Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Are you up now?"

Jean-Luc woke me up this morning. That's not unusual, though. He wakes me up every morning. Repeatedly. Usually starting somewhere around 5:00 am. He spends the night on my pillow, or on the pillow beside mine, trilling expectantly every time I move around in bed. When the sun is starting to think about rising, Jean-Luc is starting to feel the effects of not having been pet or fussed over for 6 hours. It is at this point that the trilling becomes more insistent. The pacing starts. From my pillow to his, down to the end of the bed, up over my chest with usually a bit of a bounce on my full bladder for good measure and then several moments of staring into my cpap-masked face, waiting for my eyelids to flicker. All the while, the trilling has graduated into full-fledged meowing, always a question, always the same question - "Are you up yet?"

I try to ignore him. The meows escalate into mild desperation. He offers ankle rubs, only on my head because my ankles are covered with blankets and besides, that much distance from my ears would seriously interfere with the annoy factor of the meowing. I stretch my arm out onto his pillow, and for a few moments he makes due by rubbing his face into my hand. A compromise. No, I'm not going to pet you because I am SLEEPING, but feel free to pet yourself using my hand. My limp, asleep hand. He makes do, for a while. Curls up next to my arm and buries his face in my hand. Pathetic. I send guilt scurrying with a low hiss. He's a cat, fercryingoutloud!

As the sun continues to rise, Jean-Luc gets more and more restless. He starts roaming the room, pulling books off of the bottom shelf of the book case. I'll fix it later. I can hear him playing with a gift bag. That should keep him busy for a few minutes. It does, until he shows up on the bed, meowing, and through one open, bleary eye I see that he has both string handles of the bags wrapped around his neck and is dragging it behind him. Sigh. I release him, and he rejoices. I am awake! Afraid that it will occur to him that self-strangulation is the new morning alarm, I roll over and mumble, "Oh no, I'm not."

He's not out of ideas yet, though. Swinging on my cpap machine hose is always good for a swat and a frantic dash out of the room. The old bum-in-the-face trick usually results in my trying to push him away, which, if handled well, can turn into a few moments of petting. He's persistent, if nothing else.

And the meowing. Questioning. Insistent. Inviting. Vulnerable. Lonely. And really, really hard to ignore.

Once I am up, even if he has wandered out of the room in desolation or for a trip to the litter box, he instantly arrives back for his good morning loving. I sit, blurry and dysfunctional, on the edge of the bed while he rubs my ankles in joy, leaping up onto the bed for a pet, since I am up anyway. Walking out of the room and down the stairs is a challenge, as he trips ahead, right in front of me. He looks back, to see if his good fortune is real and I am still upright and following. He doubles back and figures eights around my ankles, purring with pleasure. I just focus on trying to remain on my feet.

We arrive downstairs, I put the water on for tea, he finds a toy mouse and chases it around the living room. All is well with his world.

So, why do I put up with it? Maybe it's the memory of the fear and anxiety in his kitten blue eyes when we rescued him from a long, cold, hungry, lonely week of abandonment. Maybe it's the knowledge that his devotion is rooted in gratitude. One of my favorite Bible verses is in Psalms 18:19, "He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me." I know that we rescued Jean-Luc because we delighted in him. It just makes sense that, having been rescued, he delights in us as well.

I think the biggest reason I "put up" with Jean-Luc's insistent devotion is because he is a constant reminder of the overwhelming love and passion that comes from knowing that God has rescued me. Oh, to be so devoted, so needy, so hungry for the Presence of God that I would risk irritating Him by standing over His face in the middle of the night, grinning sheepishly, "Are you up yet?"

"How 'bout now?"

"How 'bout now?"

"Now? Are You up now?"

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