For the first time in a long time … this morning I wake up.
I mean, I “just” wake up. I don’t go whole-tilt full-throttle from sleeping to frenzied adrenalized activity.
I don’t fumble frantically for my cell phone (Oh, gawd, did I hit the snooze button in my sleep AGAIN? How many times? SIX? WTF? What time is it now? I’ll be late AGAIN!)
I don’t sprint down the hallway to check on my mom who has Alzheimer’s. Did she take her morning meds? Is she up to any of the … special trouble a person with dementia can get herself into? Like calling the police and ambulances any time she feels lonely. Or accidentally on purpose taking a whole packet of Ex-Lax, to pay me back for going out on a date the night before.
I don’t panic that my 19-year-old poodle’s seizure medication is late. I don’t spring out of bed, frantically checking his whereabouts if he’s not in one of our four strategically placed doggie beds. Has he wedged himself in some corner or behind some large piece of furniture? He forgot how to “back up” when he was around 17.
I don’t bounce up from bed with false frantic cheer to cook my partner a huge, American-style diner breakfast. Half a bag of tater tots. “Buttery” grits with jalapeno peppers and faux bacon bits. Homemade biscuits, slathered with Vegenaise or chutney, filled with Gimme Lean sausage massaged into patties spiked with lots of cayenne pepper and fried in a pan. Fresh sliced juicy tomatoes. Orange juice. Oh, and the chai. Mustn’t forget the chai! I often wonder how an Indian man got it into his head that THIS full veganized American feast is what he wants for breakfast.
I just lie in bed, sunlight on my face, slowly coming alive, at my own pace, in my own time, stretching languidly like the grey tabby beside me.
Because it is a Sunday.
And my mom lives in Georgia now.
And Muggsy is dead – although he still haunts my soul, if not this house.
I still hear his funny little “whuffs.”
And his indignant squeals when he’s become caught behind something – although, frequently that appears just to be a wild goose outside the house, or a cat screeching in heat. Or, sometimes, one of my cats murdering a mouse.
And I still see him out of the corner of my eye. A blur of apricot fur and heartrending cuteness. The trick is not to look directly – because if I turn and stare full-on, he’s gone. So I just have to look at him sideways, and mostly through my heart, not my eyes.
And my partner is – temporarily – gone. At his sister’s for the weekend.
I’m more alone than I’ve ever been in my whole life.
Though still not alone.
There’s my Jack Russell, but he is still sleeping. Not yet demanding his morning walk. Not yet destroying things.
And there are three cats, but two are off doing their little mysterious cat-things, and the third is in bed beside me. When he climbs on top of me and starts kneading my chest, or butting his little head against my face, he’s not saying, “Get up and feed me, woman.” No, the only demand THIS cat ever makes is, “Love me.”
So I love him, and I pet him, and we slowly come to life together.
And any minute now, I will get up and make myself a cup of English tea and a piece of toast thickly spread with homemade blackberry jam.
Any minute now.
Any minute now …