When I studied abroad in college, I regularly received emails from my cat Darcy. She’d update me on her life at home with my parents, my sister, and the other cats and dogs. She’d talk about how much she missed me and marvel at my adventures through Central Europe. For a long time, I was under the impression that my dad sent these emails on behalf of Darcy. It wasn’t until years later when I was talking to my mom about how clever my dad was for dispatching them that she exclaimed back, “I sent those!”
“Toes is proud of you.” I received this text on Friday, a couple of days before my marathon. I was busy when it came through my phone, and again I falsely assumed the message was from my dad. But this time I realized my mistake within a couple of hours when I reread the text.
On Saturday, my mom surprised me by showing up in Atlanta with my aunt, who I knew was coming to cheer me on in the marathon. They’d driven down to Pigeon Forge from Cincinnati the day before to break up the drive.
“You weren’t even with Toes when you texted me,” I said to my mom later on Saturday evening. “How could you know she was proud of me?”
“She was. She is,” my mom assured me.
It’s funny how much I want that to be true even though there’s no way Toes could know about my marathon and why I decided to leave her in Cincinnati. Similarly, when I was in college, I wanted my cat Darcy to understand why I wasn’t living at home anymore and to be proud of the risks I was taking to discover the world.
“You think cats are a lot more complicated than they really are.”
Another aunt said this to me during my last visit to Cincinnati in response to a statement I’d made about how much Toes probably missed me while she was staying with my parents.
My aunt is right, but at the same time, I know I find comfort in attributing complex narratives to cats. It’s as if they are an extension of me–a way of viewing myself and my actions from the outside and making peace with them.
Toes may not have known that I was running a marathon on Sunday but believing she wanted me to succeed (and thus believing in myself) helped me cross the finish line.