Hiccups and Heartbeats


Jerzy has been visiting me in my dreams lately. And they are so vivid. I can feel her fur. She leans her head into my hand, in that way that she did, and in the dream, I know that she is dead, and that I am dreaming, but still, we spend time to say hi. Or maybe she’s jealous. Staking that “first love” claim over my heart. Because, now I got a kitten.

“Now, listen up, girl. You were the cat’s meow; my soulmate sidekick for so long, but the truth is, I needed something fuzzy in my life, and so I adopted a runt kitten, who I named Matilda. You’d like her. Or maybe you’d eat her.”

I had a cat once in college. And it was a cat possessed by Lucifer, himself. That Pet Sematary cat. Enough cat to swear you off of cats for life.

But Matilda. She is a cat of a different color. A calico sweetheart that weighed 1.4 pounds when I brought her home. A teeny-tiny runt of a kitten, who for the first month of her life with me, only wanted to bury herself as deep into the crook of my neck as possible. All she wants to do is cuddle.

Watching this tiny little baby kitten navigate such a big, bold world, which is only the loft of my apartment, but for all I know, for her, might be the Universe. She is getting bigger day-by-day. And it’s come to my attention, which is only 8 months too late, is that my sister is having a baby.

I was unsupportive at first. Shell-shocked was more apropos. I’m pretty sure I politely excused myself from the family table, downed my glass of wine, and then drove home sobbing dangerously, while lamenting on the phone to my best and oldest friend, Kristian. Ask him.

I rebelled against pink shit, and I walked out of the room when baby clothes took the stage. The oohs and aahs were irritating and spoke to something scared and selfish.

A new business and five months in, and we got a newborn on our hands?    

Or something deeper:

“What if it’s never me?”

But there’s something about Matilda that reminds me, “Holy shit. We got a newborn on our hands.”

Newly born.

Experiencing everything for the first and only time. All of the world and the wonder, and the discovery laid out before her. Big and new.  So, soak it up.

I’m going to be an aunt, but more importantly, my sister is going to be a mom. And I’m pretty sure it’s a game-changer when you get that title.

This kid is going to be part of the fabric of our family…for life. Whatever all of that unchartered territory entails….Sure, there’s the obvious family dinners and holidays. But there’s also the days when my sister just needs a nap, and I get to strap on this little person and take her for a walk. Seeing it all through her eyes.  There will be bedtime stories, and camping trips, and homework. First steps and wiggly teeth. And magic. Magic that only little-person perspective provides.

We somehow assembled the village just in time. Somehow, the whole family ended up on the same coast at the same time, and now there’s this baby.

Riley Ava is her name. And she is coming soon.

And for better or worse, I’m gonna aunt the shit out of this kid.



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