Larry, my old tortoiseshell cat, my first cat, has an entire ventricle of my heart all to herself, and she’s got it all set up with the comfy chair and fluffy quilt and gas heat and the whole nine yards. That cat got most of my love, and when people were being difficult she got all of it, and then she went and died on me after only seventeen years, in defiance of our previous agreement. After a couple years we picked up the Tater cat, and she has several fine qualities–four, if you include her affectionate teeth, which I don’t. Tater’s just a fine and sturdy cat, but she has never had the same effect on me as Larry does, even in memory, now that the details of her personal hygiene are fading.

I don’t mind telling you this, because Tater doesn’t read my blog. She’s been featured in it, but she never reads it. Her tastes run more to mouse mysteries and adventure. She does like to apply asshole prints to my manuscripts, but I’m not so sensitive as to consider that an opinion. Larry, on the other hand, would totally have read my blog if I’d had one.

So Dave and I were out walking in the neighborhood the other day and suddenly, here comes this little tortoiseshell kitty from a house a half-block away at full gallop, straight at me like an arrow from a bow, and skids to a halt at my feet. We looked at each other. “Larry?” I said, tentatively, and she flops over to show me that freckledy belly I so adored. We hug. We kiss. One of us gets a belly-rub. Then I tell her we have to be going, and she sits down, and we walk away, and a block later (I looked) she was still sitting and looking at me.

A week later I found an excuse to swing by again, and the house she shot out of was vacant, a For Rent sign in the yard. Well, that’s Larry all over: just cuts out on you, after only seventeen years.

Most of my friends believe in something. Some have met ghosts, some have lucky numbers, some hope for reincarnation, some herd coincidences until they corral them into significance, some believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. A large number aspire to eternity in the form of a vaporous spiritual miasma. Almost all would insist that my dearly departed Larry has reassured me that she lives still. I don’t know. I’m not really constituted that way.

But I’m sure glad she dropped by.

Happy Thanksgiving.