The cat lived a while then it died, the whole thing about cats living nine lives being more about survival while alive than rising from the dead. We were eating fish and green beans at the time, the mundane things being the ones you remember when a living creature who is beloved dies. Cheryl had been longer than usual coming home, which I suppose had been more usual lately, which I probably should have picked up on as having less to do with working more and more to do with us working less. Maybe the cat had noticed and decided to check out before the dishes started breaking.
Burying the cat was the last funeral we attended together. It was a few weeks before the last Thanksgiving we had together, and another month before the Christmas she was out of town. She'd been out of town for Christmas before, but this was more unusual because she didn't come back. I was left with an empty house and the somewhat fresh grave of a cat, which had to be dug again when the first rain came and washed away the loose topsoil. It wasn't even my cat.
All that remained of what had been were photos and a blanket embroidered with our names. I stayed until after the silence drove me mad, maybe one or two days too late. Then I took the few things I had left and moved on. There would be other cats, perhaps; but there would always be one Cheryl.