I started a new job Monday after being laid off from my last one.
That night, I had to write this column to make my deadline.
But I was having a hard time concentrating on any of it.
All I could think about was my cat.
We got her when my kids were 9 and 12. They're now 24 and 27 and on their own.
The cat came to us by way of Marta, who works at the Record-Eagle and is one of those people put on this Earth to look out for animals.
Marta had found the kitten abandoned in a box at the airport, but knew her dog, another rescue, would eat the tiny creature for lunch. Our cat had recently died — that one was 18 — and Marta was sure we were ready for another.
I wasn't convinced, but agreed to visit. The kitten was in a spacious cage at the home of Marta's mother, who was another champion of animals.
Well, of course we fell in love with the little fuzzy, calico mix purring in our arms, and brought her home. While she loved all of us, she and I became particularly connected over the years. And I was the only one to let her lick my arms — a need she had and never lost that I attributed to being abandoned so young.
And then two weeks ago, she got sick.
Now, for the past 2﻿½ years, I have been working downstate and coming home most weekends. The cat stayed here. I felt it was better for her to remain in the home she knew. And she was always catatonic in the car.
But I missed her. And she missed me. At home, if I was sitting, she was in my lap. If I was asleep, she was next to me. Meanwhile, I felt guilty to be missing so much time with her.
So after spending last weekend willing her to eat and putting bowls of various liquids and dishes of different foods all over the house, and forcing antibiotics and laxative the vet had prescribed into her mouth, I had to leave Sunday night to go to Grand Rapids and start my new job.
It killed me to go. She wasn't making the progress the vet said she needed to.
On Tuesday, I raced back here in time to hold her before surgery. Turned out there was a tumor, which would mean a lot of stuff ahead, none of it good. On her behalf, I declined.
Back home, we buried her on the edge of the yard, in the line of vision she knew from her regular perch atop a chair in the picture window. In the house after, it felt cold. Empty. Like the soul had gone out of it.
I think it did.
Kathy Gibbons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.