Yesterday, I was sitting on the fireplace ledge, putting on my tennis shoes as I was getting ready to go for a walk. Scout was nearby, playing on her turbo-scratcher toy. She is our sightless cat, so we spend a lot of time encouraging her, saying things like, “Get it, Scoutie. You know where it is.” And she almost always finds whatever “it” is — a crinkleball, a mousie toy, the rubber drain cover that she steals from the bathroom.
Watching her out of the corner of my eye while tying my laces, I could see she was struggling to find the ball in the turbo-scratcher. She stretched out her left paw, feeling along the track. Before I knew it, I had a lump in my throat, a pang, tears welled up. Usually, I try to dismiss her blindness as unimportant, barely consequential, focusing instead on the things she is able to accomplish with little help from us. But this one moment (and my husband and I call it “having a moment” — whether we are awash in gratitude or sorrow, it is “a moment”), this moment, I let my guard down and my heart broke a sliver, knowing that she couldn’t see the ball on the track.
Her world is experienced through tentative paws softly tapping to make sure the ground ahead is solid, predictable, trustworthy. Her whiskers find the edges of things — the wall, a toy, the kitchen cabinets, the bathtub. She listens for footsteps and other meows, voices and music, motored monsters and buzzy, winged things. Her nose is the focal point of her face — absent beautiful cat eyes, your attention is drawn instantly to the pink smudge of cuteness–and it fills in the details of her day. She bobs her nose in the air, sniffing food, the other cats, my pants, husband’s boots, the rain, the tulips my husband brings me.
I imagine my little heartbreak was akin to watching your daughter miss the game-changing catch at a softball game. You can’t bear to see her disappointment in herself, her pained attempts at hiding embarrassment, the temples of her forehead holding back tears.
And more…wanting her to see how beautiful she is and how beauty follows her. I know I’m writing about a cat, and that there is no scientific evidence that cats can know beauty or even feel sorrow, let alone understand how I feel about them.
Still. I wish she could see my face. I wish she could see my husband laugh. I wish she could see the ball on the turbo-scratcher and how it whizzes by when she gives it a south-paw whack.
Here’s a sentimental video of the little girl from when I first found her and over the next eight months of her kittenhood.–from horrible eye infection to eyes removed, you can see she didn’t miss a beat.