although we have always been a dog family, my parents and i were haphazardly graced with a stray in 2005, a few months after our german shepherd died. without telling my father (cats “creep him out”), my mom started feeding her. i named her woogie. she was a beauty, and can be seen her awkwardly sunning herself.
for the past seven years, this cat has basically ignored me. i just chalked it up to general feline aloofness.
when we got roxy, the puppy became an annoying younger sister to woogie. roxy spent hours a day trying to knock woogie off the deck bannister. for her part in the act, the cat would sit calmly on the railing and occasionally take a paw swipe at roxy’s head.
when my mom died, dad started feeding the cat. even said hi to her sometimes.
four months later, he gave roxy away. woogie’s main source of entertainment was gone.
since i’ve been home, i’ve noticed a distinct difference in the cat. where she used to disappear for sometimes an entire day and just come back to eat, she rarely leaves the yard now. every time i come outside, she is lounging on the deck or sitting on top of the grill, wanting to be pet or scratched.
when my dad and his girlfriend go for walks around the block, woogie goes with them and trots along like a puppy.
after losing mom and then the puppy, it’s clear that this poor cat is terrified that another one of us is going to leave.
it breaks my heart just a little bit more to see how deeply my mom’s death has affected the entire family – stray cat and all. even though she would probably scramble out of my arms in a heartbeat, i just want to cuddle woogie and let her know that i get it, i understand. when you lose so much, you start to cling ferociously to what you have left. you wake up in a cold sweat, panicked that somebody else you love is going to slip through your fingers. there’s a constant thrum in your chest that whispers in the voice of that person whose voice you’ll never hear again. and no matter how hard you try to be strong or aloof, the deep-seeded need for security in love will override it all.
i wish i could scoop her up and promise her that i will do everything i can to keep her safe. somehow, i will find a way to stay.