This morning at breakfast Richard said, quietly, and in passing, "I still miss Rebecca.". He noted that he had gone to get some new rechargeable batteries, and the drawer where we keep batteries is the same drawer we kept her food bowl, back when we'd been trying the special kidney diet. The bowl is still there - still full of food. Just one more little reminder we forgot existed, until it jumps up to smack us in the face.
I am still having a hard time saying that I only have six cats. I have had seven cats for so many years that six sounds just wrong. It's not that either of us has any need to go out and get a new kitten just to bring the number back to seven either. It's that the 'six' sounds wrong because she's not a part of it any more.
Six is a good number. It's an even number. When I put down wet food on two plates, three cats fit perfectly around each one. Six cats don't take up as much room on the bed as seven. Six cats are easier to list when signing Christmas cards for the yearly card exchange with other members of the Cyberkat email group. But six is not the number that is supposed to be.
The other cats have, over the past two months, slowly been taking over some of Rebecca's places. Allegra curls into my elbow at night, and sometimes stomps on my head, and will jump up on the counter and yell at me if I'm not getting the food out fast enough, just like Rebecca used to do. Rosemary sometimes jumps into the shelf where I keep my pants and burrows into them, just like Rebecca used to do. Zucchini has taken on the role of hairball hacker extraordinaire with what seems to be almost pride. But it just isn't the same.
I know that eventually I won't keep finding all the little reminders because eventually we will clear them all away. And I know that eventually I will look out at the flower bed in the backyard and think of something else besides a tiny little box buried deep inside, with a tiny little cat inside.
But I still miss her. I miss the number seven. And I wish we didn't have to get used to anything else.