Saw Maria today, walking down the hill to catch the bus.
She had flowers for her husband’s grave. She visits him each Sunday. A long bus ride away.
I always thought she just loved flowers. I’ve seen her many times over the years – with flowers squashed into her bag. Today with two bunches of Dahlias – white and purple. She asked about the rain: ‘Is it going to rain, always rains in England, yes?’
The rain started like a theatre prompt. ‘But Maria, you’ve been here twenty-two years, it will never stop raining!’ It must be bad enough to visit your husband’s grave – but in the rain, in July?
She said no more about her husband. But her cat – Beniamino – he died two years ago. We spoke about Benni and her tears, just slightly, were there.
He was the neighbourhood’s favourite cat; huge, black and white with eyes like dinner plates. He’d creep into your house, meow in your kitchen – waiting for butter. Too beautiful and bold to be shooed away. We all miss him.
Maria told me about his grave. The hole her son had dug for him at the end of the garden. It was a good metre deep – he even made him a wooden box with Benni’s name on top. A ‘cat coffin’.
And it took all day – between fixing the plastic roof over Maria’s back door that he used to sit on, swiping at flies and butterflies.
I asked Maria if he had some kind of gravestone – like a large stone. Maria said ‘no’.
Each morning next door’s cat sits beside the grave, looking at it without moving.
She misses him and never forgets to put a bowl of water out each day, that’ll never be drunk from.
© con jamón spain