by Jenny Bienemann
not the kind for whom
you will need to clean the house
before they come in
also not the kind
that you will worry about
worrying too much
not the kind that lives to help
not right now, at least
only those who speak
the language of your silence
keep you company
those who need nothing
who only want you to know
you are not alone
who’d take off their shoes
and tiptoe over to you
squeeze your hand, then leave
shutting your door tight
switching on their porch light, just
so you'll know they're there
who then return to
the fullness of their own lives
trusting your process
that’s good company
the kind that makes you better
when you don't feel well
* _____ * _____ * _____ * _____ *
Robin and I were both home sick and working remotely this week.
Tristan, who usually presses his lanky frame against my husband’s leg all day while he works, had chosen instead to cast himself down upon the cool hardwood floor and stretch himself to maximum extension.
Because Tristan is getting older, he is on a variety of medications that seem to do a reasonable job of getting him to think that he is not every inch of the fifteen years he actually is, or at least, hopefully, keeping him feeling well and in high enough spirits to jump on the table and toss back the delicious gourmet cat food that Robin orders for him.
But in the heat, with both of us home during weekdays, it became clear that Tristan needed something. A little extra something. And what did that turn out to be? Company.
Typically, I'm the first one up, and Tristan joins me in the kitchen. I'll pour a big glass of water. One morning last week, Tristan started looking at me like, “are you going to drink that all by yourself?”
Once I realized he was thirsty, I poured him his own glass of water, put it by his food, and walked away. Later, I was bemused that it looked like the water hadn’t been touched. This happened a few times.
One day, the ritual was mid-repetition: I rose. Went downstairs. Got the water. Felt the heat of his feline eyes upon me. But instead of getting him his own glass, I filled mine up, pretended to drink from it, crouched down beside him, and put my glass on the floor in front of him.
And he drank from it.
Next day, we tried it again. This time, I set the water down on the floor and went about my business. Guess what.
He didn’t drink it.
Next day, I went through the pantomime, placed the glass in front of him, and stayed down with it…and again, he drank the water.
So "company for breakfast," as Winnie the Pooh would put it, turns out to make Tristan feel better! "Know what?" I said to Tristan, as I moved from a crouch to a full-scale, cross-legged sit down on the kitchen floor, "Me too."
Sometimes, a little company is all we need.
Especially after this week, I am grateful for all forms of company. Though we saw no one in person, the loving check-ins of our friends and family definitely speeded the healing process.
Be well out there.