Tuesday, June 09, 2009

custodial

After almost two years, I get Gandalf back on Thursday. I went into Petsmart today to kit her out and realized all of the things I have carefully closeted away in her absence. I have not, not once, stepped foot in a pet store and the scent of it as soon as I walked in the door was both wonderfully and horribly familiar. As I walked the aisles, it hit me: I get to go back. I get to be one of them again. Smiling, I rolled words around my mouth that I have not uttered, even in a whisper, since she left. Her name, and her pet names. Silly things that used to make me smile. I lifted them carefully from the places where I had stored them. I peeled back the tissue paper of dusty memories and held them in my hands. I said, "hello".

Gandalf won't be living with me -- I still have a landlord who is violently, deathly, allergic to cats. She will continue to live with my parents, but they are moving to Chilliwack next week. And in their benevolence, they have decided to bring her with them. As I was driving home tonight with a trunk full of cat paraphernalia and my first ever guilt purchase -- a fur-lined cat bed -- sitting on the seat beside me I had a moment of insight. What on earth must it be like to be a non-custodial parent?

I remember the day I realized that Gandalf could not come with me. In a fit of melodrama I lay face down on my bed and cried my eyes out. And she is only a cat. True she's my cat, and I do love her, but she is only a cat. She's not a person. Dear God in heaven, what must it be like to put your child on a plane and send them to the other parent? Do they have places they cannot go because it hurts too much? Do they have a whole vocabulary that gets stored away until the blessed day when they are custodial once again? Sending a cat away is only the barest shadow of what it must feel like to live without a child. I said a prayer tonight for all the parents, thousands of them, who have to live in half a world, with half a heart while the beating half of it lives away from them. I wish that no one ever had to know what that feels like.

Custodial is such a wonderful word. And come Thursday I can say two more delicious words, "welcome home".

2 comments:

Monky said...

I'm so excited for you! Welcome back to the world of insanity that is petdom! With all the fun shopping, don't forget a good brush. I took a huge fistful of hair off of Mr. K yesterday - and there's more where that came from. Welcome summer!

Mom & Dad Colvin said...

Hi Claire

Just to let you know that Gandalf is still her youthful fun loving self. With all the packing up we have been doing she has been even more affectionate than usual. And now she has perched herself next to me as I write this comment. No doubt in a couple of minutes she will attempt to sit on my lap which because I am writing this note on a lap top means that suddenly all control of the computer will completely disappear.

Oops xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

See what I mean!

Don't worry she'll be with you tomorrow.

Lots of love
Dad xx