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By George Leipold
It was an unseasonably warm day in April.
“I can’t go on another walk. We won’t find him.” I said with defeat and exhaustion in my voice.
“I know,” said my roommate, “I’ll go.”
The sweat pooled along the edges of our socks and bra lines and under the sleeves of our t shirts. I didn’t go on the walk with her. But I felt her heavy feet take every step.
We started going on the walks back in December. We’d take a bag of treats. Park. Walk a few blocks. Shake the treats. Hope. Be disappointed.
The sweat pooled beneath my fingers as I switched on the ignition to my car. 100 degrees. Said the thermostat.
I hope wherever he is, he’s cool.
The winter days where it snowed were the hardest. Five months had past. I had had my heart broken again, and was feeling something beneath my finger tips, a hopeful kind of feeling, for someone new. It wasn’t love. Not yet. But I would find, that would soon follow.
In December, Grover got out.
In January, I felt the cold.
In February, I felt a stabbing pain deep down, below my stomach, that never left. In March, I tried to heal.
In April, the wound was opened fresh. In April, I said goodbye to my first serious relationship and I thought lost with it the version of myself I had found. Later, in April still, I found something new.
My tattoo artist would call it something radical.
My roommate, Nicola, called me to come home that day. I was at dinner with my parents. She panned the phone around. There he was. Tall, sleek, a little thinner than I had last saw him. But there he was. This walk, she found him. He was home. With her. He was home he was home he was home.
It was hot. But my home felt full again.
I double and tripled checked the back door. I turned off the lights. He was home.
I don’t like to think about the dark months without him. I had thought he was the calm after the storm of losing my job, getting my heart broken for the first few times, my self harm addiction. But then something new came.
My roommate’s number is 8. I check the lock until it could break off. I pull as many times as I can. I don’t have a number. It’s anxiety. Not OCD. But if I could develop that along side the Borderline Personality Disorder, I sure think I could. But I think it’s just the fear of losing my damn cat again.
Nicola likes to add 3 and 5 together to make 8. My partner, Aaron’s number is 3. I don’t have one. Why don’t I have one. But maybe I don’t need a number. I can’t have every mental illness I guess.
I have enough numbers. I have the number of partners who have destroyed me, 5. I have the number of times Grover has gotten out, 2. Number of hospitalizations, 2. Number of suicide attempts, 1. Number of times Grover has come back, 2. The number of times I have been assaulted, three.
Grover eats his wet food beside Mango and Cleo, our other cats. The younger two, like to eat together while Grover likes his peace. He’s the dad of the group.
I adopted Cleo in late December when I thought Grover would never come home and I needed something desperately to get up in the morning for. She’s small and grey. Only six months old now. Two when I adopted her. When I had cramps in my lower back and a whole in my stomach and heart, Cleo lay on my back.
Grover was my emotional support animal though. Cleo filled the void and I loved her deeply and she could have stories of her own, but no one compared to Grover.
When my partner and I don’t know what to say, we often give ourselves ten minutes and the writing prompt, “how I’m doing”. It’s a tradition I started. We nare working on speaking our truths. It’s difficult. Trust us.
One of the things I love most about my partner is the way they love my cats. Cleo immediately accepted them and sat on their lap only a few days into knowing them. We had already started dating when I found Grover. They knew me before Grover. I was worse. Much worse. Grover helped me have something to be hopeful again.
When I lost Grover, along with several failed relationships in a row, I thought that all things I loved must leave me. It’s like that saying “if you love them let them go” I guess they all loved me then. Right? While Grover was gone I experienced the failure of the relationship I had been in in ash and flames when I lost him. I had truly begun to think I would lose everything I would ever come to love.
So I got bad. Bad with cleaning my room. My apartment. My car. Bad with my thoughts. Bad with eating. Bad with all the things I could be deep down dark into. Then Grover came back. Right as I had begun to gain hope in the possibility of hope with my present partner. So things got a little easier. For the month of may. Then June hit and things got hard.
June. I thought when Grover came back things would get easier. In small ways, yes they did. But then in June February came back. February had started to creep back in in late April. That was the last time I saw him. That’s when it hit me. That it needed to be the last time because of what he did.
February. I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t happy. I missed Grover. I was restless. I wanted something else. But I didn’t speak up. That’s why I so often go down the rabbit hole of telling myself it was my fault. It’s a slippery slope. Slippery sliding down bogs and hills through mazes and trenches and worm holes and through frog ponds. That rabbit hole. Where you are going so long you forget what light looks like. What it felt like to breathe air. That one. The one where you tell yourself it was your fault for drinking too much. That one.
So we broke up. In a terrible ungodly awful way. Then we got back together. Then I was happy. Then I learned it was just a symptom.
A symptom of that thing, down the rabbit hole.
June. So Grover was back. I was in the healthiest and most loving relationship of my life. Then trauma hit.
“I think Grover and I are more friends than pet and owner,” I say to my partner one night.
It’s just about July now. Things have started to get easier again.
So I guess, this has never really been a story about a black cat. It’s been the story of a piece of my soul that walks outside my body. That ebbs and flows with me as I travel down the rabbit hole. That I found on the street. That I called Grover. I’m not sure that Grover and I are really of the same realm. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one that sees him. If he’s just my spirit guide. But if he’s my spirit guide, why oh why did he leave. God? Spirits above? Can you explain that one.
I said he was my familiar. And I still believe that. I think it’s why he came back. I think maybe I only remembered how bad it was in actuality because Grover came back.
Grover brought clarity. Something only a witches cat can offer, I think.
Note: This is a sequel to "Lost: Tall Back Cat"
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.