It’s a little after 6am: the best time of the day, methinks. “It’s always darkest before dawn,” they say, which is true because even the faintest of grays or blues have yet to outline the treetops. It’s when they—the edges of things outside—start to glow that I’ll go take care of the donkeys and ducks, but until then, my mornings look like this:
5:15am, alarm sounds. I grab sweat pants that I’ve laid out at the end of the bed and as I pull them on, my inside cat begins to weave in a figure 8 around my ankles. I tie the waistband string in a bow, slide my cold feet into beat-up house slippers, and head to the hallway where my old, blind dog is already awake, ready for breakfast.
It’s about 5:17 now and his senior-dog-formulated food is poured, followed by the cat’s in her special closet and that’s when I start the coffee maker (or ensure I have enough leftover coffee from the day before to heat up in the microwave in a little while—this is a practice that I’m heavily criticized for by fellow coffee lovers but…*shrug*…it’s just a thing from which I cannot stray).
By 5:20, I’m in the spare room doing a handful of gentle stretches—I hesitate to call it ‘yoga’ although I learned many of the poses in my yogic practices—that mostly consist of movements that help my hips wake up as well as my spine and neck.
It’s typically 5:40-5:50 when I’m done with those and that’s when I pour my coffee, mix in creamer, and sit in my spot in the living room. I peer into the darkness now, the windows open to a black, darkest-before-dawn and it’s so, so quiet. The silence breaks only when the cat lets out a small “mew” as she jumps in my lap to knead bread on my thigh followed by my old dog slowly making his way to the couch, still licking his lips from breakfast.
He stops at my feet before climbing precariously onto the couch. With my left hand scratching the top of the cat’s head, I reach down with my right to do the same for the dog. Both of them hold still, their eyes not quite closed but certainly not open.
This goes on until 6:15ish which is where this short story picks up and turns cheesy:
I audibly say thank you to my cat and my dog. As the darkness becomes darker and my anxiety of what today might bring increases, the cat purrs and the dog leans and I am not alone. I’m so grateful for that.
When I think of it, I’m never alone because by choice, these two critters follow me around in one way or another all day, and when I’m outside, it’s the same with my donkeys and sometimes, if they’re in the mood, my ducks.
It feels silly—cheesy even—to admit that I thanked my animals audibly this morning. It feels like one of those posts that someone would share on social media of some stock photo of a pretty girl sitting on a dock by the lake during a sunset with her golden retriever and a calligraphy caption that says, “our best friends have four feet” or whatever…but my god on high, I thanked them audibly.
…because things are hard. They just are. I can’t think of a single person in my life who isn’t going through *something* right now. I don’t like to compare because if you drown at 2 inches or at 70 feet, you’ve drowned either way (I’ve said this before, I know).
But as hard as things have been…are…may become…a cat purrs in my lap and a dog leans on me before the rest of the world wakes up. My legs are warm and I can hear (even feel) the rise and fall of their breath which shares the same air as mine.
Thank you for always being here.
And then it’s 6:39 and somehow without me noticing, a blue-gray pattern has appeared between the branches. A bird sings and before I can finish the last sip of my coffee, Bunny, my 20 year old donkey, brays followed by the younger two.
But thank you. Audibly I say it, thank you for being here.
You too, reader. Thank you for being here.