Jitterbug Blues


As I write this, I am taking a break. There is only so much search-and-rescue one can do without taking a break when one possesses joints the size of baseballs.

I’m grieving, and I haven’t even seen her yet. She’s there, somewhere in the house, her silence so very loud in my head. She was a mouthy one, that one, especially as the dementia crept over her, draping her in continual confusion, a fact she quite often vocally advertised.

The silence is so very, very loud.

She’s missed three meals; she’s never been a girl who would miss a meal. Despite the fogginess that surrounded her, she could never ignore the sound of a cat food can cracking open, its aluminum rim squeaking as the tab freed that nasty meat-like product.

When I called her, she’d holla back in her best Edith-Bunker voice, telling me she was pissed and that I needed to come. Come now. Bring your hair. I need to drool. Now.  Bring the food. Now. I need to eat. Now. Leave the dog. Dumbass. Now.

May would have been 17 years with her; over one-third of my life. Forty-point 46341463414634 per cent of my life.

Is that an irrational number? Hell, I don’t even know, but it would be fitting.  She never was that rational.

She wasn’t particularly beloved; I joked that the only reason I kept her around was because she had tenure. I know a lot of people don’t get cats. I am not sure that I particularly get cats. But I did get her.

A used-car salesman with a tail, the bitch jumped in my lap over and over when I found her at the Humane Society, forcing me to choose her. Tee-niney, and she quacked like a duck all the way home, only to ignore me except when I slept or had food.

My mother called her Satan.

From Arizona to Mississippi fish camp to post-Katrina camper, to our own house: her history was mine.

Jitterbug Blues: A Mostly True Memoir of Sorts. A fictionalized account of our history. Half finished, maybe even just a third, if that, at 17,916 words. I don’t know that I’ll finish it. I don’t know that I can finish it. I knew she was on borrowed time; I was rushing to get it finished, but between work and sleep and sickness, I fell behind.

I just ordered Dragon Dictation yesterday to see if it would speed up the process.

The only noise in the house is the dog’s nails as she click-click-clicks as she paces. Well, that and my occasional sniffle and wail.

I don’t remember the last time I saw her.

I’ve torn the house apart, dug in every nook and cranny, and I cannot find her. My mother came to help me move appliances and furniture.  I still cannot find her. Someone at work pointed out that I’ll definitely find her in a few days.

She was a bit less sympathetic than I would have liked.

I don’t remember the last time I saw her.  The yard is fenced; she was declawed. She couldn’t have gotten over the fence. The dog’s such a tattle-tale; every time the cat came even half-way out the back door, the dog was right there, bullying her into going inside.

Except for the weekend before last, when she napped in the sun as I wrote on the porch.

I just realized I’m using past tense with her.

What if she died this weekend, surrounded by the screaming that accompanied my discovering that I may have rheumatoid arthritis or gout or whatever in the most painful way possible? What if I drowned her out?

I don’t remember the last time I saw her.

Tomorrow I’ll begin a top to bottom ransacking of the house. Tomorrow I’ll  remember exactly when and where I saw her last.

Just not tonight.


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