Something in my eye.
Out in my backyard there is a loquat tree. My apartment is small. There are four wooden steps, painted green, from my back porch to the walkway. There is old bamboo covering that I’ve tied to the chain link fence that encloses my yard. And at the base of the loquat tree, I buried my little grey tabby.
She was the kitten of a stray. She was born in an old greenhouse of a friend who gathered her up along with her siblings while the momma cat was out searching for food. My friend called me. She had the kittens all stumbling and crawling in unsteadily and different directions our her son’s bed. I picked the kitten that hissed and batted at my hands to take as my own.
The little kitten lived for many years. Her fur was soft as a rabbit’s. She was always very small. I liked to touch her little soft and moist pink nose. She was a grumpy beast. And she would suddenly bite and scratch my hands right in the middle of me petting her while purring in my lap. Her breath was horrible.
She had been acting weird. Wouldn’t eat. Laid strangely quit on the bed. I took her to the vet. She had a tumor in her gut the size of a golf ball. The most humane thing the doctor had to offer was to kill her. It was late December. I set the appointment two days after Christmas. She liked to curl up and sleep on my favorite Spiderman t-shirt. The morning of the day I was to take her in to put her down, I dug a hole next to the loquat tree. I dug it deep and rectangular. The sky was dark and grey and misty.
She was asleep on the couch, and when I went to pick her up she didn’t cry or move. I thought that she decided to go on her own, but she wasn’t gone and looked up at me. I put her in her travel bag with the t-shirt. This time she didn’t cry that awful cat-cry she usually did when in the car. She sat still and quiet as we drove to the vet.
The vet was in her forties, plain and handsome. Her black hair was long and frizzy with grey streaks. She came into the room for me to sign the form to have my little cat to be cremated. I told her that I planned on taking her with me whole. She watched me wrap the grey striped lifeless tabby in the Spiderman t-shirt. My small and old friend. I put her back in her travel bag.
It had begun to drizzle down a light rain on the way home. In the backyard, I set her in her grave. And I covered her in the cold and wet soil. It wasn’t until later in the night, when I was alone on my couch and the t.v. was off and only the small table lamp was on and my long time roommate was not with me anymore, did I feel how much I loved that damn cat. I was a grown man, but I wept deep and heavy sobs for my little lost friend.
Sometimes I think about her in the Spring, when the loquat tree bares its fruit and the birds leap and sing in its branches. And it makes me smile because I know if she were still here, she’d likely catch and kill one of those birds fluttering above her grave and bring it home for me.