In November 2012, I put Mom and her best friend Pia Roma in separate prisons.
Pia went to the friend of a friend’s where she hid under the sofa in a cigarette-smoke-filled apartment for a month. My friend rescued Pia from her friend’s, but that didn’t help. Pia hid under my friend’s bed for another month until I rescued her again.
I didn’t want a cat. Just like I hadn’t wanted to return to Canada to care for Mom in 2011. But I couldn’t bear for helpless Pia who, in Mom’s words, was her “best friend” to live under a sofa or a bed for the rest of her life. So when I decided I needed to stay close to Mom instead of restarting my old life in a new way, I rented a house near the nursing home I would come to call “ElderJail,” and I brought Pia Roma to live with me.
I succeeded in rescuing Pia, but I failed to liberate my mom.
Since then, Pia has accompanied me through ups and downs, never saying anything but “meow” (like Zlateh the Goat said nothing but “maaaaaaa”), or purring loudly, and sharing my morning tea as she often did with Mom, which I captured on video on December 28, 2009, and aptly title “the paws that refreshes.”
Pia is getting old now, and will soon join Mom. I will be devastated when she goes. It can be painful to grieve the loss of those we love, but it’s also normal. For me, grief (and tonnes of other stuff) involves lots of tears.
But none of us should die before we’re dead, and so, in the meantime, Pia and I paws frequently to count our blessings. We hope you do too. We also invite you to remember that, even in prison, there is space between the bars.