I've written before about my cat Betsy - indeed she had her own journal for a while. She was with me for 21 years. That's a lifetime, you could say.
She died last December and I still miss her.
You know how it is. Sometimes you see a flash of grey-brown in the garden and your brain in its instinctive wisdom goes, 'It's Betsy-cat' and then it rationalises, 'No, she's dead - that's a young blackbird you're seeing.'
Or you'll be sitting watching TV at night and you'll hear what sounds like a plaintive meow from the front door. That would've been Betsy wanting to come inside. Maybe some feet pitter-pattering on the tin roof. Betsy loved going up there to enjoy the expansive view and moonlight.
It's been said that our deceased loved ones visit us in dreams. This is when they can drop in and say hi, let us know they're doing OK. I am not sure about this but I do know I've dreamt about Mom lots of times and I nearly always wake up feeling reassured but in pain because I miss her so much.
Despite the pain, there's a knowledge that she is fine, enjoying wherever she is, probably hanging out with her old friends over gin and tonics. Now, I don't mean any disrespect here but imagining her in this way brings me comfort. Sometimes I see her as the woman she was before Parkinson's stole so much from her - vibrant, funny, always a smile - and at other times she is debilitated and a bit wobbly but she is unfailingly happy and often, in these dreams, I am taking her shopping, something she and I loved to do together.
Last night I had a dream about Betsy-cat. In the many months since her death, I've thought of her a million times but she hasn't come to me in my dreams.
In this dream I was walking up the driveway and she was lying on the warm brick steps, enjoying the sun as she loved to do. In the dream, I was so astonished to see her (because I knew she had passed away) that I exclaimed, 'Betsy! I'm so pleased to see you!' and she lifted her head in that relaxed way she had, as if to say, 'Oh, it's you, OK' and then she got up and came towards me. 'Hello sweetheart,' I said as I gave her some loving pats and tickles around her ears.
Then, once again as was her habit, she allowed this affection for just so long and then turned away to return to her warm spot on the brick steps. By this time in my dream, I was crying, saying 'I miss you Betsy...'.
I woke up then to find I hadn't shed any real tears on my pillow but my throat was thick with them.
Was Betsy telling me she was OK, lounging about in the warmth of wherever she is, letting me know all was well?
I don't know. What I do know is I miss my old mate. We had a great run together - 21 years is a long time and what a gift it was to have her for so long - and even though she's no longer hanging out in the garden or on the roof, she'll always reside in my heart, my special Betsy-girl mate.