The world is tumbling down around you. The bedroom is full of boxes: papers from college and writing classes, the books you are still going to keep after selling ten boxes to the local used bookstore, the winter clothes you won’t need maybe ever since you are moving to California, the sex toys you aren’t using, the love letters you almost didn’t pack but decided you couldn’t throw such artifacts away yet, they would have to be properly disposed of, like burned in a ritual and ashes tossed into a clear lake. The boxes surround two sides of the bed, tucked between the bed and the wall, and there is only one side left open. The boxes are the shared apartment, shared life, shared love being packed away.
Giving themselves back to themselves.
Every morning, she is there in the bed. You wake up and greet the return of the sun with relief, and then remember the destruction of your life, not yet able to lean on the building of the new life. But she is there in the bed. She is curled next to your belly or behind your knees, a little black and white cat not so little anymore, sometimes sleeping tucked under the covers when it’s cold, sometimes her head on the pillow. She makes eye contact, purring. She knows something already, knows the hurting that pours off of you, and she catches it. She puts her paws on you. She closes her eyes slowly and it’s a nod, it’s a greeting, it’s acknowledgement. You hold her. She fits in your curled up body. You pet her. She soothes your nervous system, already activated, already high alert with the tenth breath of the morning.
When this ends, she will still be there, with the white patches of fur on her neck and chest that are softer than the black, with her four pink toes and one black toe, with her relentless swarming when you are trying to cry and concentrate and clean and create and crash because she’s hungry.
You have forgotten to eat, so she reminds you.
She curls in your lap just as you were about to get up, but knows you don’t need to fuss now, you don’t need to fidget more, you just need to calm. She allows your full body caresses in order to give you her vibration. They say that the 20 to 140 hertz vibrations of a cat’s purring can heal stress, infection, swelling, high blood pressure, broken bones. And because it is the law that you cannot disturb a sleeping cat, you must just sit still, next to all the books you’ve packed but reading none of them, as your shoulders drop just half an inch.