It’s been at least another fifty years, how many now, in truth, I’ve lost count.
Nowadays each anniversary starts the same way. Someone gently shakes me awake. All becomes white. At their words, I nod in answer, although sometimes I shake my head just to be perverse. But it is all the same now. I know each carer if not by name at least by touch: each firm at first then fleeting and far away.
I still reach out, automatically, expecting her to be there. But the bed is empty.
Afterwards I’m fed and watered. Sometimes they even brush my teeth. Sometimes there’s a tug of pain as they adjust something : some tube or wire : it’s all the same to me.
By then I’ve forgotten. And I drift away again. Sometimes off to sleep or a half-sensed reverie of almost-forgotten warmth.
Every so often I open my eyes and strain to see the board. BP : three figures then two, pulse never more than double figures, oxygen percentage flashing eight something then nine and the ECG looking like Everest conquered. So I must be doing okay. So maybe I’ll get a little better so I can start looking for her. But as a quiet voice tells me, each fiftieth sees me a little further away.
And I forget even that. Because now they’re making my bed. With me in it.
Except I forget again. Because finally at last, Fluffy after fifty years has returned to me. And I am curling up to make room.
Where’s my cat, I start to say. One of the nurses catches my eye and shakes her head.
And that is enough for me.
I wake fully and reach out. Or try to. Still I’m getting up now, I’ll call her and she will come to me. Then we both can lie down, she to purr and me to sleep, peacefully, blissfully and finally.
Now there are flashing lights. They’ve called the police : said it was an emergency because I’ve lost my cat. Good. I can wait for that.
But their hands are back. Their touch is rough but distant then tentative, electric and then over nervous. And now blankets are enveloping me. Electric shock after electric shock while they roll me away. Catless.
Looks like I’ll have to wait another fifty years. Once this current emergency passes.