It’s 4 a.m., and I’m wide awake. I went to bed at a reasonable hour—a little before midnight—and was almost asleep when the cat started raising a fuss. There didn’t seem to be any particular reason for all the noise he was making; he sat in the hallway, talking to whomever would listen.

Once I was sure he was just talking and not in dire need of help, I started to fall back asleep.

Then a rustling sound came from near the dresser. It wasn’t the cat, I was sure of that because he was still down the hall, having one of the best conversations of his life. I turned on the light, sighed hard and climbed out of bed, and looked for the source of the noise.

It stopped before I got to that side of the room.

Again, I climbed back in bed and was –this- close to falling asleep, when I felt a thunk at the end of the bed. I waited for the weight of the cat to land on me, but when that didn’t happen, I lifted my head and listened; he was still down the hall engaged in his peculiar one sided conversation.

I gave up, turned the light back on, and picked up a book. I started it at 1:50 a.m. and finished it half an hour ago. Normally I’d be irritated as hell about not being able to sleep, but I wasn’t. I actually enjoyed the quiet—once the cat shut up—and enjoyed the book, something I picked up on a whim today. It was one of those impulse buys, guided by a little voice in the back of my head that said quite clearly, “You’ll love this. It will make you cry and you won’t even mind.”

It did.
And I didn’t.
Mind it, that is.

I felt the thunk at the end of the bed again, and it hit me. It hit me hard, and it overwhelmed me for a moment, but I did not cry. In fact, it made me smile.

The last time I felt that thunk was around 1 or 2 in the morning, December 29, 2001. I was mostly asleep then, too, but woke with a startled gasp of “Moe!” and then laid there, knowing what I didn’t want to know, trying not to cry, hoping I was wrong.

But I wasn’t.

One of my most treasured friends, Moe Brennan, had passed away early that morning. There’s part of me that knows the thunk was her, and part of me that knows I was expecting her death, and have just tied the two things together in my mind. Yet I felt the thunk tonight—this morning—and can’t help but believe that wonderful soul, who loved animals as much as I love my psychotic little furball, got the cat all riled up, and then took a swift kick to the foot of my bed, just to get my attention.

Yeah, I know, Max tends to “sing” a lot during the wee hours of the morning. But there’s very nearly always a purpose to it, and he does it in specific places: the bathroom, the foot of the bed, the bedroom door, just out of reach of the squirt bottle. He never just stands in the hallway to talk to himself. When he sings, he never sounds quite as content as he did a few hours ago. As content as he sounds when someone is doing exactly what he wants—scratching under the collar he hates, talking softly to him when he feels like talking back, offering him crunchy treats or better yet, cut up pieces of fresh shrimp.

The thunk could have been me, startling myself awake. The book could have been something I’d heard about before, tucking away the information in the back of my mind, filtering out in the bookstore I had never wandered into before, had never wanted to go into before.

Those would be the rational explanations.

But in the middle of the night, fueled by no sleep and several chocolate covered way too tiny donuts, I don’t think so. I don’t think there is a rational explanation the urge to wander into that particular bookstore, for my cat talking calmly to himself, for the thunk at the end of the bed, for not being irritated at the lack of sleep, especially when the Spouse Thingy has tomorrow off and if I’m well rested, we can go do something.

No, in the middle of the night, I know it’s Moe. I want it to be Moe. And it makes me smile because I know she’s still out there somewhere, somehow, making sure those of us who loved her will never forget her—as if we could—and making sure her sense of humor shines through while she sets about her sly reminders.

There are some people who come into your life and make themselves so welcome and so wanted that when they’re gone, they leave tiny footprints on your heart and on your soul, and while you miss them terribly, you’re just so grateful for having had the chance to know them at all. They leave behind pieces of themselves, yet seem all the more whole for it.

I still miss Moe. I think I always will. But I am so glad that she was a part of my life, even for a brief time.

I will not cry.
I will not mourn today.
I will just be grateful, and give thanks that she touched my life.

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