I know not when these days began, though I know when they ended.
I sit on the couch and wait. I will wait forever for that which is expected: Larenti rushing to my side, leaping atop the cushions to join me. From anywhere in the house, he always knew when I sat down there, and he would always run to the living room and jump up to take his place on my lap or by my side.
But no more.
The rest of The Kids still share the couch with me at every opportunity, and they vie for my lap and to get somehow in contact with me as Larenti always did, yet the absence remains unbearable, a blade cutting deep with every moment.
I lie on the floor next to the bed and look up as I await his usual reaction. Await is all I can do now, for Larenti’s face will never greet me by peering over the edge of the blankets with a half-questioning, half-delighted visage painted with beautiful earthen hues. He enjoyed quality time along with the other cats, yet he never seemed sure about this particular game. I always loved his curiosity in response to my being on the floor beneath him; equally, I loved that he knew it would always lead to blizzards of love between us.
Yet his face will never again peek over the edge of the bed.
The rest of The Kids still engage in Quality Time with the utmost interest and joy, and they try their best to sweep away the loss with kisses, touches, purring, play, and all manner of passion, though the emptiness they seek to fill is not theirs to fill.
I awake and climb from beneath the covers anticipating the morning ritual. Anticipate is now all that will happen, for Larenti’s voice will not fill the dark room with greetings and requests for affection, his form will not sit on the edge of the bed as I kneel next to it and shower him with soft words and petting, and his formidable purr will no longer bring joy to my heart as he demonstrates his love and contentment.
The morning ritual is forever changed.
The rest of The Kids remain steadfast in taking and receiving adoration in those early morning hours just as they have always done, yet a vacuous chasm now exists that can never be bridged.
I grab the cat food or treats, and then I look and listen as the horde descends upon me with much meowing and jockeying for position, although now that one face in the background will never offer up the plaintive cries that always made me remember the skittish one who would stay back, stay out of the fray, but who nonetheless joined the restless herd in pretending they were all starving to death. While I never let the food bowl grow empty, the sound of the bag meant tripping over cats eager to get something fresher than yesterday’s offerings, and tapping on the top of a can of treats or shaking a bag of treats would bring them all running. Larenti stayed out of the commotion as much as possible, always lagged behind while still showing the same devotion to goodies—or even just a refill of the bowl. His eyes wide as he watched me closely, he would offer up his sorrowful yet beguiling voice as part of the feline chorus that defined such times. Only now his face will be missing, his voice silent, his stunning and wide eyes only a memory of what was.
Food and treat time now bears a fresh scar that will never fully heal.
The rest of The Kids continue creating loud, boisterous obstacles under my feet whenever they hear the food bag or treat containers; however, I keep wishing for that seventh song and hoping for a sighting of the lion, neither of which will ever caress my soul again.
I grab the camera as afternoon sun fills the bedroom with warm light and pools of sunshine where The Kids gather. I will never have another chance to see how such moments brought out the stunning colors and contrasts in Larenti’s face. His large green eyes would catch the light like diamonds even has his beige tabby coat glowed like a fire on the beach. His beauty was undeniable, yet at such moments it became a cause for celebration that the universe itself could not ignore. I loved to feel his gaze resting upon me, his eyes devouring in great sweeps all that could be seen, his jovial spirit spilling from them when finally they touched me directly.
Only now the camera will never capture his magic again.
The rest of The Kids still offer their magnificence when the light is just right, still congregate in the bedroom where a wall of glass proffers afternoon pools of sunshine where they can bathe and nap and gather the warmth unto their bosoms; the pain of one missing, however, screams like an unhealing wound.
Larenti: November 2002 – March 2009