Queen Sophie Bell is nearly 16 years old. She's persnickity and grumpy and shows affection to only 3-4 people - "tolerates" another small handful and runs, hides or growls at most all others. To be honest, Sophie is not really very "catlike" ... has a more doggish personality. But we have a special bond. At a particularly low point in my life I went to the animal shelter and was immediately adopted by her when she jumped up on my shoulder, curled into my neck with her nose pressed against my cheek and serenaded me with the loudest purr I'd ever heard. She's spiritually nursed me through many a hard time since ... maybe because I know I was chosen BY her to be here FOR her and she challenges me to do so on a daily basis! I couldn't bear to let her down; it's not an option so she tells me! LOL!
Sophie has always been very skittish outdoors ... doesn't go out alone and doesn't stray far from her exit door, preferring that it stay open for a quick entrance if she gets frightened. That's why we were so alarmed when she went missing a few weeks ago. We replayed every scene of family going in or out when she could have slipped out unnoticed -- and there were a few. We searched the attic because we'd had a repairman up there (although she's never seemed the least bit curious about what's up there)We searched every inch of space inside the house and out ... all of her favorite hidey holes - fearing the worst because of her advanced age -- that she had simply reached her time and passed away in her sleep.
After three days my hopes were dimming and I was fearful each time I thought of a new area of the house to search. After five days I was beginning to allow myself just the tiniest bit of grieving ... just wishing I could find her and put her to rest. Yet I couldn't give up completely; it didn't stop me from looking for her - slowing down as I drove through the neighborhood, calling for her each night when it got quiet enough for me to hear if she responded.
On the seventh night, after the "kitty-kitty, here Sophie" calling ritual I went to bed and was awakened after midnight by my daughter calling, "Mom, come quick, Sophie's HOME!" And there she was, peering in the back door window, the same as her norm (from the other side of the door).
Where she was during that long week we'll likely never know. She's such a scaredy-cat that I can't fathom her being out in the big world alone. And she's such a particular piggy about her food and being fed on schedule that I'm thinking someone must have thought her a stray and taken her in -- maybe until they'd had enough of her persnickity cat self and tossed her back out to us again! ;-) Regardless, it's such a huge weight off my heart to know she's safe and home again - and purring in my ear.
The Cat's Song
Mine, says the cat, putting out his paw of darkness.
My lover, my friend, my slave, my toy, says
the cat making on your chest his gesture of drawing
milk from his mother's forgotten breasts.
Let us walk in the woods, says the cat.
I'll teach you to read the tabloid of scents,
to fade into shadow, wait like a trap, to hunt.
Now I lay this plump warm mouse on your mat.
You feed me, I try to feed you, we are friends,
says the cat, although I am more equal than you.
Can you leap twenty times the height of your body?
Can you run up and down trees? Jump between roofs?
Let us rub our bodies together and talk of touch.
My emotions are pure as salt crystals and as hard.
My lusts glow like my eyes. I sing to you in the mornings
walking round and round your bed and into your face.
Come I will teach you to dance as naturally
as falling asleep and waking and stretching long, long.
I speak greed with my paws and fear with my whiskers.
Envy lashes my tail. Love speaks me entire, a word
of fur. I will teach you to be still as an egg
and to slip like the ghost of wind through the grass.
~ Marge Piercy `