There is a stray cat prowling my neighborhood, desperately in the throes of a reproductive cycle that it cannot understand or control. I've listened to to it - shrieking unseen for the baby it know it wants but can't find a way to create - for over a week now, and I keep silently whispering to it, "Sister, I know."
This morning, that cat was in my house.
Before it was time for the light of dawn to nudge us out of sleep, it began. It wasn't merely thunder somewhere in the sky, the air itself became the raucous clapping of the gods and slammed into us and around us and through us and shook each of the bricks that make up the house while the floodgates of heaven opened up and attempted to drown the city in its sleep.
My children let the cat in, to save it from the rain. Not for a moment did they think about their allergies, or their dogs, or anything other than the fact that the cat was screaming and they were not.
This is how it begins, for people like us.
And then the sky screamed us awake and the dogs screamed themselves dominate and the cat screamed itself free and tore the chest of the child trying to save it wide open and none of this is coincidence.
We puttered about in the darkness of morning, listening to air screaming from pressure it cannot understand or control. I made the coffee and ironed a shirt while they ate their cereal and he trimmed his beard. We have never had a morning like this, not ever once in the thirteen years and eight months and twenty five days since we have been an us.
We put medicine on the tears in his chest, to stop the hives which always follow, and I reminded him that not everything wants to be saved, and sometimes the only choice is to let go. He smiled the way children almost never smile at you once they are old enough to believe in a different god, the way I never once smiled at her.
quiet in so much chaos. Exactly like I had wished for this day, twenty times over.
I watched the flood warnings and tornado sightings and tried to find words that I am certain do not exist and then my glasses broke in half right here in my hand and as soon as I couldn't see it anymore, I could feel it.
All of it.
I can feel.
something other than the cold on my face when I walked out of that door, the cramps in my legs from crouching in a phone booth, hiding for hours, the pressure on my chest when the plane took off and the hollow space left in its wake when I landed 2000 miles away from the last moment I will have ever seen my mother's face.
Twenty todays later so many things matter more than everything I didn't get to know that about the woman inside of my mother. Twenty todays later she may be screaming over my head or shrieking at my backdoor or shaking the walls around me but we are inside here, together, and I am letting her go.
The boarding pass that I kept, inexplicably, all of these twenty years is here.