Lily died yesterday. Her absence I notice more keenly than I did her constant subtle presence. She was not a cat who curled on laps. She hid whenever company came. But her independence was not the aloof and haughty kind of which cats are commonly accused. Instead, she behaved like the best of old friends--sharing moments of affection and finding happiness also in solitude. She parceled her companionship, sidling up to my chair as I worked and standing prairie-dog style to rub her head against my hand. Satisfied, she always sauntered just out of reach to watch me for awhile. Every night she appeared a half hour before bedtime to stare at Jim and I and jump up on the couch for the passing attention she relished best. When we rose to settle in, she would beat us down the hall and bed down on my husband's side. Each morning she had shifted to snuggle alongside my legs. I'd blame her for my hitting snooze too many times and linger to pet her soft head before diving into a day.
This morning I didn't want to open my eyes. This morning I had no reason to linger in bed half-awake, all alone.
After six gray days, the sun shined today--brightness bursting through my unwashed windows. If Lily were here, she would be basking in the swatches of sunlight. I would stop to pet her on my way to re-fill my coffee cup. She would roll on her back, her front legs stretched up in surrender, and she'd purr while I rubbed her furry chest. Eyes half-closed, whiskers twitching, she'd share with me that contentedness she captures better than anyone in this home.
Thirteen years we've shared our daily routines. In her small, quiet way she filled empty moments and sunlit patches of carpet. I miss her.