Early on a Saturday morning I was pushing my cart around a grocery store, trying not to cry. Trying not to notice the aisle of pet food where just two weeks before I had bought a bag of cat chow, not knowing my cat would get sick three days later and die soon after. I still imagined her at home in the window waiting for my return.
What I need, I thought, is to run into someone I know who’s a cat person, but the store was full of strangers. Then, as I finished bagging my purchases, a woman approached and said, “Is that you?” She was a friend from years ago and gave me a hug. “How are you doing?”
I told her the truth because Cathy is a cat person. The first one I ever knew, in fact. Back then she had a black and white cat called Pookie which I thought a very silly name—until I had my own cat. A stray tiger I named Clara but often called Tootles, who took over my favorite rocking chair and my life. That was three cats ago, three silly names ago.
This morning Cathy and I stood beside the check-out lane and wiped away tears. “I love them more than people,” she whispered and I nodded.
It was what I most needed. Next to my cat.