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The Trouble With Harry

The Trouble With Harry

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Published by LauraNovak
The trouble with Harry's life is that it taught me an unexpected, yet poignant, lesson about my own.
The trouble with Harry's life is that it taught me an unexpected, yet poignant, lesson about my own.

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Published by: LauraNovak on Oct 06, 2010
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07/26/2012

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THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY
BY LAURA NOVAK
Harry…
was a leg guy. That way he had of sinking into the down comforter on those foggy San Francisco nightsand burrowing deeply between my legs, searching for warmth on three sides. No matter which way Iturned, Harry was there, lying on top of me, beside me, possessing me. I sported a primo pair of gams inthose days and the fact that this roguish red head would attack my husband’s feet if he got between usalways gave me a perverse chuckle. Harry, the leg lover. That is the way I would like to remember him. If it were only that simple.
 
Those were the waning days of the go-go 80’s in randy San Francisco. The earthquake brought myapartment building in the Marina down around my head. Mark, my then fiancé, rescued me, movingwhat little I could salvage into his bachelor bungalow above Ghirardelli Square.It was all about love in those days; aerobics and dinner 
à deux
after work, weekend hikes in Marin,food shopping in North Beach. Like most young couples, our lives were charged with sex and secondrun films, with nary a thought to a complicated future.Fast forward twelve years when our six-year-old son, Max, poked me awake one morning beforedawn, unable to defeat jet lag from the previous night’s flight from Boston where we had beenvisiting family. Groggily, Max crawled under a blanket in the TV room while I rummaged through a box of videos in search of one to occupy him. I came upon an ancient relic marked “Mama, Harryand Sally.” This was the family of cats we rescued after the earthquake. It was a curious choice for atape to watch now because Harry had shockingly deteriorated during our weeks back east. It wouldtake the veterinarian another day to make a house call and terminal diagnosis. I must have sensedimpending doom as I pulled the video from its sleeve.“You look like a girl!” Max remarked as the video began. I leaned in closer, stunned at the sight of myself: nubile and thin, manicured with tousled curls wearing Mark’s nightshirt. In breathy tones Idirected Mark to pan the room, zoom in on Harry Cat and his sister, Sally, pull back to show MamaKitty nursing them.
 
“Why is dad’s beard so dark?” Max asked, sitting upright as if to better understand this encodedversion of his parents.How was I to explain to this child who had ransomed our hearts and enriched our souls that dad’s beard was so dark because we had countless mornings to loll about and videotape three cats for 90uninterrupted minutes. Because we didn’t yet know what it was to have an intensely sick childundergo multiple surgeries, to not sleep for four consecutive years and feel our marriage worn to anub. Because back then, the world was our oyster, like the barbecued ones we’d slurp up in TomalesBay on weekends while playing footsie and drinking champagne.“We were so young then,” was all I said, kissing the back of Max’s head.Harry died peacefully three days later. Mark and I wrapped him in his favorite blanket and shared theonly quiet time with him we had known in years. Before the vet gave the final shot, we kissed our first boy while he purred and we promised him a vast garden of lavender in Heaven. Harry’s heartceased beating beneath my hand, his fur inert for the first time since Max engulfed our lives.For days thereafter, I would sit in the garden just before dinner, the time Harry would habitually slink home from his daily bender, and I would provoke myself into inconsolable paroxysms of grief.One night, while packing for a business trip, Mark said, “I think Harry’s death is calling upsomething deeper for you. Maybe it represents the end of something else?” I knew he was right, yetdidn’t have the heart to remind Mark of the videotape, of just the two of us at the height of the rut,idle and carefree, not yet contemplating a child and not fearing the death of a child.

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Joe Hagen added this note
They quickly become family. That's hard enough w/o the memories too. I've been converting home video to dvd and reliving those younger years with, fortunately not so sharp yearnings for times lost. Very nicely written! Thanks for posting.
Bspeedman17564 liked this
LA Juice added this note
My "Harry" was a sassy gray tabby named Cello and we spent 16 years together,and my heart still breaks inconsolably when I allow myself to remember she is gone. This was a lovely tribute.
natasha_tracy added this note
That's woven beautifully.
Jed Diamond added this note
Laura, I liked it when I first read it and like it even better now. Like a good friend it recalls the joy and the tears of life and love and loss.
David Cole added this note
Tremendously moving, honest, direct, and real. I feel the weight of those sleepless nights.
Rhonda Hayes added this note
Love your heartfelt honesty, Laura. Oh how it touches home base. Thanks for sharing.

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