A Visit from the Cat Man
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Freedom .
“You should meet my son,” he says.
I’m meditating, and he surprises me. He’s an interesting man and an enjoyable conversationalist. He’s in his mid-60’s, and if I were a couple of decades older, I might even find him downright fascinating. He’s thin and not much taller than I am, with eyes that are aging but still quite lovely behind the squints as he smiles. He’s soft-spoken and calm, and there are facets of myself that I find in him. We’ve been talking about art and music and writing, about the passion they inspire, about the way they’re their own language that others might or might not understand.
But why he’s in my meditation, I’m not certain. A few nights ago, he showed up in a dream. I’ve never met this man on the physical plane.
“You should meet my son,” he says. “You’d love him.”
“How do you know?”
“Is he anything like you?”
“No. Younger.” He’s amused. He takes a seat opposite mine and loses his train of thought while he strokes the two cats that purr and twist around his ankles. They’re not my cats. I don’t have cats. He must have brought them with him. This is the first time he’s mentioned his son to me. “You would love him,” he says again.
“Then maybe you should tell your son to call me sometime.”
He looks suddenly serious. “I have. He’s terrified of having a relationship with you,” he says. Then he adds, “And terrified not to.”
I don’t understand. I don’t bite…hard. “Why would he be afraid of me?”
“Not of you. Of what you represent.”
“And what’s that?” And does this son of his even know enough about me to know what I represent?
“The freedom to be loved and still be himself.”
“And that’s terrifying to him? I would think that would be a wonderful thing.”
“What he’s terrified of,” the man says, scooping up a cat to pet it, “is screwing up something that good.”
“But your son…he wants to meet me in spite of his fears?”
“Then why doesn’t he?”
“I don’t know. He’s waiting.”
One of the cats sidles up to my ankle and pushes his head against the curve of my calf. I brush softly at his fur. He nuzzles my palm.
“Waiting for what? For me?”
“No. You’re done.”
“I’m done waiting?”
“No. Just done.”
“Done with what?” I pick up one of the cats but it curls this way and that and out of my arms. I can’t hold onto it.
“Healing.” He smiles. “Little things will always bubble up unexpectedly and catch you off-guard, but otherwise, you’re done with the hardest work. No one has to wait for you anymore. Not even my son.”
“Your son was waiting for me?”
“No. He was never waiting for you. You were always ahead of him.”
I shake my head. I don’t understand.
“He’s not ready yet,” the man tells me. “He’s still waiting. Waiting for….”
“Waiting for what?” Riddles. It’s all riddles. “What is he waiting for?”
I frown. Am I supposed to meet him at a picnic? Am I to invite him to a picnic on the beach? What?
“He’s waiting for it to be a picnic. For it to be easy. Then he’ll meet you.” He nods. “You’ll love him.”
“Will it ever be easy for him? Will it ever be a picnic?”
The man shrugs and picks up both cats in his arms. “Doubt it.” He rises to leave, but I stop him.
“What if he keeps waiting for it to get easy and it never does? Doesn’t he realize it may never be easier for him?”
“Yes,” he says. He walks into a misty darkness and is gone except for the lingering words, “That’s the problem.”
“Wait,” I call after him but only stillness answers. “Your son’s name. What’s his name? I’ll find him.”
“No.” It’s only a thought in the distance, but I hear it clearly. “That’s when he’ll know he’s ready, and when he knows he’s ready, that’s when he’ll find you.”
“Wait,” I call after him. “Wait! There’s got to be something more. What am I supposed to do with what you’ve told me?”
“Your job is to hold his place for him.” The voice is nothing more now than a fading thought. “His job is to find you.”