My cat has developed a new routine. Yes, she still sleeps with me, curled in the crook of my arm so she can take full advantage of my body heat and a free hand to methodically stroke her until she drifts off to sleep on a cloud of kitty ecstasy. I know this because, in return, I get to fall asleep to her rhythmic purring. She sneaks away some time in the night to do whatever it is that cats do in the middle of the night (no doubt up to no good. As most adults will attest, nothing good happens after midnight.) She comes back around 5:30 am, before the alarm goes off, which she is not a fan of, to check up on me and get in some last minute loving. Normally she just barges in, leaping onto the bed with gymnastic-quality aplomb and then sauntering about, on the bed and on me, until I wake up. As of late she has adopted a new tactic. She leaps onto the bed (same gymnastic-quality aplomb), then makes her way carefully to my head and sits down to study me for a while.
There is something about the feline gaze, the laser focus of intent in their eyes can effortlessly reach into the depths of your brain and soul and will you awake. It is as if they have reached into your brain and flicked your on switch. It’s not a jarring awakening, at least not for me, but rather a sudden realization that I’ve been summoned. Then, once I’m awake, she places one velvety paw on my shoulder as if to say, it will be alright.
One velvety paw. There is so much packed into that simple gesture, yet I really have no clue what she is trying to tell me. I did turn to the internet and a quick search revealed that touching with a paw is a sign of affection for cats. Then again, so is head butting. It feels like a kitty catch-all to me; if your cat isn’t pissed off, it must be affection. No, I think it’s something else, I’m just not sure what.
And so it is with relationships. When two people speak the same language it is complicated; when you speak different languages and one of you is a cat, the difficult-0-meter goes off the charts. Imagine, though, a relationship where logically you should both be perfectly in sync, yet for the most part you are nearly always clueless. And so it is with me and my body. I think I know what’s going on, what will inch me back to peak health and what will send me astray, but I really don’t. What worked before cancer doesn’t work now, and foods I would never have considered eating before are main staples now. Its all catywampus. I can’t help but frown at how foreign my own body is to me, what makes it tick, sends it off kilter. The reality, though, is we live in an ecosystem (our body) that exists in an ecosystem (the earth) that resides in the universe, and anywhere in all that something can happen to throw all the rest off kilter and change the rules. I mean really change the rules.
And so it goes. Breast cancer was a game changer; two bouts of flu (albeit mild ones) in as many months is also a game changer. The paradigm I once lived in is gone. It died a slow, agonizing, horrible death (okay, I was depressed for half a day). Things change, and so I must continue to change with them. Like the proverbial tree in the wind, I must learn to bend (even more) and sway (even more) as each new challenge presents itself, leaving whatever bag of tricks and home-spun users guide I was using behind in favor of fresh ideas and a new normal.
Ah, I sound tired even to myself. Maybe it is post-flu malaise. One velvety paw; sometimes that is all we need. One brief touch of reassurance. Cats are rarely wrong, at least not my cat, and this time I’m sure she is right. It will be alright. It will continue to be an adventure, for sure, but it will definitely be alright.