come back home
Back in January of–I want to say–2009 (?)–I packed up all the things that fit in my old studio down the street and carried it down to a U-Haul. I had decided that I didn’t have enough stuff to require movers (HA!)–that I could do it all by myself. I remember it was snowing, and I had to go all the way out to freakin Aurora to get the van. And it was massive. And I thought for sure I was gonna side-swipe someone because I wasn’t used to such a massive van. It didn’t fit in our garage, so I had to park it on the street–and the only spot that was open was the delivery spot where no one was supposed to park. And I was just utterly exhausted.
The van didn’t fit in my new garage down the block either. I was moving such a ridiculously short distance that I felt like it would be more efficient to just grab a dolly and move each thing, piece by piece.
It was all a nightmare. That first night, I dropped a box of books–because I had stupidly packed far too many in one large box–and dropped it on my foot. My toe nail fell off the next day. That night, I couldn’t find parking by my new place and had to park four blocks away–with a full van–and I just knew I had to fold and admit I needed help. So, I hired men. Twice. The first day’s men sucked and took all day to move half of what I did alone. The last day, I lucked out and got people who finished the rest in 30 minutes. I really should have kept their card.
I remember, that first night, trying to set up my bed in a pitch dark bedroom. This apartment was quirky and didn’t have a light in the bedroom. None. I had only a couple lamps. And they were locked up in the van.
I finally got my bed together and found some twinkle lights from an old Christmas box of my mother’s. I examined my body. I was one big bruise. All purple. I felt like I’d been beaten.
Worst move ever.
It wasn’t all bad, though.
I remember getting my keys and chatting with our manager. She’s a cheerful lady with a vaguely German accent. I liked her immediately. I remember walking through our elegant lobby, past the pool, and climbing the stairs to my floor. And taking pictures of the balcony and the giant closets and the pantry. And sitting down–thinking–“alright, this is home.”
I remember Cleo, rolling around every carpeted surface in this apartment–incredibly happy to be here. It was kitty paradise. Floors to skate on and soft fuzzies everywhere. A big balcony where she could watch everything–especially the two lovebirds that decided the landing was theirs.
I spent so many evenings just like this one, watching her roll around the carpet, and playing with her as I read a book or watched some TV show. Every inch of this apartment is probably covered with some amount of her soft fur. Gross, but true.
At the beginning of this month, Cleo left this apartment for the last time.
She never rolled on the carpet one last time or said goodbye to her brother and sister.
We rushed her out as she seized quietly in her kennel. It was morning, and it was probably the quietest she’d ever been when leaving the apartment.
Today, we brought her back home. In a small wooden rectangle. They gave us some memorial poems and an imprint of her paw and a lock of her hair.
It was her fur that got me–stuck in my throat and connected me with that wail I lost the day she died.
I miss petting her most of all. Reaching up in the middle of the night to feel her warm, soft belly. A scratch, bite, or kiss often accompanied these interactions. I miss her growly sweetness.
So, I had to open the bag and touch it again. I had to smell it. It sorta smelled like her, but I was grasping.
We had our cats sniff the fur–our way of helping them realize she died…perhaps, they could smell it on her fur. They seemed to, though Rilly didn’t really understand. He just wanted to love on it. Fogg seemed sad and then tried to comfort me, in typical Fogg manner–by caressing my face as I cried.
I told her Cleo finally came back home.
I didn’t want the box in my room. Couldn’t stand the idea of it in here. I knew this would be the case.
So, she’s in the living room–next to the wine–with her friend, Rudy the Reindeer. He liked to travel, too.
I found myself wishing the box was soft so I could hug it. And now, I don’t know how I feel about scattering her ashes. Maybe I’ll put her in my meditation nook eventually.
I still miss her every day, but I’m glad some part of her is back home.