Yesterday morning one of my neighbors came by, frantically searching for her lost cat.
Zorba was a sleek, elegant, powerhouse of a black cat. He became the neighbors' cat about a decade ago only because he deigned to consume the meals they left out for him. Most of the time he prowled the block, streaking into the underbrush if a human being came too close.
When our Kitty, a much older and less physically impressive feline, was alive, Zorba exhibited the only humility we ever observed him demonstrate, by sitting respectfully in our drive while Kitty ruled from his perch on the top of our car.
Alas, Zorba is in the final stages of bone cancer. He now sleeps indoors, and comes out only for a hobble on a leash. But yesterday he zipped out of sight. He was eventually discovered freed of his leash and crouched under his back porch, as I had thought he might be.
But not before the tearful scene on my front porch, during which my neighbor wailed that she was going to kill herself ~ and then glanced away to recover for a moment before looking at me and saying, "I'm so sorry. I'm not myself at all."
She called a little later, to say that Zorba was asleep at home and to apologize profusely, several times. "I know it's not the same," she said. "But we don't have any children, and that cat . . ".
I assured her that it was all right. "He's a lovely cat," I said, "and I know this is breaking your heart."
Our Tipper the Dog is fifteen, and enduring many ailments of her own. Not cancer, yet, although we thought that might be the case a few weeks ago. I will miss her terribly when she's gone, but I know that such is inevitable, and much sooner rather than later.
However, I find that I am very clear that it. is. not. the. same.