It’s hard to accept absence as loss. There is no way to mark the grief of the inexplicable. You seek multiple explanations and none satisfies, or offers true relief.
You can bury a squashed cat or one that doesn’t come back from the vet. You can cry and move on.
But a cat that just disappears, leaving no hint or trace, stays curled up like a knot.
Thomas disappeared five and half weeks ago. The girls have wandered the neighbourhood and left notices in letter boxes. The have lit candles in the window each night to guide him home. We have all been a bit scratchy, unable to grieve.
At first, I told the girls that he may have found a nice old lady, who would give him too much food whenever he squawked. They liked that.
Once he was gone a month, the tears started. Hope was gone. We decided that we needed a wee ceremony, to bid him farewell. But when?
This weekend, we stayed with good friends out of town. They have dogs and a cat, pigs, sheep and chooks. I had intended to bring our huge bag of cat food that sat in the cupboard, waiting for Thomas to return.
I remembered it when Polly, their fluffy cat, rubbed against me. That led to talk of Thomas. Theories of what happened. Bad dogs. Bad kids. A fast car slept in to far-far away.
I repeated my theory that he hadn’t been well for weeks. The exceptionally hot summer had hit him hard, he constantly complained, unable to settle; had begun to look like a crooked old cat.
From the start, I believed that he had crawled under a bush and gone to sleep, searching for peace from whatever ailment was going on inside.
This morning, five and a half weeks after he vanished, the unimaginable happened. Thomas emerged from a bush, unable to shut-up, squawking and loud, ready to take command of the house once more. I filled his bowl with the biscuits I forgot to re-gift and he gobbled them between screaming meows.
It is unbelievable. I am so glad we didn’t say good-bye.