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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Small Things

Bailey, my first cat, died over a year ago.

He was scared of almost everything, it seemed, and so I often said he was more chicken than cat. Strangers coming over sent him to hide under the bed, as did the vacuum monster (our "special" name for the vacuum cleaner). Thunder meant he would hide under the ugly pink chair. Helium-filled balloons? Well, we don't talk about the floating monsters any more. Let's just say they were not allowed in my house--ever--after the first time he saw them. And then there was the Christmas wreath on the back of the front door. He refused to come into the living room for a month, after that one. I'm not sure what he was hiding from in the picture above (maybe bubbles being blown in the house?), but apparently he thought that the bathroom cabinet was the safest place. Especially since he would blend in with the towels and all. I'm sure you don't see him there, so clearly the monster/invader/bubbles couldn't find him either.

And if any of these things came for him in his chosen hiding spot? He would dash past me to get behind the washer and dryer so fast, I almost didn't see him. The first time he did that one, I couldn't find him for hours. When I finally coaxed him out, he was covered in dust bunnies and sneezing.

But Bailey was not afraid of me. He was my sweetheart. My snuggle buddy. My constant companion.

We'd sit in my favorite chair, him on my lap, and he'd knead his paws (we called it "making biscuits") against me purring so hard I thought my voice would tremble from his constant vibrations. This had to happen several times a day. After all, there were lots of biscuits to be made.

If I tried to read a book in bed, Bailey would have none of that. He would pace back and forth between me and my book, effectively blocking my ability to see the words on the page. I often told him he made a better door than a window. He didn't quite take the hint. The whole time he was pacing, he would purr and shove his head into my hands, begging me for the attention that I was instead trying to give to the book. It worked. Every time. I'd start petting him, and he'd eventually curl up on my pillow, forcing me to use him as a pillow if I wanted something under my head. If I stopped petting him in order to turn the page, we'd be back to the pacing. This could go on for hours.

Why am I talking about all of this?

Because the other night, Kiki did exactly the same thing.

I was lying in bed, reading a book, when she decided she wanted my attention. She got up between me and my book, purring as loud as a motorcycle, and pacing back and forth, shoving her head into my hands. I got a good chuckle out of that one, and shoved her away so I could keep reading.

But she came right back. More insistently, this time. Kiki would not be deterred.

And then, just when I'd finally resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to pet her and forget about my book for a while, she plopped down.

On my pillow. (Stretched out like you see her to the right.)

Just like Bailey would have done.

I started crying almost instantaneously. Blubbering like an idiot, actually.

She looked up at me with the same expression he would have had, absolutely sweet and loving and adorable. She doesn't take up as much space on the pillow as he did--Kiki's only about 1/3 the size of Bailey. But she still stretched out all over it so far that, if I wanted to have a pillow, I would have to lay my head on her.

I did.

And she let me. She purred even louder when I laid my head on her.

We stayed like that for quite a while, until my tears stopped and I could function like a normal human being again. Then I read some more, petting her constantly, and going through the ritual of her pacing and shoving her head into my hands each time I had to reach up to turn the page.

I read longer that night than I intended to--longer than I usually do before bed--because I didn't want it to end.

Because, for that brief moment in time, I had my Bailey Boo back. My snuggle buddy. My cuddler. My first cat.

I don't know if Kiki will ever do that again. If she does, I'll be ready for it. I'll know to enjoy it, to savor it. To be thankful for it.

It really is just the little things, sometimes. A cat stealing a pillow. A phone call at just the right moment. The perfect cup of coffee. A piece of dark chocolate with sea salt. The Nephew Monster turning to me with his best this-is-serious-business face and asking "'Ere's Buzz? 'Ere's Woody?" like I am supposed to be able to magically conjure Buzz Lightyear and Woody out of thin air right at that moment.

I need to find ways of putting more of this into my writing. These are the moments we love. These are the moments we live for.

What are the small moments that you love?


  1. That was lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Catherine, just keep doing what you're doing with the writing because you made me cry.

    My Bart does the same thing with my daughter although he often curls up ON her book. We joked that he earned that A in Art History along with her because he plopped himself on the book whenever she was studying.

    I agree with you about the small moments. I actually started a file a few weeks ago that I called my small moments file (original, I know ;) specifically to focus on just that type of scene that I wanted to be sure to include. I think those are the scenes that make a reader remember a book with fondness.

    I'm so sorry you lost your Bailey, but Kiki is sure lucky to have you.

  3. Aww, such a sweet story :) My favorite is when I am writing, and my black lab mutt, Maggie, ambles down into the basement (not her favorite place) and stretches out beneath my desk to lay at my feet. I love that she is willing to keep me company down there, even when the area makes her uncomfortable.

    I do wish, however, she wasn't so trusting that I won't move my rolling chair an inch. Somehow, she always situates herself so her ear is less than an inch from the wheel - ack!

  4. Sarah, thanks for stopping by.

    Mary, I'm sorry I made you cry! My other cat, Nikki, has learned countless subjects through laying down on my textbooks while I'm trying to study. Particularly linguistics and Spanish. Maybe she'll be a bilingual cat? (Or would it be trilingual?)

    Erin, one of my cats curls up on my feet, too. I hate to say it, but I've rolled over ears and tails more times than I can count, but she just won't stop laying there. It's sweet that Maggie wants to be with you.

  5. Every day is filled with small moments that make life special. I'm more inclined to stop and pay attention now than I've ever been.

    Two days ago there was the most beautiful cloud with the sun's rays shooting through it. In the past, I probably would have given it a glance and thought, "Wow. That's neat." Now I savor these things and notice the little details. I think that's what writing has done for me.

  6. That was a wonderful story. I'm always amazed at how memories are triggered, and how they connect us to present-day moments that we need to treasure, instead of blasting through the To Do list.

    Today the wind is blowing in a certain way that reminds me of being a kid, laying outside on a blanket, enthralled with a book (Gone with the Wind, I think) -- one of those moments when life seemed about as perfect as it could get. And now it feels that way again. :)


  7. That was sweet. Almost brought a tear to my eye. I love the small moments and Samatha I think alot has to do with age as well as writing. The older I get the more I wish things would slow down so I CAN enjoy the small moments.

    My eldist son just turned eighteen and you know we walked into the store and he still holds my hand like he did when he was two. Those are the moments I cling to. Because they are so fleeting but so precious because they are so fleeting. Great post Catherine. I think I'm going to sit on my porch this morning and enjoy some sunshine. =)

  8. Samantha, I'm a lot more observant of things than I used to be too. In some ways I feel like I'm regressing to my childhood, but in other ways I think its all progress.

    Donna, I love how simple things like the way the wind is blowing can take us back to other points in time. Definitely enjoy it!

    Melissa, go sit on your porch! I love that your son will still hold your hand. I'm hoping that my nephew will never outgrow certain things, but I'm trying to resign myself to the fact that he will and enjoy them while I can.

  9. What a beautiful piece. So lovely.

  10. Sniff, sniff. Dang it woman!

    The moments I live for...when I catch my husband staring at me, and he has the cutest smile on his face...when I see my daughter excited about a new character in a book, how her eyes light up...

    These are my moments.