As I begin to squeegee the shower door, I look out at the black and white furry mass curled up on the bath mat. She stares resolutely at the glistening wet walls surrounding me. Cautiously, I open the door.
"Come on, Emma. Move," I urge gently.
She doesn't budge. In fact, she pretends she didn't hear me. I'm left with no other alternative but to step over her and pray that I can land my foot on the one square inch of bath mat she has left me.
Once dried and dressed, I stand in front of the mirror to put on make-up and dry my hair. Behind me, Emma remains, still gazing determinedly at the shower. Which is kind of crazy because Emma is a cat, and no self-respecting cat likes water. Clearly, Emma has nothing but disdain for stereotypes. My mom used to laugh about how Emma would follow her into the shower. Being wheelchair accessible, my mom's shower had been closed off only by a curtain, the perfect set-up for this water-loving cat.
Emma's odd, cat-defying behavior brought my mom joy. Now, it saddens me as I ponder what might be going through her mind as she lies there with her head resting on her front paws, staring dejectedly into space. Is she waiting to be let in, or is she waiting for my mom? Does she think each time she hears the shower start that she will find her and experience heart-crushing disappointment when she doesn't?
How strange it must be for her, plucked from the familiar and placed here where everything is so different. Here, glass doors shut her out from where she wants to be. Here, she is left alone for hours at a time. Here, people rush about instead of rolling slowly from one place to another. Here, no one calls out in a loving, sing-song voice, "Emma is such a pretty girl," while reaching over to pet her wide body. And while we do pet her and talk to her, I'm sure it's not the same.
It's not the same.
Because even though we were both there when my mom took her final breaths -- Emma, curled up at the foot of her bed, and I, standing at the side -- we both still wait. Wait to hear that loving voice. Wait to feel the reassurance of her hand reaching out for us. Wait for the life we used to know to return.