We had been in Seattle about a month. It was just the two of us, a good dog, and a decent record collection. We sold the records, bought some furniture, and invested in the moment.
There would be kids in the future, but the first wouldn’t arrive for another four years. There would be other dogs and more cats, but before you can have more of anything you must start with one, and so it was that Tricia found an ad in the paper, drove to a house far away that was filled with fleas and felines, scooped up a little white kitten, and brought him home to stay.
The cat, we quickly determined, was a psycho, and by the end of the day we had named him Norman for cinematic reasons. We fed him, loved him, and locked the door whenever we showered.
We spent the next few years sliding around the map, logging hours in moving trucks while Norman slept inside whatever sweater Tricia was wearing. He didn’t care for the ride, but he adapted quickly to the relative destination. He split his days between homebody and grand adventure.
He was aloof and would disappear for warm days at a time, only to take his winters between bedclothes and unsuspecting laps. He was loyal and would follow us whenever we tried to walk anywhere, which led us to begin more than one trip by climbing out the window. He was mean and would beat on other cats for slights he only imagined, and he wore his ripped ear and toothless grin like a badge of honor. He was patient and kind, letting two small boys and their friends carry him around like a sack of rag dolls.
Thirteen years is a fairly long haul for a cat on the go, and upon arriving at our current residence Norman decided to retire from his role of lovable scoundrel and concentrate all of his time to cleaning himself on the comforter. Also, sleeping.
A few nights ago Norman stretched himself across Tricia’s body, meowed in annoyance every time she stopped petting him, then pushed his face against hers and purred them both to sleep. It was his way of saying goodbye.
Sometime in the night Norman went out the patio door, past the litter box, and into the wild where he rarely ventured. He found himself a dark, quiet spot, and he died.
At least that is what we are telling ourselves. He was only outside a few minutes before Tricia checked on him, but by then he was already gone. There are coyotes and birds of prey in the area, but the portion of patio he used is fenced, mostly covered, and on the second floor. His going into the night was his own doing, and he did it with purpose. However, we have yet to find that dark, quiet spot, or any trace of him at all. We suspect, due to a handful of dots we didn’t connect until it was too late, that he may have suffered from rather sudden kidney failure. We do know that he was free from pain, and his life was long and happy.
We have dedicated days to searching for him, taking calculated steps and calling his name, letting hope keep the tears at bay, but too much time has passed and too far a distance has been covered. We have waited, but I fear the wait is over.
This is our way of saying goodbye.