Friday, June 5, 2009

My Cat Sophie

Every day I get up at 5 AM, put on my bathrobe and head to the kitchen where I make my first cup of good, strong, coffee. Cup in hand, I return to my bed, slide between the covers and sip, doing my best to make my coffee last as long as possible. I love this time of day. It feels decadent to do nothing but ponder the hours ahead. Now that it is spring, my windows are open and I hear the sounds of the season, mostly cardinals, the occasional very bossy crow, and every 15 minutes or so a foghorn warning the fishing boats of the rocks of Vineyard Sound. And these days my cat Sophie joins me.

Sophie came to us shortly after Mike died. In a moment of weakness, I said ‘yes’ to Anneke’s pleas for a kitten, forgetting that she was only seven years old and that the cat duties were certain to fall to me, a new widow who already had a list of responsibilities seemingly beyond her capabilities. (Truthfully, everything was too big to handle back then and I know you know what I mean.)

Sophie turned out to be a cat who loathed being picked up or petted on anyone’s schedule other than her own. She seemed to resist all my attempts to love her and instead sought out only Anneke for refuge. I know it was silly but I took her self-care as a personal rejection and suffered hurt feelings. Didn’t she know I needed comfort? That I was grief stricken? Eventually I acknowledged that Anneke needed her more, (after all Anneke was the one who wanted her in the first place) and when I needed pet-attention I went to our dog Deboney. I decided that maybe I didn't like Sophie all that much anyway.

Deboney died this past winter. She was a good and loving dog. I miss her.

But just as all of my relationships changed when Mike died, (friends, priest, in-laws, neighbors, sister, brothers, father, step-daughter, daughter…) my relationship with Sophie changed after Debs died. It is always this way, a complete rearrangement of relationships after loss.

Sophie has now decided, only since Debs died, that I may pet her. Or, more truthfully, she has decided that I must pet her. Her petting requirements coincide with my morning coffee. As I ascend the stairs to snuggle back into bed each morning, Sophie runs ahead of me in anticipation. She does not just lie down next to me making herself available for petting. Oh no, no. Sophie insists on my full attention, plopping herself onto my belly. Yesterday she was so pushy that she bumped my coffee spilling it on the sheets and me. I had to wash a full load of laundry before 6 AM just because of her Highness.

Mike did not like cats, and that is putting it mildly. I don’t know why he felt this way, (maybe a traumatic encounter at an early age!) but he did not hide his antipathy one little bit. Young Anneke intuitively knew better than to even suggest a feline friend.

So it is rather ironic that our cat Sophie now assumes the spot Mike had, snuggling up to me at 5 AM. Maybe she knows something that I don’t know. Maybe Sophie knows that I need to give and receive lots of love. These days I like Sophie a lot, spilled coffee and all.

In Gratitude,
Mie Elmhirst, Reluctant Cat Lover. Widows Breathe Coaching

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