Three weeks ago my cat of seventeen years, Lucy, died of pancreatic cancer. I’ve missed her terribly, but it has impacted our youngest cat, Wilson, especially hard.
Lucy ebbed away over the weekend in early July but, in the end, she needed a vet’s assistance to pass. All that weekend our other cats, Mrs. Claws (11) and Wilson (6) watched her get weaker and weaker until those last hours, when Lucy could no longer move. At some level I thought when we left the house with Lucy early that Monday morning, the other cats understood that she wasn’t coming back home.
The day after Lucy left us, I was on a plane for New York, happily distracted by a busy writers conference for the rest of the week. Both cats did fine while I was away, but when I returned at the end of the week, Wilson started searching the house. It was almost as if he’d seen Lucy and me leave at the same time, so he concluded that we’d return at the same time, too.
Wilson was Lucy’s buddy. He’d often follow her around the house. And if Lucy meowed with anything like distress, Wilson would be there beside her in seconds, as if to make sure she was okay.
I didn’t realize it, but a routine had developed during the last years of Lucy’s life. At night when the lights when out for sleep, Wilson would go down to the basement, where Lucy liked to spend her evenings, and together they would come up to the main floor.
Now that I was back from New York, Wilson was doing the same thing but now… No Lucy.
Bedtime. The lights go out. There is a quiet moment before sleep. And then it begins: the most pathetic, plaintive mews down from the basement; sad cries that move from one corner of the house to the other, as if Wilson is moving around down there, searching for Lucy in the dark.
Sometimes during the evenings, Wilson sits at the top of the stairs to the basement, watching, occasionally crying out sadly. And when I started my workout routine again (also in the basement), it made my heart crinkle up into a ball to watch him meow forlornly in the storage area, searching the nooks and hidey holes. Lucy always used to watch my workouts. She must be here somewhere, right?
I’ve been making an extra effort to play with Wilson and he’s been making an extra effort to keep me company. We’ll learn to live on without Lucy. Together.
Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.