My phone rang around 9:30 yesterday evening. It was my dad. I assumed he was calling to discuss The Big Bang Theory, so I immediately launched into the discussion I wanted to have with him.
“Do you think that they’re adding too much girly-stuff into the show? I think the show is at the top of its game when it’s mostly science with the sexual tension undertones. I mean, I love all of the girls, especially the geeky ones, but if I wanted to watch a show about planning a wedding, I’d watch Brideszillas!”
He agreed with me. And then there was a pause.
Now, normally my dad loves to not only recap the show but launch into deep, philosophical questions about why our society believes what it does and acts how they do. He is who I go to when I want to discuss the whys of the world. He’s always up for discussion, especially for debate. So the pause was disconcerting. He ended it with a sniffle.
“Uh, I have some bad news.”
The last time my parents called with bad news, my grandfather had passed away suddenly. I sat up straight on the couch and braced myself.
Steinway came to us in the winter of 1998. I was just turning 17. My first cat, Boo, had died the previous year and I had sworn, as most pet owners do, that I was never going to get another cat. Steinway was a stray that a family friend rescued at work, and upon seeing his sleek black body, white feet, white ascot and white whiskers on one side but black whiskers on the other side, I fell in love immediately. Like our previous cat, he was my cat.
To name him, I went through every letter of the alphabet and wrote down two names for each of those letters. Until I got to S. As he sat beside me, all black and white and love, I wrote down Steinway. If you don’t know my history, it would be a good time to let you know that Rachel from Glee and I shared something very important: We were musical theater geeks. I wrote down Steinway and didn’t write any more. He was named. My musical, loving, beautiful cat.
He was with me in my senior pictures (though not all of them). When I was pregnant with the Munchkin, he protected me. And, oddly as he was fixed, sprayed me. Twice. Apparently that’s a thing that happens. When I married my husband, Steinway had to stay with my parents. My husband is allergic to cats. At one point in time, a Post Secret card read something like, “My partner is allergic to cats and I resent him a little bit.” My husband accused me of sending it in. I didn’t. But I did always miss Steinway.
I visited with him whenever we visited The Farm. He was always my cat; funny and loyal and foot attacking. I always felt liked he looked at me with a sad gleam in his eye when I left. I had cat abandonment guilt. But my parents loved him and he was well cared for.
Mom told me last night that when she did the laundry earlier this week, he attacked her feet as he always did. I made a joke, through my tears, that seeing as he was my cat, it was probably his kidneys that gave out — like my old cat.
I cried on my husband, who let me cry on him despite sneezing at the thought of a cat. My eyes were puffy and my eye makeup was smeared as I realized: Steinway was the last cat I’ll ever own. My heart tugged a little more. Boo and Steinway were such great pets. I feel a bit of sadness knowing that the cat-owning phase of my life is completely over. Unless I outlive my husband, at which time it will be understood that I will become a crazy cat lady. (Because another husband? I think not.)
The pets from my childhood are now officially all gone. Alice in Wonderland, Boo, Pretty Patty, Casey and Steinway have all passed on from this world. I now feel the tug even more to get my sons a pet, but I realize that we’re not ready yet. In fact, this pain of loss pokes that soft spot in my heart that reminds me how deeply I feel these losses. I don’t think I could handle my sons dealing with such a loss either. Someday. Someday.
(As I moved out in 2003, pre-digital camera, I have zero pics of Steinway scanned. I should work on that.)