Emma was Brenda's pet cat. Well, that's what she started out as. Brenda got her shortly after the two of us got together, and Emma immediately spent much of her time showing her displeasure at having to share Brenda with me (especially the first year, when I was finishing school and Brenda often left Emma alone in her apartment while visiting me at school). But in those first few years after Brenda got her, I also took care of Emma during the summers when Brenda was off doing summer theatre gigs. I quickly became very attached to her, as, I believe, Emma got attached to me. We sorted each other out.
In total, the three of us went through almost eighteen years of life together, marking loads of residences, moments, anniversaries, milestones, memories. There'll never be another cat like her, there'll never be another Emma the Cat. She died, one year ago today.
Emma would never put up with another animal in the house, so/but for a very long and fun time, we were "stuck" with "just" Emma. And so shortly after Emma died, Hooper the Dog came into our lives, and in many ways I see my amazing experiences raising and learning about this dog as Emma's last gift to us. I suppose Emma continues to live on in Hooper.
We also added another cat--Ellie--to our family last December, and while I haven't written much about her on here yet she adds an extra layer of complexity to this weird little ride of adapting to life without Emma. She's different, yet similar, to Emma. So it's been fun and sad, exhilarating and disappointing, interesting and boring, to get accustomed to this new feline resident. More to come about her in the future, for sure.
But the main act tonight is Emma. I miss her still, always will.
I wanted to share with you one of my favorite Emma stories (more specifically, one of my favorites not already published on this website).
We had just moved from our first apartment in Hoboken, NJ, to a new, bigger, two bedroom place. It was hot--really hot--and humid. O.J. Simpson had beaten a murder rap that very day. We had paid professional movers to move our crap from Tenth and Park to Seventh and Willow Ave in Hoboken, and despite being spared the pain of dragging our stuff up five flights of stairs, we were still currently surrounded by boxes, brimming with Our Shit, swaddled in immense amounts of pro-grade, puffy and fluffy, bubble-wrap and puffy-paper.
Hours and hours after the movers had left, we were sweaty, tired, and painted into corners with our things and packing paper. Emma had been exploring the new digs with the careful stalk and active nose of a cougar in a new zoo. Emma jumped up on the microwave cart, currently in the middle of the kitchen, and--this is important--next to a recently-emptied box that was now the receptacle for all discarded packing materials, and began to walk around and eye the box adjacent. Three feet high, and loaded with puffy things, she began to show an unhealthy interest in the box.
"Brenda..." I silently gestured towards the scene that was unfolding.
Slowly, Emma walked to the edge of the cart and lowered her head toward the box, sniffing. She waved and poked a paw into the abyss, seeing that the paper would not hold her weight. But the curiosity was too great, and we watched her slowly try to walk on water, if you will, and fail miserably. She ended up doing a head-first dive into the box, disappearing instantly into the paper. We laughed, but the fun was just beginning. The box began to tremble, the papers churned and flew about, and eventually Emma exploded out from the paper, perched impossibly on the edge of the box, and then as the box began to fall over, she did a gainer off the edge of the box and shot like a bullet for the back bedroom, not to be seen for quite a while.
We laughed so hard, I can still recall how hard my sides hurt.
These are the memories I think of today. I'll think of her all day today, and I'll think of her at least a little bit, every day, forever.