I’m sitting here listening to some lofi hip hop music as I walk around my home in fuzzy socks. The day is cool the air is crisp. I have just finished up cleaning up my kitchen. These past few days I’ve been busy cooking and making homemade meals for my son and I. My son is away for the afternoon spending time with a friend to study. I love it when my son still asks me for inspiration for projects. Recently, he needed an idea for a restaurant for his business class and I suggested a tea room. I spoke about how he used to go with his grandmother and I to several in New Jersey and what he remembered from them. My son and I had a good discussion of the menu, decor and space. After a day he came back with a power point page with an impressive future project.
I grab a jacket and open my front door to go outside. I wonder if I got mail from yesterday. I’m barely stepping down on my front step when I almost crush my neighbor’s cat. There’s that cat again!
“Well, hello there!”, I say as I smile and clutch my jacket closer to me. The cat just meows and starts to twist its body against my leg and looks up at me with its big eyes.
“Of course, you’d make your visit more often this month…How have you been? Do you want milk? Where’s your mama?” I pick up the cat, give it a gentle hug and put it down again and walk towards my mailbox. Usually the cat follows me to my short walk to the mailbox, but not today. I glance back and the cat is licking itself and decides to lay on the top step as it continues to watch me. A stack of bills and advertisements lay waiting for me in my mailbox.
As I head towards my door, my neighbor crosses the yard. She is a tall, thick woman with curly brown hair. Her cheeks are flushed and she is a little out of breath. She stops and puts her hands to her hips as she scans the yard with her big brown eyes. Her eyes squint and suddenly stop at a particular feline laying there on my front step basking in the sun. The cat’s eyes are closed as it takes in the warmth of the sun. The cat does not care who is looking for it.
Welcome to my life. My neighbor is comfort and her cat is grief.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! Grief keeps escaping. I try to keep him inside, but he always escapes. He really likes you.” My neighbor feels embarrassed, but I love my neighbor. She’s been so sweet over the course of the years in so many situations, something as small as her cat escaping to visit me isn’t a huge deal. I’ve learned to deal with it. Her cat, grief, is a few years old now. The cat suddenly noticing its owner is nearby, gets up and hunches its back and lets out a long yawn.
“No worries. Do come in and have some tea.” I hold open the door for her. Comfort picks up her cat and walks in. Grief quietly lets out an escaped meow of being disturbed from basking in the afternoon sun. I fill up a pot with water to start heating up and we sit down.
“How have you been? It’s November. I know this month is always hard for you.”
“I’ve been ok. Five years now. A lot has happened in 5 years,’ I answer as I get out 2 teacups and put them on the counter. Grief is kneading its paws on top of my sofa before settling down and listening to our conversation.
“And this little guy loves to come over. We hang out. I don’t have any pets so it’s nice to have him over. Remember, five years ago when you first brought him over to show me him? He was so tiny and delicate. He was so fragile. We just stared at him and wondered what he’d be like as he got older. Then when he was about 2 years old, he was all over the place. Sporadic cat he was! I had to try different things to try to distract him or to keep him calm, but it’s just the process of his growth, you know? You have to adapt.”
“You’re a lot calmer now, aren’t you?” I say in a slight baby tone as I pet grief’s head. I feel the vibrations of contentment coming from the cat’s body.
“I’m glad you’re doing fine. I remember grief was born the day your mom passed away.”
“Yes. Bittersweet day. Death and life. At first, having grief come over a lot was a constant reminder of my mom. I’d see your cat staring in at me from outside on my window wanting to come in. Being so busy, I’d let your cat stay outside because I couldn’t deal with him at the time. As time passed on, I made time to pet your cat and bond with him. Over time, your cat and I had an unspoken deal of communication. Seeing your cat didn’t bother me as much and I didn’t feel guilty for ignoring your cat. I’ve learned that when you make time to bond with things, it changes your perspective over time. It can be beautiful.”
I finish up making tea for two and hand my neighbor her cup. My neighbor takes a sip and looks at me.
“I love our tea time together. I’m glad we’ve been doing this lately. Thanks for inviting me in.”
“My pleasure. I love having you over. You mentioned that November is a hard month for me. It was at first. Especially the first year. I’ve learned to enjoy Thanksgiving and not remember it as the day my life changed. I celebrate my mom’s life all year long, not just the day she passed away. I’ve learned to appreciate and be thankful on Thanksgiving day for the things I do have. I really want it to be a day for having fun, relaxing, cooking and spending time with my son. My mom would’ve wanted it that way. One day, if I’m lucky, I’ll get a new family and spend it with them.”
The sun is setting and it’s getting darker outside. The music continues to fill the room with its lofi beats as a backdrop as shadows begin to grow outside. I live on a hill so I begin to see the twinkling lights of the homes as they welcome in the night. My neighbor and I talk and laugh about things happening in our lives late into the evening.
Before I know it, I’m laying in bed under my comforter reading a book. I place the book on my nightstand and reach up to turn off my light. It was another good day. With everything going on right now, everything’s going to be alright.