cats and a scary story

These are two of my favorite guys: Kevin the boyfriend and Floyd the big black cat, who actually died the day after this photo was taken in March. I was very glad when it dawned on me that he spent his last full day on earth hanging out in the sun with his dad.

As most of you probably know by now, we also have a beautiful orange cat named Chawser. The two cats were best friends and Chawser became quite lonely when Floyd passed away.

To help him readjust, we adopted a new kitten named Kaia who came home a few weeks after Floyd died. Kaia would rather not be bothered by anyone, especially her annoying parents thankyouverymuch. So she doesn’t get to be part of this story.

Our front door is basically one big window, so we keep the shade drawn at night – you know, to ward off the killers. The other night, as I was walking home after Harvard Sailing Team rehearsal, I saw some movement inside our house through a bottom portion of the window that wasn’t covered by the blinds.  Out of curiosity, and because I’m part killer myself, I crouched down to see what it was. And much to my incredible surprise and dismay, I saw a large black cat sitting squarely on our living room floor, licking his paw and scratching is head. My heart stopped. Floyd?! I even said it out loud – “Floyd?!”

Hundreds of possible scenarios, from the logical to the supernatural, instantly ran through my mind: Kevin is about to surprise me with a new cat who looks just like Floyd; my friends played a trick on me and Floyd isn’t really dead – mean!; I’m sleepwalking; I only imagined that Floyd died in some bizarre dissociation from reality and I might need to be hospitalized; I’ve had a terrible memory lapse; this is a wrinkle in time.

As I crawled closer and closer to the door, my mind struggled to unlock itself, the way it does when you’re looking at a photo of, say, a building and your friend says, “See the building?” but all you can see is a bizarre abstract shape that looks nothing like a building. And even though you intellectually know, because you’ve been told so, that it’s a picture of a building as plain as day, that other weird shape is stuck to your brain’s interpretation like laffy taffy, blocking any and all other possible interpretations, and no matter how hard your logical mind tries to see the building, you’re trapped in a prison of your own visual disorganization.

I knelt down on the stoop in front of our apartment and pressed my nose against the cold glass. Why. The. Hell. Is. There. A. Fat. Black. Cat. In. My. House. And if it really IS Floyd, (oh God, oh God, is it?!) I’m going to squeeze him to death with joyful love when I get in there. I didn’t even know I’d missed him this much until now.

Then I shifted on my knees a little to the left and my perspective suddenly opened up. I saw the building, as it were, and my lovely abstract image disappeared without fanfare. It wasn’t Floyd at all. In fact, it wasn’t even a black cat. It was just sweet Chawser, who’s put on several pounds since Floyd’s passing and has assumed the role of King Cat at our house. He was standing in the exact perfect spot for his bright orange coat to appear *black* when one is looking at him through the distorting beveled glass border of the window.

Sigh. It really did look just like Floyd.

I miss you, Floyd. I wish you were secretly alive and living in the Caribbean somewhere. If you are, please come visit me at least once so I can squeeze you to death with joyful love. Then you can go right back to your pretty ladies and your beach cocktails and I won’t tell a soul.

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