25 February, 2017

Memories of Bast

I knew it was love when she acted embarrassed for shitting on my leg. Little Bast hid in the closet for nearly an hour after that, impossible to cajole out even with canned tuna. It wasn't her fault she came from the shelter with an upper-respiratory infection and lower-intestinal parasite. Our first few weeks together, every time she sneezed — well I spare you the details. This affectionate six-month kitten was no less adorable for having a minor soiling issue. Even then, I could tell that she was the perfect cat for me.

Bast quickly learned that I sleep like a corpse, and took to sphinx-posing overnight in the furrow between my legs. (Fitting, since I named her after a gentle cat-goddess of ancient Egypt.) Often she was still there when I woke up. If not, no matter; we always met in the kitchen for coffee, kibble, and a brief chat. "Morning," I'd say. "Mrrrow," she'd reply.

She always met me at the door with that aloof gaze, chest puffed imperiously, but I knew she'd been sitting there for a while, awaiting my return from work. The whole thing was an act; my absences weren't actually held against me. She'd soon enough be perched on my lap, playing predator with the cursor on my computer monitor until I persuaded her to stow the killer instinct in favor of behind-the-ear rubs and — her favorite — under the chin nuzzles. We'd have been satisfied to sit like that for hours at a go, Bast's was the softest fur of any animal I've had the delight to pet.

After my abduction, Bast got another excellent, loving, attentive home with my godmother, Judy. Photos and regular updates on my velvety little darling (and she was always that — my cat — no matter how long we'd been apart) came in the mail like a time-lapse film of Bast's sleek black coat turning brown and discomposed. Increasingly, my knee hurt and her back legs wobbled. She needed shots every month, for a recently developed disorder. I took daily pills for chronic heartburn. Our bodies were betraying us. I wondered so many times whether or not she'd remember me if I got out of prison today. Those bittersweet reminders of passing time, of mortality. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss her terribly.

Judy wrote last week. My little Bast, at nineteen, has finally died. In truth, I'd been waiting to hear this for so many years, worrying how it might hit me when word came, that its sting was absent. There's only this fat, dull ache in my throat, this warm pressure behind my eyes. I remind myself that it's better to be a degree removed from grief, separated, like this, by time and physical distance, but memories and the foiled daydream allure of could-have-been adds back what detachment takes away. Grief's toll is always paid somehow.

2 comments:

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  2. So so sorry to hear about Bast. That was heart breaking to read. You are in my thoughts!

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