Friday, December 02, 2011


Mom's here, so I know it's a dream.  Still, I follow her as we go wherever it is we're going.  She moves quickly and without a walker through masses of people standing around or sitting at cheap tables--Is this Ryan's Steakhouse?--until we find a place in a corner.  "Finally," she says, sitting down.  "We have a few minutes to talk."

My eyes snap open.  Again.

I don't believe in messages from the other side or crap like that, but it's become a disturbing pattern that Mom will appear to me in dreams, announcing she has something to tell me, and I wake up before she gets a chance to talk.  It's the same every damn time, and the return to the waking world always comes with a tightness in my chest, a sense of loss so overpowering it seems nothing could heal it.

Right on cue, Staley appears. 

When she first came into my life, Staley seemed odd and a bit reserved, the exact opposite of a pet me-pet me cat.  She'd hide a lot, only occasionally appearing in corners of rooms, then venturing up onto the foot of the bed, or maybe sitting in chairs for a few minutes, only to disappear to whatever secret hiding place she'd chosen.

Lately, though, she seems to sense my moods, and is always there when I need her.  As I wake from this dream with a sense of emptiness, she burrows in close to my chest, purring loudly.  "You're not alone," she seems to be saying.  "I'm always here."  She stretches a front leg, the white toes on her otherwise gray paw gently stroke my open hand.

Most nights, I go to bed before Janie does, and Staley bounces in with me.  She's always wherever I go.  Cats aren't allowed up on my desk, but Staley is.  She follows me to the door when I leave for work, and Janie says she frequently yowls for a few minutes after I leave.

The tightness in my chest is gone.  I'm relaxed and feel myself drifting back to sleep, comforted to know that I have a fuzzy gray protector, that Staley's soul is here to give comfort to mine.