Saturday, 30 January 2010

Dear Reggie

Dear Reggie.

You remember how we met? I know you were there, but I don't think I ever told you how we got put in the same room. Maybe you never thought about it, but really, it's one of those bizarre circumstances. I mean think about it, you were in the waiting room of a veterinary Clinic, and I didn't have a pet.

This is where I come in. A few years before this, I had been diagnosed with a chronic illness that made my life one of enforced isolation. It made school impossible, it made work impossible, and as both parents worked, I basically wore a path from my room to the TV to the bathroom and back again and listened to the clock tick until someone got home. I was actually starting to be interested in daytime television. A Bad Sign.

Which brings me to the day we met.

We actually met through my father. My dad, was working on the security systems at University of Sydney. The University campus had a whole bunch of things open to the public. Various computer labs, the Cooking classes let their professional kitchens get hired out, the Veterinary Courses had a working clinic...

In this last, was you.

So then, one day, I got a phonecall out of the blue.  It was my dad, calling from work. "Would you like a cat?"

You poor thing. I know, you're proud and fussy as all like you are, but that was the first thought that came to me at the time. You were the proverbial Kitten who became the Cat. Already full grown, donated to the clinic. Our eyes met through a glass box about the size of a large fish tank in the Vet Clinic waiting room, and a name tag with the words "Free to a good home" taped on the glass.

I don't know who came before me, but cat's aren't known for fear and shyness, so it must have been tough. You were such a (pardon the phrase) fraidy-cat when we first met that one had to wonder what they'd been putting you through for your first eight lives.

I had to admit, I was worried. I was more or less confined to my apartment, and you were... not. A part of me was trying to decide how I'd manage keeping you if you made a fuss about getting outside. I was pretty high maintenance back then.

And amazingly, so were you. We were made for each other that way.

We brought you home and you vanished under a chair for two weeks. The food we left for you was gone in the morning, and we kept filling the bowl again. By week three you dared to come out and sit on the floor in the same room as us. If the TV ever had a sudden noise, or somebody sneezed, there would be a blur of tabby and we wouldn't see you for an hour or two.

It's nice to know that I won you over, sweetie.

And once I did, I suddenly became aware that I wasn't getting you off my bed/lap/chair/blankets with a crowbar.

You have been companion and friend, and for some reason, never showed any interest in the world outside the apartment, which worked for us just fine. Especially for me. It was nice having a fellow heartbeat around. For a lot of life, that cat was the only other heartbeat there was.

I didn't think you'd survive the  next move, interstate. You were so jumpy back then. I was sure you'd hate to fly. I should have known better. You got over the stress of the flight the second you discovered that a ground floor house had more sun. You liked the extra sun during the summer months, I liked the furry foot warmer during the winter.

I read a story once about Dickens' Cat, who would start alerting him if he was up too late. Many a night I'd sit at this computer too long and a pair of paws would come up from the floor and start scratching lightly at my knee, a little furry alarm letting me know it was time to warm up the bed for the more important creatures still awake.

All things good must end however. As you can probably tell from the sappy sentimental prose, that time has come with you, Dear Reggie.

Whatever else I can say, I know we did right by you Reggie. We lose the things we love. That's a fact. That's why we find new things to love. That's survival. And we loved you for a good long time. And we won't forget that feeling.

Or the cat hair. A legacy that will last far longer than anything else you had to your name. You touched us all with the part you played in our lives. Every time I put on any set of clothing, or sit on any flat surface in the house, I know that you'll be touching me still.


The whole family.

We don't know how old she was when we found her. There was no record of that. She was scheduled to be put down if nobody saved her from that box in a clinic, and instead she spent another near decade with us in a family of people who loved her to bits.

RIP. And thank you for the company Reg.