After the Family Broke

This was our pretty gray kitten,
hence her name; who was born
in our garage and stayed nearby
her whole life. There were allergies;
so she was, as they say,
an outside cat.
But she loved us. For years,
she was at our window.
Sometimes, a paw on the screen
as if to want in, as if
to be with us
the best she could.
She would be on the deck,
at the sliding door.
She would be on the small
sill of the window in the bathroom.
She would be at the kitchen
window above the sink.
We’d go to the living room;
anticipating that she’d be there, too,
hop up, look in.
She’d be on the roof,
she’d be in a nearby tree.
She’d be listening
through the wall to our family life.
She knew where we were,
and she knew where we were going
and would meet us there.
Little spark of consciousness,
calm kitty eyes staring
through the window.

After the family broke,
and when the house was about to sell,
I walked around it for a last look.
Under the eaves, on the ground,
there was a path worn in the dirt,
tight against the foundation —
small padded feet, year after year,
window to window.

When we moved, we left her
to be fed by the people next door.
Months after we were gone,
they found her in the bushes
and buried her by the fence.
So many years after,
I can’t get her out of my mind.

~Philip F. Deaver, “Gray” from How Men Pray

Our pets are witness to the routine of our lives. They know when the food bowl remains empty too long, or when no one comes to pick them up and stroke their fur. They sit silently waiting.

They know when things aren’t right at home.

Sometimes a barn cat moves on, looking for a place with more consistency and better feeding grounds. Most often they stick close to what they know, even if it isn’t entirely a happy or welcoming place. After all, it’s home and that’s what they know and that’s where they stay.

When my family broke as my parents split, after the furniture was removed and the dust of over thirty five years of marriage swept up, I wondered if our cat and dog had seen it coming before we did. They had been peering through the window at our lives, measuring the amount of spilled love that was left over for them.

I can’t get them out of my mind – they, like me, became children of divorce. We knew when we left the only home we knew, we would never truly feel at home again.

3 thoughts on “After the Family Broke

  1. I have three indoor cats and take care of two outdoor cats who appeared at my door 3-4 years ago. They wander in and out of my garage, where it is their safe spot, or outdoors for a breath of fresh air and adventure. Always when I go outside, I hear a little ‘meow.’ They want me to know that they are still here.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The kind of ‘death’ metaphorically implied here is much too common among today’s society. And it IS a death in every sense of the word and meaning.
    Its tragic ripples do not cease readily. They can b e seen (and felt) for years after the break among the survivors – the victim(s) and all who suffer its effects.
    Mr. Deaver’s and your own still-painful recollection, Emily, brought a sadness to my heart….

    Peace, love….

    Liked by 2 people

  3. These two stories make me want to cry. We just never Know the hurt & sorrow that folks carry in their hearts. God bless you in the wonderful life you have now. Thank you for the beautiful photos & lovely writings you share! I feel like they’re gifts to all of us!!!❤️

    Liked by 2 people

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