When Lisa first wrote to me about Murray, she said, “You have to meet this guy. I am holding him for you. You need to laugh.” The last bit was in response to our having just put our most beloved 14-year-old cat to sleep. An experience that would have sent me over the edge had I not been pregnant with Emory. I used to suggest that putting a pet to sleep while 6 months pregnant was just really bad luck. But I’m starting to believe that since it had to happen, it was sort of better that way because I had something positive to focus on. Regardless of its timing, the experience nearly knocked me to the ground. Lisa was right; I did need to laugh.
Hours after bringing Murray into our home I was in tears. And not the tears I had grown used to dealing with the weeks leading up to Murray’s arrival. I cried from laughing so hard. I have known hundreds of cats over the years, and not one of them has ever made me laugh as hard and as frequently as Murray.
Schmitty died on April 21st of this year. And only recently have I been able to talk about him without crying. Now I smile. There are still difficult moments. I think about him and my chest starts to hurt, like, my heart actually begins to ache. It starts from deep within, bubbles up to the surface gaining more power and force as it gets closer to the top and then it takes my breath away. Breathing and all the other bodily functions that usually happen involuntarily become obvious and therefore very difficult. Sometimes the heartache comes on so quickly it forces an audible sound from my throat. I guttural sound, like being kicked in the stomach, vomiting air, a sorrowful dry heave. I imagine it’s the way a window fan feels whenever the air outside moves through it faster than its blades can spin. I still wake up feeling that way sometimes when I realize I’ll never see Katrina again, my grandmother, and yes, Schmitty.
But now we have Murray. And while he will never, ever replace The Big Guy, he is always there to make me laugh. For example, that last paragraph took over 30 minutes to write because Murray jumped on my lap midway through and would not leave me be. Murray doesn’t like it when I’m sad. I swear. He knew I was writing about something sad.
Sometimes I think he works overtime at making me happy. And of course I had to take screen caps of this.
And so last night I finally had a talk with him about it. I told him he didn’t have to keep up all the clowning around, that TobyJoe and I feel better and that he could finally relax. I told him that I know that people and cats can’t be funny all of the time. I told him that he could ignore us if he wanted to, that he got the job. He’s here to stay. I told him that he could take a vacation from all the silliness.
And instead of taking some time off, in the middle of our talk, he climbed into the kitchen sink just as I finished the dishes and tried to bite the water. Murray may never replace Schmitty, but he fills a vacancy in my heart that needed a tenant.