That day started out like any other in my recently turbulent existence. I was back in Indiana for job interviews, working from the apartment and had hit pause for breakfast. The scent of sauteed mushrooms lingered as I forked the first bite of omelet into my mouth.
A text notification broke the silence. "Can you check on Kay? She didn't show up for work."
Kay is my neighbor. She's also The Electrician's aunt. The text was from her twin sister.
Sometimes you just know. Call it what you want - premonition, a sense, foreboding. I just knew. It made sense based on all the things you read, hear, see. Patterns mean something.
I knew as I strode through the yard still damp with dew. I knew as I dragged the emptied trashcan up the driveway toward the silent house, I knew as I introduced myself to her friend who had been asked to check on Kay by another of the sisters.
Our banging on the doors and windows went unanswered. A phone rang inside. Over and over. Kay's friend called the landlord and got his voice mail, asked him to come by with the key. We knew.
We did what we had to do. We found a way in.
I climbed through the window and my first impression was that the room was empty. My sense of relief was overcome by reality as I stood up straight and looked over at the bed.
Kay's friend knew.
Even though we knew before we saw, it was not enough to blunt the shock. Kay's friend wailed. I went numb. My hands shook as I dialed 911. It was the easiest call I'd make all day.
*************The Electrician comes from a large, close-knit family. Even with blending, there's still a sense of belonging that comes with the connection. They take you in, almost absorb you. There are distinctions made. Favored, not favored, most favored. I've known these people most of my life. They know my family. It's a small place where we come from.
Grandma's farm became the hub of activity. Family converged, some flying in to be there. Arrangements were made, food arrived, like magic, at the farmhouse.
A mother cat and her baby boy appeared, mama cat hiding, her boy winding among the feet and legs to -ing and fro-ing from house to car, car to house. He was undaunted by the activity.
*****************The services were held, memories shared, meals eaten. We even attended church. Took up two entire pews in that country house of worship. It was both expected and appreciated. The minister mentioned during Kay's funeral - how happy it made Grandma to have us all there.
I couldn't remember the last time I'd been to church. I'd been living as an agnostic Jew since 1988. I whispered to The Electrician, "What should I do about communion?"
"Have you been baptized?"
"Then take it. That's what I'm going to do." Like me, he doesn't believe, doesn't know how to believe.
We shrugged at each other when it was over. We didn't choke. The church didn't come crashing down around us. There were no flames. My agnosticism was reinforced.
We were there for Grandma, I told my own astonished parents later. It was about family, community. We were there for The Electrician's father and his sisters, siblings now minus one. Grandma was doing the unthinkable.
**************Mama cat died last week. Her little guy was still hanging around Grandma's house but she was afraid he'd get hit by a car. The Electrician, not a fan of cats, worried about what would happen when it gets cold. I mentioned how interesting it was that the cats showed up just after Kay died.
While he smirked at me, I could see the glimmer of what if on his face.
I'm not saying the cat is Kay, I explained. It's just that sometime animals appear at the right time. Are you sure Grandma doesn't need this cat right now?
"You don't know Grandma if you think she'd ever take an animal into the house. "
The Electrician knows I struggle with being alone so much. I went from a life bursting with people and things that needed to be done to the very stillness of this apartment. And he knows it's only going to get worse as he looks at new jobs on the road, even further from home and for longer periods of time.
Like the quiet of my life weighs on me, my loneliness weighs on him.
I've learned a thing or two about non-cat lovers. 1. Let them name the cat and 2. Conversion is possible.
Meet Sonny Crockett, named by the man who wore a Miami Vice jacket for his senior picture.