To Harrison Grace, the most human feline.
The first time we met,
You were sitting in a box.
As you well should have been.
But I lifted you out,
Cradled you in my arms,
And promised you I’d never make you feel that way
For as long as we lived.
That was ten years ago.
I was a young girl,
And you were quite young, too.
It was December
And we spent Christmas acquainting.
I learned you loved Christmas trees,
And playing hide-and-seek
You didn’t like strangers.
I didn’t, either.
So I would hide with you,
So you wouldn’t get lonely.
And we’d keep each other warm,
Those cold December nights.
You fell ill with a cough
You got from your old home,
And I devoted myself
To becoming your nurse.
I nestled you in bed,
And wiped your nose when you’d sneeze.
I gave you your medicine,
Which you hated;
Forcing you to stay still,
And not squirm,
As I injected the pink serum into your throat.
You would cry,
Run away in terror,
And I wouldn’t see you for a long time,
As you were angry with me
For betraying your trust.
But I needed to keep you healthy
So you could live your short life
Without your miserable little cough
Haunting you for years.
You forgave me in time,
And you recovered sublimely.
And it was soon back to hide-and-seek
And playing with your little toys
Like it had always been before.
And we attached to each other
We liked being alone,
We didn’t like others helping us,
We liked the quiet,
And the comfort of a book,
And a warm blanket.
We weren’t outdoorsy types…
Well, I stopped being one,
So you wouldn’t be lonely
And so we could cuddle under our blanket
And watch fluffy pets on Animal Planet
While you told me how they all looked familiar to you.
And all those times
The yearly doctor’s appointments beckoned
I would curse the day
I had to drag you outside
In the car
Listening to your crying on the way to the office,
The sun beating into your eyes,
The outside air making you feel trapped,
As you feared the foreign hands that would probe you
That weren’t mine.
But just like always,
We would return to our hovel,
And make a fort
To hide away from the world
That terrified us both.
You got stronger over the years
And could do many things for yourself
That I didn’t have to do for you anymore.
Your legs and arms grew,
Your body became muscular,
Your wits sharpened.
You spent many years at your peak,
Top of the pack,
Ready for the pounce
If the pounce needed readying.
But as your limbs grew,
As your body gained muscle,
Mine lost some.
And as your wits sharpened,
Mine grew hazy
You would come to my door,
And call out my name,
And receive no response
As I would lay in my bed,
Ashamed for you
To see me
In the state I was in.
Too long we went without cuddling.
You resorted to other arms to hold you,
Other hands to stroke your hair,
Other blankets to keep you warm
As I took all those things from you
Without your permission;
Only my own.
But you still came to my door
Planted yourself firmly outside,
A Furry Sentinel,
Hoping for a change.
An unbreakable devotion,
An eternal comrade.
It wasn’t too long until we were officially separated,
You secured in our house,
I summoned to the asylum.
And we were suddenly housed
Under two different buildings
In two different neighborhoods
In two different states.
The hospital room was a new kind of gray
That wasn’t the same darkness
You and I wrapped ourselves in together
In our blanket forts.
It was a gray that resembled a loss of life
And it only reminded me of the gray that was surrounding you
Two buildings, two neighborhoods, and two states away.
My conditioned worsened without you near me
I stopped fighting for my life
Like you fought for yours
When we first met.
And then I looked at the door to my room
And I saw you
In the doctor’s arms
Being carried to me,
Plopped onto my bed;
You, in your majestic beauty
And your shiny green eyes
That I never saw as anything short of immaculate.
And you stayed with me for the long-term,
Never leaving my bed,
Curling back into my brittle arms,
Rubbing your face against mine,
Looking at me with your big eyes
Assuring me all was well,
That you were here,
That you would at least fight for my life.
You stood vigil at my bedside
You made sure I got my medicine
And my exercise.
You made sure I ate,
And when I didn’t,
You would scold me,
And I would do as you told me.
The hospital room grew so much less gray
When you pranced in.
But even that reduction of gray
Even your saving presence
Couldn’t save me.
I was selfish.
I terminated our friendship
Without your consent;
All out of fear
That you and I sheltered ourselves from anyway.
My heart monitor flattened one cold December morning,
Like a piercing scream to your ears
And you planted yourself in between my legs,
Curled in a ball,
And never left that spot.
Patients they brought in afterwards
Would have to find another room
For you wouldn’t budge
Even after my body became the earth.
They never changed the bed sheets
Because you wanted my smell on them
To surround you with.
You would growl
And stab anyone who tried to move you.
They eventually closed the room to the public
Because the bed
Was the closest thing you had to me.
Who spent so long making sure you were okay,
That I forgot about the other body I had to monitor.
The one that only you seemed to care enough about;
My little guardian,
I can never say sorry enough,
So until you join me
I will be your big guardian
Who will keep you warm
On those cold December Nights.