A CAT…IN PASSING
It was a Monday, the start of a Monday, actually. That day of the week reserved for long intakes of breath while getting ready to start another work week, of trepidation over what was not done the week before so has to be done before the week’s work can even begin, and then there’s the week’s work ahead. Monday, not hump day, not thank God it is any day at all. It was a Monday, and the start of it was punctuated by what is laid down here, as an Op/Ed, but really is a short story of non-fiction if one is to consider physical experience also fiction if one is to think about the thoughts generated by such occurrence. What happens in the real world is a series of rolling facts physicists call occurrences of non-fiction, while what happens in our minds is called subjective thoughts about the effects of physical reality. Monday was a day of disturbing facts and the resulting mental ‘fiction’ we must all retain as humans to remain part of the living fabric of the planet. Here’s what happened.
“…And so, a cat died. Harvey, my cat of all time (so far in life) died on the road just north of my home on the other side of the stuttered rows of pine trees. Trees that I planted, and he loved. He died two years and four months ago, almost exactly. You can tell I am not keeping track. Today, I got in my car and drove down my driveway to hit the road and drive into Lake Geneva. I was on my way to collect stories for my newspaper, which comes out on Wednesdays. I was lost in thought, pulling out of the development I live in, heading east. I accelerated after turning at the stop sign and did not truly notice the road in front of me until I saw the dead cat.
The cat was gray like Harvey had been. The cat lay not five feet from where Harvey expired after he himself was struck by a car. I drove around the body and headed for the downtown area. I got one-third of the way there and then had to pull over. I could not go on. I had to go back. I turned around and sped to where the cat lay dead on the asphalt. Instead of stopping, I went home to get a plastic bag and a cardboard box. I collected those and headed back to where the body lay.
The cat was not Harvey, or anything like him, except for the size and color. The cat was all scarred up and his paw pads were worn. His fur was ruffled and ratty like it had never once been brushed or washed. I gently placed the cat’s body in the bag, folded it up and then put it inside the box, carefully folding the four top parts over and then joining them in the middle.
I drove to the veterinarian’s office. The women at the front desk charged me twenty-seven dollars to dispose of the body, just as they had after Harvey died. I left the office, put the little receipt in my wallet, for no good reason at all, and then drove toward town.
I drove to the Riviera Pier complex in the center of Lake Geneva, where I was to record the news in a few
minutes. Instead of waiting for the reporters, though, I walked out onto the pier to the south of the complex, among the Gage Marine passenger boats. I had nothing from the cat. There’d been no collar. Nothing. All I had was the receipt.
I walked to the end of the pier and took the receipt from my wallet. I moistened the small piece of paper and then tossed it onto the ruffled waters of the lake’s surface. I could only think of the saying I’d heard when I’d last been at the Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, so I said those words: “May God make his face to shine upon you.” It was all I had.
Sometimes, not often, I wonder why we don’t really think enough of one another, or the other animals around us inhabiting this earth. Am I too maudlin in my contemplation this afternoon over the death of cat I never knew or had ever seen? I think I probably am, but I am not going to apologize to anyone for being that way.
Harvey made me do it. And God made Harvey make me do it.
Thanks for reading this and thinking about how life may be going for you.”