The nights when the kids are at their dads are simultaneously awesome and terrible. The house is so quiet. Too quiet. I shuffle around in my slippers, turning off lights, locking doors, talking to the animals as if they could understand and respond. Crazy cat lady.
Back when I was newly separated I had gotten in the bad habit of letting the dogs sleep on the bed. Three big dogs, nicely filling up the empty side of the bed and making me feel somewhat less alone. Except there's a problem with dogs and beds. Pretty soon they think they have a right to be there, and if for any reason you don't want them up there, they sit on the floor and whine incessantly. Or they growl at you when you want to move them. Or they take up so much space there's not much room for you any more. Not a problem - so long as you don't ever get remarried. It turns out that teaching your dogs to stay off the bed takes just about as long as it takes to teach your kid to sleep in his own bed: three nights, and the occasional slide into bad habits.
Cats are a different story. Cats do not take up an excess amount of space. Cats, unlike small dogs, do not burrow under the covers and do their best to put their nose in your private parts. Cats, if you are not allergic, are wonderful heat sources.
Juliet has slept with me most nights the last couple of years. If she's not sleeping with me she's in my daughter's bed, but most often she's with me. She will leap up next to me, knead the covers a bit, then plop herself down with her back pressed up against my stomach. I pet her a little, and she purrs quietly, making soft snuffly noises. At some point in the night I will roll over, and she will use this opportunity to crawl under the covers and rearrange herself in the curl of my belly or behind my knees. We have a predictable and comfortable arrangement, she and I.
There are times of late that my bed seems huge and empty, there are times when the fact that I am lonely hits me like a freight train. There are times when I realize that my closest and dearest sleeping companion is a cat. Then I start to feel a little bit sorry for myself and the tears flow. Once Fortunately Juliet doesn't mind getting a little bit soggy.
Comfort, thy name is Cat.