I believe in signs. You might call them co-incidences or wishful thinking.
It’s my first day in Budapest in 24 years. I’m learning how to live without Zoe. It’s a stiflingly hot central European summers day and I find the cafe in what was once a glamourous department store, with frescoed ceilings and gilded embellishments. It’s a cool dark respite from the blazing sunlit day and I’m drinking a home made lemonade. There’s a grand piano and the pianist starts playing Isn’t She Lovely. It’s the song I would put on and sing to Zoe while I danced around the house with her when she she was a refluxy baby who couldn’t sleep. It’s the song I told her was my song for her because she’s lovely. She replied it was her song for me because I’m lovely. It’s the song we played at the beginning of her funeral. I’m in the right place.
Can one shaggy fickle moggy show you where you belong?
We didn’t adopt Charlie Cat, he adopted us, soon after we moved to our new house in 2008, the year before Zoe’s cancer diagnosis. We’d moved from a townhouse in the inner city to a single level house with a safe little garden Zoe could play in. No more lugging washing up two flights of stairs along with a strong willed toddler, or driving to where she could walk on the grass. It was a house that matched my dream of how family life should be, in a neighbourhood of other families, close to the zoo, playgrounds and the beach. There was even a walking school bus to the local primary school and a feijoa tree in the garden.
The week we moved here, I walked with then 2 year old Zoe to the supermarket around the corner. She stopped at virtually every house along the way. “Look, a house, a fence. Look another house, another fence.” With the right house, I felt sure we would become that perfect family, give Zoe a quintessential Kiwi childhood and that our marriage problems would become a distant memory. The addition of a household pet seemed like the icing on the cake. It felt like a sign that he had chosen us. Continue reading