The way sound carries on clear nights makes the house seem very small, and surrounded by immense vacancy. I prefer the chirping of the crickets nestled among blades of grass or clumps of other ground-hugging plants. They draw the soft night close, wrapping it around the house like a big comforter.
Early this morning, the cat left the living room chair in which she had slept for the better part of two days and came into my room and slept on the bed. In the afternoon, she went outdoors for a few minutes. In her weakened state, I didn't want her out alone so I remained with her as she nibbled a bit of grass and then hobbled to a sunny spot at the end of the walk where she sat for a few minutes watching the birds. Then she came back in and, after another nap, had a half hour of lap time. She didn't sleep while being petted, but gazed at various spots in the room as though in rapt attention to something which I couldn't see. Once she had her fill of petting and purring, she hopped down and went to her old favorite spot in the closet, where she now continues to nap. While she remains obviously weak, and took only a few licks at the bowl of cat food I gave her, she seemed to enjoy her brief outdoor adventure and the bit of attention she received.
Now, with her sleeping out of sight, and the younger cat out enjoying the pleasant spring night, I am again left with only the sound of the crickets, the passing cars and the scratching of my pencil for company. In a while, my mother will wake and need tending to, and her middle-of-the-night meal, but this moment I have the house to myself. I just went to put some laundry in the dryer, and as I traversed the silent rooms the thought that came to mind was that the place is full of empty spots where once there were cats. There have been six cats in this house altogether, as many as five of them at one time. As I returned to my room, I noted their favorite napping spots and play areas, the places where they once crowded around their food bowls and water dishes, the window sills where they sunned themselves and watched the passing days and nights, the doors at which they patiently waited to be let out. Soon, I know, there will be only the one cat left to enliven all that space. I don't think I've ever felt the place so empty.