I just finished wiping down the studio floor, picking up the last bits of kitty litter, catching up with the last floating wisps of hair. We had to keep her locked in here for her last few days because she was throwing up so much blood and we needed to know whether she was eating or drinking. She wasn't. The bedding is in the washer, and I no longer need to put down a cloth at the foot of the bed to catch everything she sheds for easy washing.
One of the girl's stuffed animals is on the work table, needing mending, and out of the corner of my eye I register the furry blob and think it's her, just for a minute, before I realize it's not. I wouldn't have paid her any attention any way, because she preferred to be left alone, didn't like to be petted or even talked to most of the time, just wanted us around. We could tell because she would be very needy when we came back from trips and would sit with us for a brief bit before going back to her cat-as-an-island thing. This had shifted a little in the last few months, and she was sleeping on my feet every night. I thought it was probably because some soft part of her missed Prudence, but maybe it was because she wasn't feeling that good and that overcome her reluctance to touch. She'd crawl up every morning once the girls were snuggled in our bed, waking up, and sit in between Addie and I, paws tucked beneath her, loud purring and seemingly contented until someone dared touch her. Then she would arch her back and be off.
Addie thought of her as her kitty, because Sadie would sometimes let her pet her one nobody was looking..
The part I hate the most is figuring out what to do next. Nolie and I are allergic to cats, so a part of me is pleased to see the last of the cat hair thrown out, sucked into the vacuum, the carpet a deep brown again. Maybe we will feel better, breathe easier. Things are a shade simpler and there is less to worry about. But the lure of having kittens, their little paws, their raucous purrs, is strong too. Or maybe another dog, a companion for Milo, so we could get new couches and they wouldn't get scratched up.
The problem is the absence and how to fill it, knowing we're not quite ready to fill it, but the time is coming, and what to do then. We could leave the absence, let it dull, get used to it. But we are an animal family, at final blush, and so the what next is the thing.