Ben? Come on, Ben!
I was at the back steps, calling more or less in the direction of Grace's next door - he goes over there once in a while, and comes quacking back across the hedge when I call him home. But Ben was oddly absent from this morning's breakfast - ordinarily, he begins at 6:30 sharp to hurl himself against the bedroom door, raking it with his claws on his way back down to the floor. And I was sure nobody ad let him out in the middle of the night. At least, I think I was sure. Anything can happen, though.
But now here he is, after all my disturbing of the neighborhood's peace, inexplicably curled up on the bench beside the window. How did you get up here? I ask him. Didn't you want your breakfast? It's the most important meal of the day, you know. He makes no reply, but gets down from the bench and up on the bed with me and his brother. He walks across the keyboard of my laptop to type his response, which is dertf555555555555555555554. He takes his accustomed place beside Santana, and resumes his nap. They now occupy three quarters of the bed's width, leaving me a precarious purchase on one edge of the mattress. I suffer this gladly.
For an hour or so, I had been trying not to think about a life without Ben. About Santi looking all over the house in vain for his brother to come and groom him, to curl up with him afterwards, yin-yang style. About the complete absence of quacking in this house. About the rug sculptures he makes in the upstairs hall, while waiting for us to get up. Without Ben around, the rugs would lie flat all day, I guess.
I don't know why I love him so -- he's an absolute pest, noisy and destructive of the upholstery, as bit bullying with the girl cats, even now. But I adore Ben. There is something magical about those who demand much of our patience: we become used to caring for them in spite of their faults, and we end up missing the faults themselves when they leave us.
For now, Ben is back. But one day we will go our separate ways, one of us to Jesus and one to remain here for a bit longer. Who is to say which of us first, and who is to say when?
Saturday, September 19 Quiet Day at St. Philips, Durham., NC Barbara Crafton is retreat leader, and preaches on Sunday. Visit http://www.stphilipsdurham.org/ to register for the quiet Day or call 919-682-5708.
September 25-27 St. Mark's Palo Alto Parish Retreat at the Bishop's Ranch. Saturday morning for St. Mark's parishioners, but the afternoon is open the the rest of the diocese. Get information at www.saint-marks.com or call 650-326-3800.
October 10-11 St. Thomas the Apostle, Nassau Bay (Houston)TX Learn more at http://www.stthomasepiscopalchurch.org/staec/home