Waiting for the sun to come home

IMG_0942I’m fine, but I feel sorry for the cat. That’s what I tell myself. It’s a lie, although I do feel bad for the cat. He misses the Dude, too. It’s okay, I tell him, as if he could understand me. It’s only college, he’ll be back in November.

The cat leaps onto the kitchen table each morning when he hears the bus, ready to watch the boy make his way to the bus stop. He waits, still and silent until the bus pulls away. Old habits are hard to break. When he doesn’t hear thunder from upstairs he gives up and dashes off like he has somewhere to go. I do the same.

The cat knows something has changed. The door to the boy’s room has been open for days. The room is clean. The bed is empty. The scene stops me every time I pass his doorway on the way to my own. I’m not used to seeing the floor.

He whiles the hours, my furry sundial, tracing the patch of sunlight across the living room floor, waiting for the arrival of the brightest light of them all. At the end of his travels, however, he finds my feet. I’m waiting as well. Old habits are hard to break.

He perks to hear the bus again, ears tipped forward to catch the sound of his sneakers. Surely today the boy, his boy will burst through the door and drop his backpack to the floor. He ducks behind my legs, waiting until the shoes fly across the room to run to his side, when the boy would hoist him into the air, just like the Lion King. I know the cat hates the gesture, and misses it at the same time, just like I miss having my son tuck me under his chin to show me how tall he is.

I pat my lap, and the cat takes his time getting there, making a circle from the arm of the sofa, around the back, to my side and finally settles in. I give his head a rub and he purrs.

I share all the advice I’ve gotten, just in case it’s useful. “Travel. Explore,” I tell him. “The house has sunny spots you haven’t even seen yet, and hidey holes for days. Just come out for meals, okay?” He gives me a slow blink. “Work on your relationship with the other cat.” I’m not sure how that will work, since they alternate between curling up, yin/yang style and depositing tufts of angry fur on my newly vacuumed carpet.

Or perhaps we’ll stay here and chase the sun across the map until it comes back home again. November isn’t that far away.

13 comments on “Waiting for the sun to come home

  1. Gail Kushner says:

    This is beautifully written. Very melancholy. You, and the cat, will find your way.

    Focus on your life and what you plan to accomplish.

  2. whimsygizmo says:

    This is brilliant. Chills. And premature tears. Mine are 12 and 13. Sending hugs. And catnip.

  3. aviets says:

    Oh, my. I’ve lived these moments. Even though it’s been two years since our youngest flew off to college, the memory of that grief is still fresh. And even now, when according to the rest of the world I should have moved on, I still have days when it’s just hard. And sad. Thinking of you.

    • It’s strange, the things I miss–seeing him sprawled across the sofa, or asleep with the cat, or hoovering a bowl of ice cream while watching the game. But his life is his own niw

      • aviets says:

        I know what you mean – it’s those little things that stick out in your mind and creep up on you. I miss the constant singing and his jumping down all the stairs at once rather than one at a time like a normal person. Sigh.

  4. mgb says:

    Lovely. Poignant. Rings so true….A glimpse of next fall for me. you’ll have to keep us updated for how this evolves — please! Hey, at least you aren’t writing about him home with severe mono and missing his first semester of college!

  5. Awwww, I love this post! Next year, my oldest will leave for college and I fear my little dog will mourn it like a death. I will celebrate. The dog will mourn. Three years later, my youngest will leave for college and I will mourn it like a death. Interesting point in life to go through. Love the picture of the cat, too. Glad I stopped in for a read today.

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