I don’t want much at Christmas. I have all the candles, sweaters, and socks that I need. But this Christmas, there was something on my list.
I wanted a cat in the house.
After Jasmine’s death last month, I thought I wouldn’t want another cat for months or more. But the truth is, the house was so empty with only me in it. I was lonely in a way I had never been. But maybe I should wait, I told myself. Give it more time. Wait until after the holidays.
But then I went down to the local animal shelter to take a look.
Take a look. Ha. The animal lover’s ultimate self-delusion: taking a look at the animal shelter.
I sat down on the floor in a room full of cats. Some eyed me warily, some ignored me completely, and some looked interested. But one came up from behind me, crawled into my lap, and started to purr.
I looked down at her and gave her a scratch. “You’re sweet,” I said. “But I can’t take you home. You look exactly like my Jasmine.”
That was my one stipulation, you see. I didn’t care about age, or sex, or even color, as long as it wasn’t a black cat. I didn’t want a reminder of my girl.
But this little black cat looked up at me, and for the first time I saw that she had only one eye.
We’ll see about that, she seemed to say.
I stayed strong and left her there.
But I was back two days later. And two days after that.
Each time she ran across the room when she saw me and climbed into my lap. Gently but firmly, she head butted the other cats away from us. Get your own human, she seemed to say. This one’s mine.
On the third time, I looked down at her and said, “Okay. You win.”
It’s best, I think, not to pick a cat. Just let them pick you.
And so I brought home my ten-month old little girl and named her Blinker.
We’re getting to know one another, but she’s a lover, not a fighter. She goes on the prowl in the middle of the night and knocks books off shelves and pictures frames off tables. She eats like someone’s going to beat her to the bowl. And she purrs and purrs and purrs whenever she sees me.
She’s not my Jasmine; she doesn’t even look like her to me anymore. She’s got her own personality and her own attitude. I love them both in different ways.
I woke up this Christmas Eve morning with Blinker sleeping on my chest. I thought of Jasmine, and how much I missed her, and then of how happy I was to have a new kitty with me.
I pet Blinker on the head and thought, all I want for Christmas is you.
Then, mistaking my toe for a mouse under the blanket, she attacked.