Dear Readers,

The precarious meter clicked down a notch this week as “photographic anomaly” was chosen over “spot on the lung,” and the invisible spear lodged in my wife’s back got labeled “chest wall pain.”  That’s doctor speak for “We don’t have a clue.”  (See last week’s entry.)

She is better now.

The sun shines.

But the joyous theme of death, doom and destruction continued on Monday as I drove to the church I grew up in to attend the funeral of a deacon who was close to my now-dispersed family.  In the sixties I delighted in staying late, running through the halls to turn off all the lights, hard church shoes clacking through spooky darkness.  My Dad was the preacher.

But by the seventies I became weary of the sweet, cloying, dreary-hymned love surrounding me, discovered fellowship with a new congregation in the Coliseum downtown, where we gathered in the names of Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, and all the others who’d written stanzas and refrains that rang true to my naive, truth-seeking heart.

So as my heathen credentials are solid, it was only fitting that I cranked “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains in the car on the way to the funeral.  My family was close to theirs.  Math and humanity won out.

Then on Thursday, Tina, our cat of two decades, selected from a litter by my now twenty-two year old daughter, who except for getting pretty blind and deaf over the last year maintained excellent health, who never left our side when we were sick, who survived six feet of Katrina storm surge, whose proper name is Tina Bina Squeena Malina Queen of All the Cats, who for the last three years never ventured more than five feet from the safety of the house, vanished off the face of the earth, as if it were the Rapture, and she was the only one who qualified.

An FBI-level manhunt over and under the house, the yard and the neighborhood yielded no clues.  My wife’s perception of Tina as Saint gives weight to the Ascension theory.

We cried as Tina montages rolled through our minds.

Then, as my daughter taped what I told her was a futile “lost cat” sign to a telephone pole (actual quote from sign – “Answers to Tina.  But she’s deaf”), she met a dude who said he’s got some eight-week-old kittens.

And after twenty-four hours of not having a cat in the house, it was decided in committee that the situation was intolerable.

So now Jasper and Reuben, who will never measure up to the Queen, who will never replace her in our hearts, chase each other, chase their own tails, skitter sideways, drag whatever’s on a raised surface crashing to the floor, and make us smile with their daffy naivety.

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