This post starts out in a dark place but it has a happy ending, so bear with me...
Since being overtaken by a violent allergic reaction on Monday night, I've been feeling vulnerable. There's nothing quite like finding yourself completely helpless, your own body out of control, to bring out all your worst fears. So when Ken announced that he was going to spend a night at a sleep clinic, I relapsed into a panic attack. What? Me spend a night alone in my own house? Are you crazy? I'm only 39 years old! Not ready for that kind of independence!
(For the record, I have spent nights alone plenty of times during my adult years. It's just that Me Sick plus Ken Having Medical Tests looked a little too much like things looked a month ago, during the Very Dark Times. PTSD trauma flashbacks argh!)
So I did what any self-respecting adult does when feeling fear and doubt. I called my mother and broke down blubbing. My lovely mother, who has embodied the very spirit of hospitality lo these past few weeks, did not hesitate to invite me to sleep over. She didn't need to ask twice.
I showed up at her house after work, wheeling my polka-dot granny buggy. She cooked a simple dinner and soothed me with plentiful cups of chamomile tea. We watched Brit-coms and a documentary about an archeological dig in Turkey. (My step-dad is in Florida playing golf, so we had the house and TV to ourselves.)
It's indicative of how much time I've been spending at my parents' house that their cats have accepted me as part of the family. Last night was a critical turning point. They each claimed me in their own way. Tinker, the tubby one, curled up next to me while we were watching TV, laid his head in my lap, snuggled up closer, and fell asleep purring. Doodles took over later, when I went to bed. He slept next to me, so when I woke in the night I wasn't alone. What good boys! (Most of the time.)
Given my state of mind, I hope you won't judge me for admitting that I brought my stuffed toy dog. He always sits on my bed at home. I don't cuddle him every night, but if I'm having trouble sleeping sometimes he helps me out. It just so happens that this doggie is black and white, like my parents' cats. He's also the same size as the cats, and the markings on his face are almost identical to Tinker's.
I propped the dog up against my pillow while I was getting ready to change into my pj's. Doodles wandered into the room, hopped up on the bed, caught sight of the dog, and froze. His eyes dilated and his tail puffed up. He stared and stared at this creature who looked like his brother, but wasn't his brother. Was it a cat? Was it friend or foe? The thought bubble over his head said "!!???!!!?"
He started edging closer to the dog very, very slowly and cautiously, not taking his eyes off it. There was quite a distance to cover between the foot of the bed and the dog on the pillow, so this exaggeratedly careful approach took a while. When he was 2/3 of the way there, I moved the dog and he jumped back like he was spring-loaded. Man, it was hysterical. That was the best laugh I've had in ages.
Doodles finally came around to the fact that the dog was not a threat, although he continued to get a little edgy anytime the dog "moved". I guess we all have silly fears sometimes. Even cats.