Counting On It


Overwhelmed and oblivious to the date or season or time of day. That’s where I’ve been staying. I know when it’s Sunday because the hubs is off work and we don the monkey suits and go to church. After that, time tracking is all downhill. Multiple times this year. When I think back to January 1, and all that’s happened since, my brain whirls. Days and weeks blur into months and seasons, and, in my mind, we’ve gone from snow to blood-boiling heat to rain-soaked autumn leaves within the span of seventy-two hours.


We were discussing Christmas the other day, and my pathetic internal time tracker wasn’t, well, tracking. Christmas? Did I miss Halloween and Thanksgiving and, wait, did I miss the vote? Don’t we need to vote before Christmas?


And then hubs asked about trees. What are we going to do this year? We put up two trees last year—one for us and one for my grandmother in her little apartment. The last tree she’d enjoy as last Christmas was her last.


I’m counting on this Christmas to be weird. Bittersweet. Different. Glad we got that family group photo on the 25th. Glad we put up two trees.


Last Christmas was Cosmo the Cat’s last one, too. He also enjoyed our tree as much as Grandma enjoyed hers, but I don’t think Grandma chewed on her tree’s branches. Nor do I believe she laid underneath it to take naps, but I didn’t watch her 24/7, so it’s possible… (And before I get nasty emails, I’m not being disrespectful. Gma, may she rest in peace, would find that comment funny—or she’d tell on herself that she’d accidentally stumbled and really did lay under the tree for a bit to gather her strength. That wouldn’t surprise me one bit).


As my slow-to-process brain pulled itself from the past back to the current conversation on trees and décor and whose-house-we-gonna-land-at-this-year, I looked around the room.


We have three new family members since January.


Stella Marie. You met her here.


Amara Mino. My son’s cat.


And Malachi Maxwell. Our summer (was it summer, really?) rescue. A malnourished little boy who, along with his two sisters, had needed milk replacement and who’d nearly met demise when demon children tried to kick the kittens into oncoming traffic. My daughter witnessed this, scooped up the trio, and, poof! Our shed became a nursery.


And I truly thought each time I went out to feed them that I’d find one or more of them dead. They were that scrawny.


The little girls did well, grew, hunted, climbed, and generally did all things cat with relative ease. They graduated to barn life, happy and free to mouse and hunt on a friend’s farm for the rest of their days.


Malachi? Weeellll, he wasn’t cut out for barn life. He nearly died in our shed when he tangled himself in an old hammock net that I didn’t even remember we had, or it wouldn’t have been there in the first place. Passed out right in front of me. I’m blowing in his face as I untangle his neck, glad he breathed before I had to attempt mouth-to-mouth. I think I knew then, even before his oxygen-deprived lids opened slowly and he purred through his pain, that he’d be ours.


I knew before I noticed he was always about five steps behind his sisters. He’d try the kitty-see-kitty-do thing and fail miserably. Falling out of trees. Running into things. No clue how to play or hunt or pounce without mimicking, and simply being still if his sisters weren’t in sight.

We kept him. Farm life would eat him alive.


He’s well, we think, other than that dimwit quality. He’s attempted a ride in the clothes dryer. He’s tried—more than once—to jump into a 350-degree oven. It takes him thirty seconds to fall from a three-foot desk. I’m not sure how he manages to be such a dork. That early malnutrition? Oxygen deprivation? Uuuhmmm…being a boy? (Okay. That was a little disrespectful but compared to the sisters and our two rescue girls, this boy is just, well, not right. I’ve got nothing else personally to go on with this. Cosmo was raised by dogs, and not as cat-like. Not a good comparison. And I’ve had many girl dogs and only a couple of boys. The boy dogs were, well, dimwits.)


He really likes watching TV. He prefers crime shows and legal dramas with lots of back-and-forth dialog. He also enjoys watching publishing videos and writing tutorials with me, especially when the instructors talk with their hands.


He loves his ball track. He pretends he’s a lion on a gazelle hunt by chasing a little white ball around a closed plastic circle. For an hour at a time.


He bats fuzzy felt mice in his paws, and when they disappear under the couch, he still bats with his paws, his poor little mind not processing the mouse is gone. He’s batting a ghost.


He tags along after his adopted adult sisters. Stella, a mother in another life, patient and playful with him. Amara, the boss of the space, cleans his ears, then beats him thoroughly about the head (and he allows this!!!). He still mimics, watching how the big girls do things, then attempting (and usually failing) to do it on his own.


He cried after me the first few days in the house. I couldn’t get two hands free to get writing or work done, so I stuffed him in a cross-body bag and papoosed his butt into naptime against my ribcage. I’d wash dishes and type and do housework like this to keep him out of danger and away from Amara’s claws. (Reminded me of keeping my infant son away from my daughter when she was a terrifically curious/terrible-two-year old intent in experimenting with the new baby boy. Those days were much more stressful and, likewise, I never knew what day it was. Cats are easier than humans, if you’re wondering. And the cats are not the reason why I don’t know what day it is. I think that fault lies squarely with the humans.)


Back to the Christmas conversation. Hubs wants a tree and lots of décor on display. I’m counting three cats, none of whom have seen an indoor Christmas tree.


I’m counting the number of times the tree will hit the floor. At two a.m.


I’m counting the number of times the vintage Clothtique Santas will be drug from the fireplace and hidden in the bathtub, the cat tower, or behind a litter box. At three a.m.


I’m counting the number of times Malachi tries to hang himself with garland or lights or with whatever rope/fishing line/twine we rig to keep the tree upright. At four, five, six, and seven a.m. as well as every p.m. counterpart.


And I’m counting on the fact that we’ll try a tree and a few Santas. I’m counting on losing it when we pull out the decorations and Cosmo’s old stocking is still tucked away with ours. That emotion will remind me of Grandma’s lasts and on and on it will go.

I’m counting on heading to the Dollar Store, drowning my sorrows in three new red stockings for the new fur babies. Along with all the goodies that Santa Cat will tuck inside.


And I’m counting on the fact that I’ll lose lots of sleep once the décor goes up.


It’s okay. It doesn’t matter. It won’t make much difference.


I’m counting on not knowing what day of the week it is until March of next year anyway.


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