eventually, when our brains felt so pierced by his high pitched spit of sound that we felt we could wear hoop earrings in our occipital lobes, Scott installed a cat door.

The night, after I told him not to die, he went all the way outside and pushed the eject button in a patch of verdant grass in the middle of our backyard. I have to tell you, from the safe distance of deck, he looked spectacular, the bright white and toffee of him glowing in all that green. Drama Queen, my Walley.

He was gorgeous, but he was also dead. I got close enough to see the stiffness of him, the absolute and final absence of Walley-ness, and then I retreated to the deck. I’m not sentimental about dead things. Once the magical part of being alive is over, once there is no there there, the left behind pieces are only sad to me. The piece I will miss is already gone, and I have never found comfort or beauty in an open casket.

I was stymied by what to do with WalleyCat. I was hugely, vastly pregnant…I didn’t want to go out there and touch him, and yet I had loved him, so I also didn’t want to go out there and pick him up like he was refuse, with a shovel. I was scared ants would be on him and I would forever then have to hate all ants. I didn’t want his eyes to be open.

There’s a strange disconnect in the wasteland between beloved cat and dead cat. I didn’t want to put a plastic bag over him, anchor it with dirty bricks, and yet I didn’t want to use the nice throw off the sofa either. I knew that even if I soaked the thing in BLEACH I would never be able to put it back in my den.

And I was crying and distraught. Words like “Towel” and “Old sheet” did not come to me. I called Lydia, and I don’t know why those words didn’t come to her either, or perhaps I had hysterical weeping reasons for dismissing them. OH! Wait. Maybe the old sheet was WHITE and the towels were PALEST bright petal pink? And would attract my kid? THAT WAS IT! I wanted to cover him with something that was more RESPECTFUL than a hefty bag, but wouldn’t contrast so much with the lawn that it drew Sam to it.

I eventually chose an ENORMOUS pair of dark maternity leggings, and I went creeping up on Walley’s remains much like Walley used to ineffectually stalk birds. I was all bulky rounded belly and feigned disinterest, coming up sideways so I saw him only in my peripheral vision. I unfurled my pants over what was once my cat, and fled back to the house.

In later years, the outdoor setting increased his legend…had he died in the middle of the den, Scott would have seen him before he left for work. But that would have been convenient and easier on us, and thus completely out of character.

Posted by joshilyn at September 25, 2006 7:08 AM

And you say you don't remember how to tell a story. Riiiiiiight.

Posted by: Amy-Go at September 25, 2006 10:31 AM

Yeah, what Amy - Go said.

Posted by: Cele at September 25, 2006 12:00 PM

Yeah, I hate to be a band-wagon-jumper-onner (and really hate to be the one who may have just coined that ugly phrase!) but I must "ditto" both Amy-Go and Cele said. Your stories are making a fibber of you.

Posted by: beejsnyder at September 25, 2006 1:49 PM

And she's BACK! Yeah! We all knew your story-telling muscles just needed a short rest before they rev right back up again!

Posted by: Fran at September 25, 2006 2:06 PM

OH yeah, no storytelling here. Nope. None at all.

Me? I'd be all, like, my cat died. I was sad.


Posted by: Serenity Now! at September 25, 2006 3:33 PM

I can relate to the cat being dead and being pregnant all at the same time. My story is worse, however, because MY cat was already buried and some dog decided to UNEARTH her!! Can we just say EWWW? That is a memory that huants me to this day....

Posted by: Sheri at September 25, 2006 5:31 PM

Well, to introduce a note of woo-woo to the festivities...and I thought this when I read the previous post but was too lazy (chicken?) to say it. But, Walley may have just been waiting for you not to need him so much. You had Maisy coming, soon, and he knew you'd be okay, so he could let go, knowing you'd have someone new to love.

For years I had birds, so had to give up having cats. I moved into this little house with a huge yard that was like the forest primeival (sp?). All the (largely feral) neighborhood cats hung out in my yard, traversed my yard, etc. But, if I so much as opened the door to the deck, the scattered like fur-covered rockets. All of them. Then my last little bird got sick. She was dying. She was at her last gasp when, one day, one of the cats marched through my back door and nattered at me, forcefully, then sat her little butt down. Like, "So there."

My bird died the next day. And the cat repeated this performance every day until I broke down and admitted that she was my new pet. Didn't take long either, 'cause I'm a cat person. But I firmly believe she knew that I was going to have a vacancy in my heart that needed to be filled by a critter, and she was applying for the position. So, glad she did, too.

Posted by: ZaZa at September 26, 2006 1:50 AM

WalleyCat? Hmmm...the pov character in my novel is named Wally. He's a good guy, though.

Posted by: Jim Simpson at September 28, 2006 12:48 AM