Things I did not expect post-cat death
March 7, 2011
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It’s funny the way grief works itself out. So far, I have not moved any of Elgar’s things (bed, litter trays) because I think I’d notice their absence more than I notice their presence. Things like his food bowls were already taken up and waiting for his return; but the half-used kidney tablet is still sat on the big tub of cat biscuits, where it’s been sat for the last five or so weeks.
This may be more down to my laziness than anything else.
Oddly, I’m not ‘seeing’ him out of the corner of my eye the way I did when my childhood cat died. Possibly this is because Elgar didn’t have one particular sleeping spot – no, the whole flat was his sleeping spot. Nor am I finding it hard to sleep without him curled up next to me, which is also odd, because I found it hard to sleep in Japan without him there. Here are some other things I did not expect to happen now he’s gone.
- I don’t know what to do with my keys. The keys always lived in the lock of the back door so I could easily let him in and out. Now, I barely use the back door, especially with it being so damn cold. It would make more sense to keep them by the front door – except the hall’s so narrow there’s no room for anything like a table. So, they’re pretty much living in the kitchen still. Pointlessly.
- My flat is a cat hair mine. I always assumed the black tumbleweeds of fluff that gathered under the kitchen radiator, next to his food bowls, dropped off each day and slowly assembled. But no. They’re still collecting. I do not want to look under the sofa / fridge / bed. On the other hand, I now understand the air currents in my home.
- I’ve forgotten what I used to do with my time when I went out straight from work. I’ve spent the last two and a half years getting to the office early, racing home, doing an injection, then racing back into town. These days, I have no idea what to do with my time.
- Dead cats are everywhere. Why, just now, University Challenge had ‘Elgar’ as an answer. Country House Rescue uses Pomp and Circumstance March #1 on the trailer. The Guardian Weekend quiz had Ed Reardon and his cat as a question the other week. Someone brought a Japanese novel The Cat in the Coffin to the London Review Book Swap. To be fair, I did kind of expect this. Dead cats were everywhere after his lymphoma diagnosis. What I didn’t expect was not being upset by it; instead I find myself welling up randomly on trains or while cooking.
- People are lovely. Friends have rallied and made sure I’m OK; tweeters I can’t remember ever having any interaction with sent me sympathies. The age of the internet means an easily confused cat with an enormous purr and, in the end, not quite an infinite number of lives can interest strangers around the world. This would have freaked him out massively (strangers? Eep!) but warms my heart.
Anyway. His remains have come back to me in a little wooden box with an engraved brass plaque; I planned to bury just the ashes (undiggable and shallow garden) but the box is sealed. Since getting out the drill feels a little, um, indecorous, for the moment he sits on the shelf above the TV.
Some people have suggested I get another cat. And one day I will (one day I will probably open the curtains to see one sitting by the back door). But while I still find myself occasionally trying to make a deal with a deity I don’t believe in to have Elgar back, which I know to be impossible, I think it best I remain catless.
Normal service resumes shortly with a screengrabbed tour of my childhood, courtesy of South Riding. I bet you can’t wait.