One of my roommates while I am in New York is Edgar.
The past two weeks, Edgar has been dealing with two overactive, noisy, and often stinky foster kittens. And while he certainly sees them as an annoyance, they have been garnering quite a bit of love and attention from the humans in the apartment (because, holy COW they are cute!). He has been handling it like a trooper, but has become an uncharacteristically affectionate cat.
During times of anxiety, Edgar turns to his vice. A stuffed (and extremely realistic) rat named “Ratsy”. He begins to yowl and hunt for it. Then he finds it, and makes a very satisfied “I killed the rat” cat noise, and carries it triumphantly throughout the apartment.
It always (ALWAYS) looks like he has a dead rat in his mouth. During the day, it’s easy to determine that it’s a toy. At night, however, when you turn your head to find it laying next to you on the pillow, notsomuch. So the household decision has been to hide Ratsy in a drawer overnight to avoid the yowling and nighttime rat-terror.
It rained this morning, so I was happy to sleep in. Then the sun came out and a cool breeze slipped in my window and began to beckon me outdoors. So I am sitting cross-legged on my bed, enjoying the breeze and lazily putting on my makeup. Edgar has been curled up against my leg, so I’m in no real hurry to leave. Then the kittens begin to mew from their penthouse, so Edgar jumps down and begins to yowl while hunting for Ratsy.
It suddenly occurs to me that I haven’t seen Ratsy this entire trip. I wonder if he has been permanently put away, or lost or (gulp) disposed of. I call Edgar back up onto the bed and give him the best advice I can think of:
When you lose something you love, it’s sad. I understand that it’s hard to go on without it. You will continue to hunt for it and yowl, but less and less each day, until you have either forgotten about it, or are okay with the loss. And your life will go on. And you will be fine. But maybe someday Ratsy will reappear. And you will be excited, and celebrate as if it were Christmas morning, and remember exactly how much you loved that dumb rat.