In the night, something plops on my stomach: Noodle is here. She has yet to reach a weight of two pounds, so you don't feel much when she lands on you. She strolls up and down and along the hills Q and I make under the covers until she finds just the right spot between us in which to lie, and then she settles down to sleep.
She is ready to play again at about five. Mostly, she plays "Crouch and Pounce," crouching like her tiger forebears and then pouncing at nothing much: a shoulder, an exposed finger, a lock of somebody's hair, which she then bites and bites until she is swatted away.
She was missing the other evening. Desperate to go outside, she attempts to sneak out every time the door is open. Did she make it, and we didn't see her? I always look. She's too little to go outside, too small. Hasn't had her rabies shot yet because you have to weigh two pounds to have one. She'll get lost because she hasn't had enough tutelage from the other cats about staying in her own yard. My Noodle. My little Noo. The other three all sense my concern and gather around. Go find Noodle, I tell them, and they really do slink off in three different directions. But then they forget their orders. Or maybe there's nothing to find.
Q slips through the hedge into our neighbor's yard to go and ask if they've seen Noodle. They are not at home. The woman across the street catches sight of him coming through the hedge in the dark, a silver-haired man in dark jeans, and calls the police, thinking he's a prowler. Two of Metuchen's finest appear with flashlights and apprehend Q, who gives them a description of Noodle and asks for the feline equivalent of an All Points Bulletin.
Of course, Noodle isn't missing. Never was. Saunters out when Q comes in from his brush with the law and greets him at the bottom of the stairs., He carries her up to me in the dark and plops her on the bed, where I have been holding my cross and praying for her. I bury my face in her soft kitten fur and give thanks that she didn't sneak out, didn't run away, didn't get lost and scared, didn't get hit by a car. All the bad things that could have happened didn't happen, not this time.
Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't. We never know about the bad things, when they will come and when they will stay away. We pray about them when we are frightened, and give thanks when we are spared. We feel as if we are entitled to the good, that the bad is an outrageous violation of our rights, when in fact we are entitled to neither. Good and bad fall into our lives pretty much at random. At this we rebel, and embroider many religious reasons why it can't be so. But it is: the suns shines on the just and on the unjust.
Count your blessings. There's no need to count your sorrows -- their power to sadden you is strong enough already. But neither of them is yours to keep, and both will be over soon enough.