Sophie Sunday

From the Vault!

I have been in the process of organizing old digital photos to transfer to an image storage site (Flickr), and I have had fun looking through the past few years. A lot of smiles have come from Sophie’s first year with us, when she was all round eyes and fluffy tail (she grew into them, let me tell you).

It was August 2006 when a surgeon told me that I was probably unable to have children. I latched onto “probably” quite desperately as I recovered from that series of surgeries. Probably meant there was still a chance.

That next year was dedicated to figuring out the nuances of everything that was wrong with me. Of course, being that I have a very rare genetic disorder sparks a lot of interest from various specialists. I bet that I didn’t really need half of those appointments, and I did start to feel like I was a bit of a freak show for the medical community’s entertainment.

It was through the course of those appointments that probably turned into a definite no…any slight chance that may have burned was promptly extinguished. Then came Sophie…and so begins the life of the most spoiled cat on the face of the planet.

Sophie

I still wish you were here.

Shortly after I moved back from NC

Time is slippery: it’s difficult to grasp and impossible to hold still…and I just can’t believe that six years have passed since that sad day. I can close my eyes and remember the feel of her soft skin and the strength of her hug. I remember the sound of her friendly voice and the welcoming scent of lavender that she spread throughout our home. I wish I could forget those last few days of her life…those memories seem to collide and dominate my thoughts around this time of year. They are the nightmare that I can never quite escape.

This year, my grief is heightened. My father-in-law passed away suddenly on January 20th. I am caught between the ache of losing such a kind person and the empathy of losing a parent. Life can really hurt sometimes, but it’s the empathy that’s twisting the knife. It’s taking me back to the rawness, back to the breathlessness, back to the panic in the face of learning to live without someone.

I went to her grave as I do every year on the anniversary. It’s the only day I visit because the experience is too overwhelming. Away from there, I can remember her healthy, laughing, carefree…there, I am slapped with the unyielding reality that she’s gone. The morning she died was sunny and unfairly pleasant, but January 26th has been gray and barren every year since.

I didn’t expect Nick to go with me this year…he has his own heartache to work through. Even so, I was grateful when he made plans to do so. He wiped the snow away from her stone as I knelt on a blanket upon the frozen earth and wept. Feeling guilty, I apologized to him—this was his time…his sadness was fresher—but I couldn’t stop the tears. He knelt beside me and told me to that January 26th will always be my day…oh how I wish to God that it wasn’t…that nothing of importance had ever happened on this day.

I hope I can be as much of a comfort to him as he’s been to me.

Sophie Sunday

When Nick shot this video Friday night, I admit that me and my cousin were embarrassed by the sound of our raucous laughter. Yet, I find myself sharing it here.

To set the stage for you, Michelle came over Friday night to help rice potatoes for a planned lefse day (which didn’t work out). Nick asked hopefully if she would be staying for awhile…because then he could coerce the two of us into a board game…namely, Beatles Trivial Pursuit. We actually have a few versions of Trivial Pursuit between the two of us, but I’m afraid that we do not play board games all that often—which is a shame because some of the funniest conversations of my recollection have happened during this sort of play.

When Nick and I started seeing each other, we had a no-TV night every week. During this one sacred night, we participated in technology-free activities such as Yahtzee, Scrabble, and various trivia games. This, as with so many other good habits we used to have, fell by the wayside when I re-enrolled in my B.S. program (pun intended). I could not afford a technology free night when there was always something due—either for work or one of my classes.

Now that the novelty of sitting on the couch with absolutely nothing to do has worn thin, I am trying to make the effort to practice my social skills once more.

But the Beatles, ah. The Beatles. I have spent my life loving The Beatles. I dragged Michelle into the obsession somewhere in the early 90s, and she’s been infected ever since. Being that Nick is painfully unappreciative and knowledgeable of THE GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME, his request to play that particular board game seemed all the more desperate. So, we played.

And how we laughed…and laughed, and laughed—mainly at Nick’s answers because he seriously got the most difficult questions of the night. I wouldn’t have known all that information on Brian Epstein either, but he made best of it and entertained us for hours. We were so amused that we laughed easily and boisterously at just about anything. And with that, I introduce the fuzziest player in our game:

Incendiary

I prefer the quiet to the raucous. The quiet gives me the illusion of control and security. When everything is still, I feel like I have a handle on my environment…and I will be instantly aware of any changes. That I spook very easily probably has a bit to do with this preference.

The thing is, I can get into my head very easily; I can get in and shut out everything else. It makes me rather efficient at work because concentration is never a problem, but I have lost count how many times I have hissed swear words when a coworker sneaks up on me. I hate that moment when my heart feels like a ricocheting rubber ball inside my chest.

Our treadmill faces the partial windows in the basement instead of the stairs. Have you ever run on a treadmill? Dude, it’s loud…but it’s rhythmic and becomes a sort of white noise to me; I stop registering the sound. The noise may not irritate me, but it definitely impairs one of my senses when I’ve already compromised another. Suddenly, I can neither see nor hear someone’s approach.

For this reason, I don’t like anyone to be in the basement while I am running. This should be easy enough to achieve as the basement doesn’t see a whole lot of traffic. However, I seem to be interrupted regularly. My response to this is to stop the treadmill, step off the belt, and wait until the intruder leaves. My intruder—and Sophie doesn’t count—seems to find reasons to come down during one of my runs.

If I was looking at this situation from the outside, I would find this kind of charming. He likes to spend time with me, he likes talking with me. Maybe he even likes watching my…erm…assets while I run. But the point is that I’m not looking at this from the outside. I’m looking at this from the perspective of the person who loses years off her life every time he sneaks up on her.

One thing I’ve learned about Nick is that I should never tell him how to avoid irritating me. “Why not?” you ask. Well, that’s a valid question. It would only make sense to let him know these things up front so that he knows how to stop my inner fire monster from making an appearance. Another thing I’ve learned about Nick is that he doesn’t make sense: he loves irritating people, particularly when you tell him specific behaviors to avoid.

He sat on the stairs and talked to me tonight while I ran. My responses were clipped, urging him to scram. He eventually rose, acting affronted and put out—predictable. I would have gloried in my success, but I was busy trying to put out my blazing breath.

Sophie Sunday

Nick and I were out of town for a few days last week. Since Sophie is fed daily, we need to impose on a family and friends to take care of her whenever we are gone. We have a backup caretaker, and a backup backup caretaker—but both were also out of town last weekend. My friend Becky, who lives in the same town, offered to stop in and take care of her. She recently rescued a cat of her own, and she’s got a little kitty fever going on. (Of course, it may just be allergies.)

Sophie

Becky has been in my home before, several times actually. Unfortunately, she has never stayed long enough for Sophie to decide whether or not she’s safe. Our cat yearns to be social—sometimes aggressively loving—but she still has a knee-jerk (paw-jerk?) reaction of fear with new people. You just need to sit down for awhile, keep your voice soft, and pay her absolutely no attention at all. I guarantee you that she’ll be drawn to you within minutes.

I warned Becky of this so that she wouldn’t take it personally if my cat got one look of her and bolted. When new people so much as look at Sophie, she flattens her ears and sprints toward a hiding place as if the very devil is on her tail. (And I thought that I didn’t like attention!)

We arrived back in Madison Tuesday night. I talked with Becky the next day when I picked up my key. As I suspected, Sophie didn’t let her near. She said that Sophie took “evasive action” when she so much as breathed in her direction. I keep snickering at the phrase “evasive action” as applied to my fuzzy, pampered house cat…but basically, Sophie spent the weekend completely alone.

I suppose that explains why she almost took me to the ground in her excited vigor when I first walked through the door. Oh, Sophie. If only you would be so capriciously cute for everyone who stopped by…

Sophie