Photo of Jean-Marc with the kitties, who went missing. My son and his friend Anto helped come up with this list of Ways to say you are hurting, but often the look on one's face is enough to convey the message of tristesse, or sadness.
Les differentes expressions pour exprimer la souffrance/
Expressions to express suffering:
je suis triste = I am sad
ça ne va pas du tout = things aren't going well at all
ce n'est pas la forme = not feeling so great
je déprime = I'm depressed
je ne me sens pas bien = I don't feel well
A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse
The cats are gone. There is no gentler way to say it, not even to myself. For those who wrote in when we first got Pancho and Lily, warning us to keep our cats indoors--please don't say I told you so! I couldn't feel any worse than I already do and any reminders would only kick at my heart.
Pancho and Lily went missing Thursday, hours before they were scheduled to be spayed and neutered. I know, I should have had them locked in the house. Instead, our 5-and-a-half month old cats were enjoying their morning ritual: climbing the olive and fig trees in our yard and chasing Smokey's tail as he sat wagging it below the clothesline, watching his human pin up socks and underwear en étendant le linge.
The last time I saw Pancho I was heading back from the clothesline. I set down my panier à linge and collected our cat into my arms. Like a warm towel fresh off the line, he felt so good. Pancho is the cuddlier of the two chats and we have a soft spot for him as he suffers from separation anxiety, or la névrose d'abandon. (He was not 5 weeks old when given to us and the emotional scars were evident in the way he suckled all the time--his paw or my hand or the pillow case--anything to get back that feeling of mama's closeness).
After a good long câlin, we all went about our duties for the day: for me, there was a post to write about our recent trip to Serre Chevalier, for Smokey there was the business of chewing on sticks (or what he likes to pretend to be "flute practice") and for Pancho and Lily there were trees to climb, dangling laundry to swat at and the vegetable patch (so much fun to burst through the parsley "curtains," startling the gardener on the other side. How I fall for the cats' antics every time!).
By lunchtime, I had finished my post and was slapping together a sandwich in our makeshift kitchen (the living room, where we're camping out during renovations) when a distant questioning ricocheted through my mind: Mais où sont les chats?
I didn't worry too much about it, thinking that we'd soon cross paths again. Still, it was strange that Pancho and Lily had not eaten the treat Jean-Marc had left them in their bowls. The chicken skin was still there, untouched.
After lunch and a short nap, I had set out to weed the kitchen garden when that nagging doubt came back as I worked my way around le persil, or parsley: Mais où sont les chats?
That is when reality hit. Pancho and Lily were gone!
A sickly feeling came over me. A horrible intuition that they hadn't just run off.... Perhaps it was paranoia, but I could not help feeling our cats were the victim of foul play.
"Not foul play!" Jean-Marc assured me (though birds were--in my husband's opinion--a key to this mystery. Had the cats' instincts kicked in, and now they were off with the birds of springtime? And speaking of instincts, was the vet correct when she guessed the cats had sensed the upcoming sterilization--and disappeared so as to avoid it?).
I thought about one or the other explanations. I remembered waking up that morning of the doctor's appointment, and my husband's comment. "Listen!" he said, "Can you hear the birds? C'est le printemps!" We had lingered there in bed, listening to the chirp parade going on outside our window. The birdsong made me giddy and I bounded out of bed, intent on rejoicing for this, the day that God had made!
But by evening there was not one high note left to reach for. No more birdsong--only a deadpan atmosphere. Even the dogs looked depressed, huddled beside the front door. As I turned the lock, my ears trembled from the sound of la fermeture. The cats were still on the other side... somewhere.
Normally at this point in these missives, the story would lift. The stories always lift! And then there is a happy ending. But at this point, after last night's heavy rainfall--and still no cats this morning--the only way for that to happen would be, for once, to not end this histoire.
And isn't that what Hope is?: a never-ending story.
* * *
I moved Pancho and Lily's bed outside. All their belongings are intact, inside. Brushing my teeth this morning, I stumbled over their jingle-bell ball. Reaching down to pick it up, I wondered where to put it.
Comments and a Post Note: Thank you for your support. I really need it at this time. I apologize to cat lovers out there, whose hearts are as heavy as mine is this morning. I didn't mean to let you down. From the moment these cats came into our care, I took their well-being to heart, giving Pancho and Lily all I could. If, as some of you may say, I am responsible for their demise by choosing to let them play outside, then I will have to live with this horror in my heart.
en étendant le linge = while hanging out the laundry
le panier à linge = laundry basket
le câlin = the cuddle, hug
mais où sont les chats? = but where are the cats?
le persil = parsley
c'est le printemps = it's springtime
la fermeture = closing
l'histoire (f) = story
le potager = kitchen garden, vegetable patch
A Message from Kristi: For twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.
Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.
Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety