This mountain laurel bush blooms every year in early July. Mickey planted it in memory of her cat Folly, who arrived in our family one similar but long-past summer.
Folly was an orphaned kitten, very small, a tigery-tabbyish caramel and white boy kitty whose malnourished hipbones felt very, very fragile through his baby fur. He loved food, he loved to play, and he loved people. He was the most dog-like cat I’ve ever known.
Something, we later found out, was wrong with his heart. The vet said it would be dangerous to give him the tiny dose of antihistamine other cats often receive as long-trip tranquilizers. Folly, she told us, would have to get valium. She wrote us a prescription with kitty-sized doses, and the pill bottle lived on a shelf of our medicine chest. “Valium … Folly” it said on the bottle of pills.
One morning, ten years ago maybe, I telephoned Mickey in Somerville from a NH Burger King parking lot (we have no phone up here and this was before we had cellphones). “How’s it going?” I rather inanely began.
“Not very well,” said Mickey, very softly. “Folly just died.” She woke up and he had just … died. He was still a young kitty but now he would never wake up. Oh, how sad we all were, to lose Folly. Beautiful dancing Folly, who loved to chase Mickey upstairs and down, Folly who loved to be patted and held, Folly who had even learned to turn a doorknob.
Now his body is here, and it will always be here, under the mountain laurel. And every July, it will bloom again, just to remind us.