In the dark and silence of our nights, I would wake up and find two intense eyes right in front of mine, staring benevolently; once the shock was gone, I would listen to his purr and smile. He would sit on my chest driven by some obscure interest and watch me sleep. My dreams were alive in his eyes with the mysterious exchange of our two psyches merging in the middle of the night.
We named him Mimi, a short for Minet, the French nickname for cats. Pretty generic but so natural to me and pleasant to the cat's ears. He came to me when he pleased with the wonderful independence of cats imbued with a sense of self that inspired me always to be only my own person.
Who gave them this complete sense of personal ease, of simple pleasure like finding the plushest cushion or the place in the morning sun to lick his fur and, pleased with the world, fall asleep, ears in tune with the wind?
Mimi thrilled me with his elegant form and the simple grace of his movements as he went about living like a regal self all over the house. I watched him move to the innumerable places he liked. I could not have chosen better. The higher ones were best. He was a red tabby, big, an orangey shade that I loved with the amber eyes that seemed to echo some of my most hidden dreams and whiskers forever moving, in tune with the days.
My husband and I had to leave once and my niece found a
coworker to come and check on him. As they reached the top of my entrance stairs, he told her "I though there was nobody here!" Mimi's steps resonated on our cushioned floor like the ones of an intruder pacing the floor. The man was astonished. How could a cat make so much noise? Mimi was taking his morning walk, strolling the house.
We got him in Miami, Florida. After moving here in Colorado, he looked at our decks covered in snow with total disbelief. A medium he had never seen. He went out reluctantly and once in the white stuff, he shook his legs, looking at the snow in dismay and shaking it off his paws until he got totally used to it. Since then he would go out in the cold and white garden as if it was his territory of choice.
I let him free. I watched him from the deck while he roamed the outdoors, smelled the flowers, got an occasional bird, chased butterflies, established his territory and reigned like a benevolent monarch upon his land.
He oftentimes would accompany me in the garden while I pulled a plant from its roots or collected weeds in my basket. He was silent and gentle but his strength was never in doubt.
I refused to put him to sleep. I thought he should die in his time, like humans do, with dignity and the knowledge that he lived well and that his life had come to an end. He came one evening to my studio and purred in a diminished body then went outside the door and was no more.
I wrapped his body in one of my shawls and stayed with him until my husband returned. It was dark and I loved him.
We buried him in the garden but at night, in my dreams, he comes to visit, silent with huge amber eyes watching me sleep. I know he helps in healing my body, straddling me like he did years ago when I was sick while his purr would absorb all the pain.