I don’t like cats.
I’m a dog lover.
My wife, on the other hand, loves cats. She has several and her comment is “they’re almost like family.” I try to accept them because they make her happy. But I wish we didn’t have so many.
Our first marriages ended in divorce. But this marriage has lasted longer. We constantly reassure ourselves that we have found our soul mates. Her children and my children are “our” children.
Our marriage is supposed to be one of those happily forever after unions.
We were busy enjoying ourselves and celebrating our anniversary when she started feeling weak and tired.
“Take a nap”, I said. “You’ll feel better after that.”
Since we were away on vacation she tried to put up a good front and say that she was fine.
In the days after we returned home I noticed that she still was pale and tired.
“Well,” she said “I guess that means we’re getting old.”
But there wasn’t any excitement in her voice when she said that.
Finally she went to the doctor. She was given vitamins and told to make an appointment for a series of blood tests.
When the results were ready we both trekked to the doctor’s office.
That’s when we heard the big “C” mentioned. Great strides have been made with cancer these days but not when it comes to being terminal. She was terminal!
The treatments were grueling. But she remained positive. I could tell that the disease was wearing her down.
This isn’t supposed to happen. We are soul mates. Lovers forever. I can’t imagine life without her.
As spring turned into summer she began to spend more time in bed. She would get up for dinner because she said that she didn’t want me to eat alone. I could see that it was a struggle for her. Then in early evening I would go and sit by her bedside and read to her. Since her vision was dimming she’d enjoyed hearing my voice and listening to me read.
I always came away from her room with tears in my eyes and a lump stuck in my throat.
I tried to be brave for her but it was difficult.
During that time her cats always kept her company. They would climb up on her bed and she would be smiling as she pet each one. I am almost jealous of those cats. I wanted them out of her room. But she said they brought her great comfort and joy.
Soon she was too weak to come to the table and have dinner with me. One day she said to me “I have something to ask you.”
“Sure, anything,” I answered.
“I want you to promise me something,” she replied.
“Whatever it is I’ll say yes,” I said.
“It’s important to me that after I’m gone you keep and take care of my cats,” she said. Then she hesitated, “One more thing. I don’t want you to be alone. I want you to find someone else to share your life with.”
I answered. “Yes, I’ll take care of your cats.” I never answered the other request. How could I? We were soul mates.
Every night she’d ask the same thing. And every night I remained silent.
Then one night after I had read to her she appeared more frail and weak than before and she whispered her request once again.
Feeling so sad I just said, “Yes, I will.” A look of peacefulness came over her as she held my hand.
The next afternoon she passed away.
Today I sit here thinking about the last days of her life. I feel the warmth of her cats and I can see her smile. It’s as though she’s with me. I’m glad I promised her that I would keep her cats.
I’m married once again and my new wife doesn’t like cats. She’s constantly asking me to find another home for these animals.
But I must keep my promise. How could I not? We were soul mates.
Author: Pat St. Pierre
I am a freelance writer of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. My fiction;fiction has been published in a variety of places. Some of those places are: The Gardener's Gazette, The Writer's World, The Homesteader, Lutheran Parenting, Joyful, The Shine Journal, etc. My poetry has been published in such places as: The Camel Saloon, Boston Literary Review, Pond Ripples, Three Line Poetry, etc. My poetry book "Theater of Life" is available on Amazon.com. I am also an amateur photographer whose work can be seen at: Ken*Again, Southern Women's Review, Amaranthine Muses, The Camel Saloon, Ramshackle Review, Pond Ripples, The Shine Journal, etc. My blog is www.pstpierre.wordpress.com.