Waking up because a cat is licking my scalp.
“You just ate last night.”
Lick. Lick. Lick.
I groan a little, and as I sit up, I feel the bedsheets shift around me. Grabbing my phone, I pad barefoot down the hall into the kitchen, littler and faster footsteps tapping behind me. As soon as I pull the tab on the can of food, I hear a happy “Thrrup!” in the distance, and another rapid set of taps is followed by another entrance to the kitchen.
“Morning, Cady,” I say to him, and he ignores me in favor of digging into a pile of something chicken-flavored. Yertl chows down with similar abandon, and I smile, then I yawn.
I linger and watch them eat for a while, relishing the quiet time to myself, and open the email on my phone. For a moment, I forget how to breathe.
Date: Jul 10, 2015 10:34:42 PM
Subject: Long Time, No Anything
I hope this note finds you well, and more importantly finds you happy. It’s all I ever wanted for you. Maybe timing really is everything, but it wasn’t fair to you what happened, and it certainly wasn’t your fault. I’m sure I didn’t tell you that enough times when it mattered, and it may make no difference now, but it wasn’t your fault. Depression doesn’t work that way.
I’m writing now because the Supreme Court’s ruling a couple of weeks ago reminded me that for all the other stuff you and I had going on between us, the catalyst – what my revolving cast of therapists calls a “trigger” – was Prop 8 passing in California the night after we elected Barack Obama President. Can you believe it was that long ago, or how much has happened since then?
I got married last year. She coaches high school sports, and yes, I can hear you rolling your eyes from here at the stereotype. I’m sure you know it’s been legal in New York for about four years now, but I was single for a while until I had some real confidence that I was looking for a partner, and not for a savior or a crutch. I think you and she would like each other, but I don’t have any illusions that we’re all going to start hanging out anytime soon.
I checked your blog a few days ago when I first thought about writing this email to you, just to see what your life’s been like, and I wanted to say that I’m so sorry about your father. I know how special he was to you, and you to him. I hope you’re doing okay now, whatever you’ve been doing in the four and a half years since you last blogged, whomever you’re doing it with and wherever you are. I also want to let you know that it was a revelation to read what you wrote about our last few months together, and I hope that you’ve made your peace with it as I have. You owe nothing to me but what you gave me when we were together, and that was already more than I think I had any right to expect.
Take care, Debra, and be good to yourself. Someone has to.
There’s a moment in the best New York summer storms when you think the rain has passed, and the sun is shining brightly through the trees and reflecting off the soaked city’s million windows, and then the rain starts again, just for a couple of minutes, but the sun stays out. If there is a Creator, I imagine that in those moments, He is mourning what’s been lost but unflinchingly optimistic about what’s to come. That’s how I feel right now, leaning against the counter in my new kitchen and sobbing into a pile of tissues with a broad smile on my face.
After I pull myself together, I put a little dry food in the cats’ bowls, and start a pot of coffee brewing. It’s a little early on a Saturday morning for me not to try to go back to sleep, but I know it won’t happen. I walk back to the other end of the apartment nonetheless, on my way passing two empty bedrooms – empty this weekend, anyway. I open the door quietly, and slip back into bed, trying not to jostle or make noise, just so I can lie next to my husband for a little while longer. He stirs despite my best efforts.
“What time is it?”
“It’s about a quarter to nine. Sorry I woke you, honey. I just had to feed the cats.”
“Mmkay. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Warren rolls toward me and kisses my shoulder, then rolls away. Within minutes, he’s asleep again, and all that’s left on my face is the smile.