I keep expecting him to wander into the room, give me that aloof green-gold stare, and wander out. Or maybe stop and stretch against the back of my chair, raking it once or twice with claws missing for years.
He was approximately six years old, and the vet says we couldn't have seen it coming. Smudge apparently had hypertrophiccardiomyopathy. There isn't much that could have been done for him.
Harry came home while I was at the vet, and I'm grateful for his company. The house isn't empty of pets, either, because Bounty is still here. He follows me from room to room, not sure why things feel different tonight. Does he look for Smudge? I can't tell. I was never able to get him to understand the difference between "Get the cat!" - for chasing one out of the yard - and "Get Smudge!" - for those rare occasions when Smudgie wanted to play.
I see the things that made Smudge who he was: stretched out on the pool table, flicking his head sideways in a "Now you pounce on me" invitation to Bounty, ground-bound below. Wandering into the bathroom for a scritch just as I was finishing up in there. Coming onto the bed for his morning and nightly pets (five or six, no more except on rare occasions). Hearing his meows on the phone when Harry left me a message during my travels. His look of disgust when the dog did something more idiotic than usual, like chasing his own tail. Sitting in the hallway watching the aquarium guy do his stuff, just to make sure it got done correctly. Bonelessly draped over the top of the bookcase on my side of the bed.
I'll miss him, but Smudge lives on in my memory.
Copyright 2014 Michelle Hakala