The passing of Mom and Dad and Asia and Tisha has convinced me that our lives touch those around us in ways that the senses can't explain. I know that I perceived the world differently after the death of Mom in 2002 and again after Dad's death in August; there was an emptiness that was continually with me, a tangible sense that something was missing even when I was an hour away from their home. Logic would tell me that they were just as apart from me when they were alive in Rome and I was in Marietta processing comic books or working on Comic Shop News--but even during at these times, I knew they were absent the same way you can feel it when someone is looking at you while your back is turned to them.
The same sense of absence surrounds the deaths of Asia and Tisha. The house is different when they're not here. Even though Tisha spent most of the past few months asleep in the basement, her presence in the house affected us. I could use the cliched sixties "vibes" to describe it, but the overuse of that word has negated its significance to the point that it would trivialize my point.
The presence of "not-Tisha" is just as tangible as her living presence was. It's not just that she's not here--there's a real awareness that her "not-here-ness" exists in this house. Not only do we feel it, but Anna and Mischa do, too; they look intently at the places where she isn't but once was, and they act differently now, as if they're forced to create a new normal.
Anna is more loving and spends more time with us; even though she didn't spend a great deal of time with Tisha, she was very much attuned to her. When she first came to our home, Tisha was her role model; she picked up many of Tisha's quirks and mannerisms, and stayed close to her. It's obvious that she misses Tisha now, but it's equally obvious that she'd not comfortable with that "not-here-ness" that has replaced Tisha, and she's looking to us to help rebalance her world.
(The photo above is one of my favorites of Anna; even though it's slightly out of focus because I shot it with a narrow-depth-of-field portrait lens and she moved just as I depressed the shutter, it still conveys her sensitivity and grace.)
Mischa, however, responds the absence of the matriarchal Tisha in a different manner. She's become more assertive, more bold, and sometimes more confrontational. Because she's a large cat (she weighs in at fifteen pounds while Anna's just under ten, and Tisha was slightly less than seven), her boldness can be intimidating to Anna. Mischa has become more territorial since Tisha's passing last Thursday; we can see the change. With Tisha gone, Mischa wants to be the center of our world; she is desperate for our attention, and dislikes seeing that attention directed anywhere else.
I'm hoping that, as we all become more accustomed to Tisha's absence, things will rebalance to a degree and Mischa will become less needful. After years of having Asia and Tisha, two cats who were perfectly attuned to one another, I regret seeing Anna and Mischa move in divergent paths.