The Bearded One lifts the empty box Nala came in from the back seat and I shoulder my purse and grab the gallon ziplock bag of my chocolate chip cookies and we head into the veterinarian’s house, which is just another house in our immense subdivision here in Puna, Hawaii. I am a nervous wreck.
Our 8-month-old kitty was spayed today and we’re here to pick her up. I feel like a new mother these days (at age 58) with this new kitty around to nurture. Maybe once engaged, mothering never ends. Besides, everywhere we go there are babies.
* * *
Earlier in the day, our older daughter called to ask for my chocolate chip cookie recipe. She and her husband, the Captain, are having a baby in July which will be the Bearded One’s and my first grandchild and we are over the moon.
Right now they are nesting. The Captain is gardening and working a city job and won’t be fishing this year, and our daughter wants to bake cookies. I tell her I’ll email the recipe. I tell her the story of Nala getting spayed today, how nervous I was, and then I tell her again I will be there for her, that I will fly to Seattle when she comes home from the hospital.
“We’ve decided not to find out the sex,” she says. This is a change. For weeks she’s wanted to know.
“Remember when you were a kid how we used to check the cookie bottoms to see if they were boys or girls?” I ask.
“Lift up the edge – burned bottoms are boys.”
She is appalled.
* * *
Nala is heavily drugged. She can’t walk a straight line.
She is helpless and needs to be somewhat contained, and can’t go outside for a day or two. The doctor says she did great in surgery. He is an older white guy with wire-rimmed glasses, sneakers and a sweet smile. I thank him and hand over the bag of cookies.
* * *
We get Nala home and settled in a barricaded area downstairs, and when she is sound asleep, we decide to go to the beach, as we often do, to watch for whales. Sure enough, there are several fins and spouts a ways out, so we hang around for a while and watch. Humpback whales come to Hawaii from Alaska in the winter to birth their young.
The pod moves across the horizon from left to right. Everyone points and shouts when we see a spout, and then we see an extra big spray and a smallish humpback baby breeches for all to see.
“The Boy Spouts of America!” says the Bearded One and everyone laughs.
* * *
At home, Nala is missing. We walk in the front door and the barricaded corner is empty. The box she came in is pushed aside, and it is clear she escaped. But where? No way she could have handled the stairs yet. We call her name. Nothing. We search the entire bottom floor, all her favorite places.
Behind the stove and fridge, on the towel shelf —
— in the bathtub, on the suitcase in the guest room closet, under the stairs. No Nala.
I race upstairs, even though it’s impossible that drunken kitty could be up here. I am frantic.
But there she is. Asleep under the bed, on my side. “There you are,” I say softly.
“Mew,” she says, and goes back to sleep.