life lessons from the cat

by Ms. Joy

Contemplative Kitty
Rosa is a sweet cat. She has dainty paws and clear green eyes. She loves Miss N, snuggles with me in the morning and generallys stays out of the boy’s way. She has had her flirtations with patiently dealing with his hugs, tugs and pokes but Rosa does not have the real fortitude to withstand a rambunctious three year old.

Rosa has tolerated the new addition to our family for the last 9 months, Buzzy. There is a measured grace to how they have circled the apartment in their quest for a resting place or spot to bat at a toy.

Buzz Lightyear
This last month has been the most tumultuous for our little family. We have moved out of our apartment with its balcony strewn with gardening projects and cutouts in the stairwell that are just the right size to make daring leaps into the living room. It is the site of very happy memories of our children playing, Miss N learning to read and the boy discovering single pulley systems, something he built everywhere, including the refrigerator. The apartment also holds memories of some of our darkest times. It is no secret within the family that my brain has locked within its grey matter the inability to properly regulate serotonin and dopamine. I take medication to regulate all of that but before lithium, life was sometimes dark. Or very, very light.

I love our apartment, as much as one can love a structure. Mr and I lived with his parents for a good chunk of our marriage and this was our first independent home.

And we’re leaving it.

The cabinet filled with my father’s dishes will be packed up securely and stowed away. My books, those tomes from school, the Penguin classics and trashy crime novels translated from their original Swedish will be tucked into boxes. I’m not sure where to begin packing or unpacking because we are right back where we started. There are oh so many reasons why and I will not go into it all but it’s painful that we are giving up our sweet little home.  To return to another home of sorts.

The children have adjusted well, as children are wont to do. Buzzy immediately took to the woods surrounding the house. What she gets up to on those long hours away I can only imagine but it exhausts her and she sleeps the deepest of all cat sleeps upon returning.

Rosa has not adjusted as well. She is terrified of the dog. She has never felt grass on those dainty paws of hers and she has never seen a squirrel up close. Pigeons a plenty but not much else. Much of the last week has seen Rosa hiding under the bed away from our family, Mr’s extended family but most importantly the dog. This is Rosa’s first encounter with a dog and while Frankie is a typical big, dumb dog with her tongue hanging out and nose sniffing around, Rosa is frightened. She saw a number of these smelly creatures from the safety of our balcony but now there is one invading her space and she doesn’t like it.

Today, I picked up Rosa, carried her outside and plopped her on the deck. She was okay with it and stayed on the railing for most of the day. Or so I thought.

It turns out she was intrigued enough by the sounds of other animals and the rustling of leaves to venture down the back steps of the deck. It was there that those dainty paws touched grass for the first time in all her feline years, that cat felt earth on the pads of her feet. She froze and looked frightened but she stayed out there. I had to entice her back inside with a persistent shake of her bag of Friskies. This was after dark, when the streetlights were on and the squirrels had gone to bed.

Not to be overly sappy about my cat but there is a lot we can all learn from Rosa’s adventures. It’s frightening, unnerving and chew your fingernails off scary sometimes to venture into the world and take part in something new. But, sometimes you get to kill a squirrel or see a butterfly up close and just be in a new space. We could all learn from Rosa, take it slow, follow the fearless darting thing and be brave and dig our toes into a spread of fresh grass. In the end, someone will be there to hold us and feed us, it’s about giving them (and ourselves) the space to do it.

To Rosa. And chasing after the squirrel.

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