I was walking along the Hudson at just about Midnight. It was one of these cool evenings we've been having. I was lucky and brought a sweat shirt. I go there, sometimes, when I am on the West Side, to work things out. Sometimes, I yell into the water and blow kisses at the moon.
I was near Christopher Street and all the couples that hang out there. There is a huge gay community that hangs out near the water. It's gay guys and the occasional runner, at that hour, on the Hudson.
I was going nowhere in particular, when I passed a woman who looked not unlike an aging Sissy Spacek with two pig tales and freckles. This, however, was not Sissy Spacek and she was busy balancing a box on top of a shopping cart. A Medium-sized Manhattan Mini-Storage box, to be exact.
She was tying twine around the box. Once, Twice, Three times, the twine went around.I was approaching from the north and, for a moment, didn't think too much about it- then I realized how weird it was. As I got closer, I noticed that the box was covered in hand written words. I strained my eyes to read the black sharpie scrawled over the printed blue advertisement for Manhattan Mini-Storage.
RIP beloved Violetta.
A little speaker when off in my head:
Attention. Attention. Please proceed to the nearest bench to watch the rest of this unfold.
I knew what was coming.
The Sissy Spacek woman finished tying the box shut, centered it, heavy with dead animal, which I could only assume, by its size, to be a cat, on her shopping cart and began moving to a spot with a clearer shot of the water.
I watched, amazed, with one eye, fifty feet away, so as not to disrespect her or scare her away.
She checked over her shoulder a couple of times making sure she was in relative privacy.
And then, picking up the box, gauging a fair distance between she and the railing, she swung the cardboard sarcophagi:
Burial at Sea.
There was a splash and she peered over the railing. She settled in, elbows resting on the piping, back curved, closed off from the sky.
I watched her for a few moments, from my distant seat, without moving. Suddenly, I felt very alone myself and full of loss. I'm not sure who sunk into me more, Violetta, dead and adrift in the cold and lonely waters of the Hudson, or the woman, aging and likely now, without companion.
I felt very blessed in that moment to be neither.
It began to feel wrong having witnessed the funeral and not having given her my best. Before I knew it, I was walking over to her.
I stood next to her. My knees resting on the railing; I peered over. Violetta was bobbing on the water. She was sinking, but remained steadfast with 60% visibility.
I turned to the lady who looked as if she was amazed by what she had just done, in shock that the cat was dead, and confused by my presence.
I looked at her and smiled lightly.
She immediately started crying.
I told her I was very sorry for her loss she told me she had had her for fifteen years. I told her losing cats is the worst feeling in the world; she continued to cry.
I hugged her and told her I would leave her be in peace.
"Thank you for stopping," she said.
I said, of course, and be well, as I walked away from her and the bobbing Medium- sized Mini Storage box, now only 40% visible in the Hudson River