May is drawing to a close, and as its last days near, temperatures soar. It feels like it’s been weeks since our last rainfall, and every time I open my weather app, little suns stare back at me. The grass in our backyard is becoming crispy. My garden requires constant drenching with a hose. And the general sense of things is thirsty.
It’s been a hard month for us. A little over a week ago, our dear Nox-cat got hit by a car and killed. It was late afternoon when we found out. We’d spent a luxurious day lounging on a blanket in the shade. Indy babbling and jolting around on all fours, Jordan alternating between practicing with his bow and lounging. And then my boss pulled up to deliver the kitten we were watching for the weekend, and mentioned that a little dark-colored cat was dead on the side of the road a few houses down.
My stomach fell immediately.
We’d never meant for Nox to be an outdoor cat. He was too fearless. The road outside our house too fast. But he’d perfected the art of slipping out between our ankles, and he capitalized on moments when our hands were full with Indy or leashes or armloads of laundry.
We buried him under the magnolia tree in our backyard. It was the first grave we’ve dug for one of our pets, and it felt odd to be the ones to bury him. I felt very tall as I stood by his open grave. Very adult.
As we stood over him, tucked him into a pillowcase, we both cried. I thought about my dad, burying all of my beloved childhood pets in our backyard–Rosie the golden retriever, Squeaks the guinea pig, Tyler the cat… I mourned all of them as a kid–sobbed my heart out over each and every one of them.
But I never realized how lonely it is to be an adult. To be the one to say the final goodbye.
Even though it’s been a week now–even though I felt that stiff little body when I bent to stroke him on the side of the road–I still keep expecting him to show up. Expecting to hear the familiar sound of him leaping up to hang on the door, so that he can peer in through the window at us. I can’t break the habit of opening the door a crack and slipping out sideways, so that he can’t escape. Can’t stop feeding Minerva an extra portion of food.
We miss him one million times more than we ever could’ve expected.
But even in the midst of our mourning, life goes marching on, and sadness seems paired with sweetness.
We’ve had visitors and crawfish boils and dances in the kitchen. We’ve had baby giggles and kale from the garden, and Minerva’s thumping paws as she races gleefully from room to room, no longer a target of Nox’s bullying (Minerva is certainly not mourning).
I started my new job, and now Jordan and I have a walk across campus together, and lunches next to the turtle pond. My best advice for new parents worried about the toll having a kid will have on their relationship? Work in adjacent buildings.
Early on in May, we’d pause on our walks home to pluck mulberries from an overhanging tree, and drive home with the windows down (though, to be honest I dislike wind in cars, because I hate when my hair gets blown into my face).
Now the mulberries are gone, and our afternoon walks are hurried and sweaty. But still lovely. Because we get to walk the stress of the day off before we get in the car.
Currently my parents are visiting. It’s been fun to see them with Indy–my dad gets down on all fours with him, drags all sorts of decrepit toys home from yard sales, and sticks him on his lap for jammin’ piano sessions. My mom gave him a bottle this morning. Our house is full of people and music and dogs, and right now it’s just what we need as a distraction.
We still miss our little black cat though. Life is such an odd mixture of things–so serious and hard and whacky and random and funny and sweet and heartbreaking, all rolled together, so that half the time you aren’t sure what you feel or why.
How was your May?
2 thoughts on “On May shadows and sunshine”
So sorry to hear about your kitty 😦
By the way – I think we went to the same school around the same time 🙂 I graduated from William Smith with a BA in Environmental Studies in 2011 and finished the MAT program in 2012. Also, I believe Jordan worked at the Finger Lakes Institute or was in Greens or something with me too… Small world, eh? 🙂