After Abbie

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Collect the little red food bowls whose slightest clatter used to bring her running. Tuck them away somewhere safe and inconspicuous where you won’t forget about them but won’t have to remember them either.

Empty out the half-filled cans of wet food and tuna that accumulated in the refrigerator as you tried to adapt to her increasingly unpredictable appetite. Watch the burbling slurry of gravy and fish and savory morsels as it eddies away down the disposal.

Clean out the litter box and sweep up the granules of litter from the floor around it. Consider throwing it out but instead take it up to the attic just in case.

Pull out the fur-strewn pillows from under the bed. Fold up the portable mattress that she claimed for her own last week from the bedroom floor. Bundle up the blanket you wrapped her in to comfort her when she recognized the visiting vet’s scrubs and made a break for her upstairs hiding spaces. Remove the bed sheets where she snuggled in between the two of you one more time last night. Take them all down to the laundry room and set the washer to “bedding.”

Empty the water bowl. Rinse off the plastic plates that were finally easier for her to lap from than the little red bowls. Add them to the load in the dishwasher.

Gather up the baggies of treats that have been strewn about the house in various spots where she might nibble more easily. Put them in the tall plastic bin with the near-empty bags of dry food she’d already given up on eating. Carry the bin out to the alley and discard the uneaten scraps. Take the bin up to the attic and set it inside the litter box.

Move the expensive carpeted exercise tower that she barely ever glanced at down to the basement closet.

Sit down on the couch with a profoundly empty lap and remember the way she used to fall asleep with her ridiculous little kitten tongue poking out of her fuzzy grey face way back several lifetimes ago when she helped you make sense of a world that scared you in such a different way. Feel the aching resignation of a house minus one.

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