A. Cat passed on a couple of years ago. He was big and white and unruly and benignly despotic. I generally avoid euphemisms such as “passed on,” but I do not have a better phrase for what happened with him; for he simply disappeared, to my consternation and sorrow. But I occasionally saw him thereafter. The first time, he was big as life — I was making coffee and he came trotting out of the bedroom and loped through my kitchenette toward the sliding glass doors that led to the deck, steps and Long Island Sound … and he vanished into the near-blinding morning sun. It was so real that I followed him and, once again, looked everywhere for a cat who was no longer there.
Since then, I have mostly caught him on the edge of my peripheral vision, every once in a while. And I have heard him. He was a bit of a muse and I think that he knew that, and he will forever have a voice and a place in my head, no matter what other characters, real or imagined, walk about in there.
He helped me loads with my first short magazine piece after I returned to writing for print in 2004, enough so that I gave him the byline, which was rather less than he deserved if you look at it rationally, from his point of view. As though yours or mine mattered …
Cats know a thing or two about magic, and A. Cat knew a thing or two more than most cats. There is no doubt in my mind but that he will find his way back into print. I have a folder with his name on it and a dozen pieces in it, ranging from snippets and one liners to completed essays to the first chapter of what could be a somewhat lengthy work of fantasy fiction, which I don’t really write except when A. Cat is too much with me.
Enough foreplay, he’d say. Get on with it. And so … regarding Christmas:
It has occurred to me that I might not linger, as I do, should you have been the kind that is overwrought with theologies. Yours I have always likened to that laser light I was so compelled to chase, for (I admit) our mutual amusement; unfixed and darting, sometimes blinking, wavering; there and yet unpenetrating. Some things just are. We (cats) know that. I am here, I was there, there is where I will be. Et cetera. That I, or you, or anyone, might carry on after death, have a presence, is not to be unexpected. I am glad you do not overthink it quite so much anymore.
Some events and people take up more space than one world has for just them, and they spill over into the next, and the next. That is a way — my way — of explaining to my own satisfaction how your kind abides peaceably and not so peaceably with the differences between what you can see and what you cannot.
We don’t especially need your kind’s point of view on this, do we? Though I would be interested should humans ever come to a common understanding of their mysteries.
We cats do not spill over, we pass back and forth. That is our magic. It isn’t messy, and we are quite content of it. The best of Christmas, for us, is the part about extra containers of cat treats, and I am tempted to join the young ones in ripping into the fresh holiday supply of Whisker Lickin’s. It is a stupid name and the marketing is dreadful, but we all have our vices. Speaking of things unseen, what do you suppose is the unnamed narcotic ingredient they put in those things? Perhaps it is better we do not know. They are fine the way they are.
As is Christmas. I shall see you on the next one, I think, though I shall probably see you before then. It is, as always, too soon to say on either count.
P.S. Though this blogging stuff is nice, bear in mind that I think a more suitable milieu for my thoughts is in bound volumes of printed words. Call me old fashioned, but it is my preference. I should be happy to sign your copy when you get around to having these produced. Which picture of me do you think ought to be on the dust jacket?