Tuesday, December 16th, 2003 • No Comments on When I Least Expect It
Last week was one of those weeks. You know, one of those weeks. Craziness, a million things to do, staying up until 3 a.m. night after night, getting up before 10 a.m. (ack!). That sort of week. Last night I played hostess for a party (aka “Navy function”) which involved cooking, baking, table setting, flower arranging and, because I run a small zoo out of my house, corralling the pets upstairs. Henry the WonderDog (aka “No Knees”) went into the office, the cats went into my bedroom, Lola the crazy bird went into her cage. The fish, thankfully, do not harass guests as a rule, so they got to stay downstairs.
I left Jay in charge of gathering the pets and didn’t get a chance to check on the cats until I went to get dressed.
Begin Small Digression
When the invitation says 6:30, it MEANS 6:30, not 5:53. If you leave your house two hours early so you won’t get lost, PLEASE don’t come ringing my doorbell forty freakin’ minutes early. Go buy yourself a Slurpee or check out the neighbor’s giant inflatable snowman from Hell, but DO NOT show up at my house and expect me to greet you with a smile when I’ve been forced to get ready at the speed of light so as not to make YOU feel uncomfortable as you sit on my couch sipping your beer and looking at my half-finished party preparations.
End Small Digression
So, I go into my bedroom and the cats are doing their pitiful “we are so abused to be confined like this” meows and I’m taking a head count. One: Wilbur, the purr monster Siamese-looking old man cat; two: Annabelle, the gracefully aging princess calico with dainty paws and hunter instincts; three: Savannah, the baby brute tortoiseshell who terrorizes the other cats and is in love with the dog. They all stare expectantly at me from the bed and floor as I scan the room again and do another head count. One, two, three. Where’s four? Where’s Orville?
Then I remember. Orville died in July.
It’s funny how that happens, how I sometimes forget he’s not here any more, even after all these months. He was Wilbur’s brother and my baby cat, a cuddly tabby who would let you hold him and pet him for hours. Thirteen years old, blind and suffering from a thyroid condition that left him painfully thin, he’d find his way through the house to where ever I was, meowing loudly so that I’d respond and he could locate me. He died in my arms which I hope made it easier for him to go.
Having so many pets, you’d think I wouldn’t miss Orville so much five months after he died. The little guy is still in my heart and there are times when I feel his presence and I can almost convince myself he’s still here, sleeping on my pillow and begging for cheese. Which is why at the end of a hectic week, in the midst of doing the hostess thing, I found myself standing in my bedroom and crying because three wasn’t the right number of cats.