Thursday, August 20, 2009

I woke at 10:15PM on the couch last night and thought I can still sleep a bit more here and get up to bed at a reasonable time without Mrs. Ditchman chiding me for it. She'll just think I'm watching tv. Woke again at 2:00AM and went upstairs.

Brushed my teeth, climbed into bed, and laid there for a moment wondering why I was too tired to bring myself up to bed in the first place. It was colder upstairs, oddly. I think the window in the bathroom was open, as well as some window elsewhere, and this causes a nice midsummer draft through the house all night. I like it. I prefer the outside smells to the inside ones, especially in August. Tonight, however, it was a bit colder. The June gloom is still hanging on, and the warm, monsoonal moisture of the southland has so far this year been a no-show.

So I'm laying there, figuring I've got about a minute and a half to consider a polite prayer before I drift off to sleep. I opt out of the nightly kiss on my wife's pretty skin because of the hour, and just as I am about to boot down I hear, downstairs of my consciousness, the distinct sound of a cat's meow. It's Rocky, is the first thing in my head. My God, I swear that sounded like Rocky... And three seconds later Mrs. Ditchman rolls over, "I just heard Rocky," she says, wide awake.

My soul clipped a hurdle in the nether world, like some small backfire of faith. Dammit, I think, I didn't imagine it. And then I turn to Mrs. Ditchman and lie, "You heard Rocky? That's crazy," and I roll over facing the other way, thinking about how we buried him out there in the yard just a few months ago, just a few feet away. "It was Rocky," she confirmed. At 2:08 AM.

My mind began to burn the night oil and I knew now I'd never get to sleep. What seems to have been the problem, Rocky? Did we not bury you properly? Oh my God, did we euthanize you too soon? Why have you returned? Do you have unfinished business? I found myself feeling guilty that he had to return, just shy of his feline paradise.

The cat. The cat! Your cat! Why would you have any fear about this? But there are unknown, unexplained things, and they can put fear in the hearts of the ignorant and the faithless. I spent the next twenty minutes considering it, and worrying about the kids down the hall. I wondered if ghost cats could hurt children, and how I would explain the spectral presence of the cat Mommy had for nearly twenty years, and then put to sleep. But not really...

When we got up this morning I admitted to Mrs. Ditchman that I had, in fact, heard the unmistakable meow, too. I wanted to ask her about it -ask her if she thought that it was distinctly Rocky. She said that it was, but I bravely dismissed that there are a number of cats in the neighborhood that prowl around at night, looking for trouble and picking fights with the local raccoons. Then I remembered how Rocky always got up around 2AM, after sleeping nineteen hours of the day, and how he would meow loudly in the middle of the night at his empty water dish or some randomly closed door -it became more irritating after the kids were born, when we were more tired from the constant tending to them. I'm here, Rocky would meow out of the dark. Stop forgetting about me.

Do I believe in ghosts? Not really, but neither am I prepared to disprove their presence. One thing I do know: if we are loved, (and perhaps even if we are not) then when we are gone our old life will make every bit the impression it did when we were here, if not moreso. A dead spouse, a dead parent, or a dead pet, for example, can have more influence, more presence, and instill more small terror, than the living can on any given day right there in the middle of your living room.