My dear friend Melissa, over at Poet With A Day Job , had to say goodbye to her much loved cat, Kitty, last week. It is always so hard to say goodbye to a long term companion and friend, so I wanted to do something to make her feel better.
This isn’t a story directly about Kitty but it is a story about a cat who meant something to someone.
[Image by Dragarta at Deviant Art]
Every night when Lauren came home from work Mrs. Jessop’s cat was sitting in the window. She was a constant in Lauren’s inconstant life.
Mrs. Jessop owned the boarding house in George Street. The heritage listed one that looked over the harbour. Lauren had lived there for five years now. A temporary stay that had turned into a permanent one.
Lauren and Mrs. Jessop had the two best rooms in the house. On the third floor with windows so wide that at night the moon loomed, ponderous and silver. Mrs. Jessop wrote poetry by moonlight. Lauren painted silver orbs on shadowed glass. And the cat sat, watching.
Mrs. Jessop had named her Luna. She was a black cat with silver highlights who loved the moon. She watched it in all its forms, cleaning her silken whiskers.
One day Mrs. Jessop fell ill. She was taken to hospital. ‘Look after Luna,’ she cried.
Lawyers came a week later to tell Lauren Mrs. Jessop had died, that she had left Lauren the boarding house. Lauren wept. Inconsolable. Mrs. Jessop had been more of a mother to her than her own mother.
‘You are to look after the cat,’ said the lawyer with the strong after shave. ‘You are to let her keep watching the moon.’
Lauren wasn’t sure about cats. She had always found them to be haughty and huffy. To suddenly have one in her care was a little daunting.
That night she slept in Mrs. Jessop’s old room. She thought it best not to unsettle the cat. The light from the moon was so clear, Lauren could see the prints on the tips of her fingers. Luna didn’t move once, blue eyes fixed and shining. Black clouds hung like apostrophes.
In the morning Lauren sat where Mrs. Jessop used to sit, morning paper propped up on the teapot with the huge cornflowers. Luna snoozed, tail flicking the day’s dust.
Each day it was the same. Lauren and Luna eating breakfast at the window; intimate and familiar as old friends. Lauren had tried to get the cat to move into her room but she jumped onto Mrs. Jessop’s kitchen counter and refused to budge.
It was easier for Lauren to move all of her stuff into Mrs. Jessop’s room. Luna seemed to approve, purring as Lauren finished putting her clothes into Mrs. Jessop’s enormous walnut wardrobe. That night as Lauren cried over a romantic movie, Luna put her soft little head in Lauren’s lap, just once, then went back to watching the moon.
Lauren began to look forward to getting home from work. As she walked up the garden path she saw Luna at the window, heard her miaow of welcome. It was nice to have someone to come home to.
Lauren started to talk to Luna the way she had heard Mrs. Jessop doing. It was good to have someone to tell her troubles to. Luna listened, uncomplaining, curling around the cushions of the couch as if she understood.
That night as the moon filled the room with a pale glow and Luna rolled about in the beams as if they were warm as sunlight, Lauren realised she hadn’t cried for Mrs. Jessop for over a week. Luna had eased her grief. Sometimes it was as if Mrs. Jessop was still here, reciting her latest poem in the kitchen.
Lauren hadn’t been sure about cats, but she was sure about Luna. She made her think about the way fingers of the past drift back into the present. How the memories of people no longer in our lives can sometimes live on in things and in places. And maybe sometimes in cats.
The moon splashed into the room, a furl of water. Lauren painted more silver orbs on glass. Luna gazed outward and upward. The stillness was precious. Lauren thought of Mrs. Jessop and knew she would be pleased. Knew she was smiling somewhere in the silvery dark. For all she had wanted was that her cat could keep watching the moon.
*Bless you, Kitty. You will be greatly missed…..