Dear Walt,

Today I decided to clean off your desk. Now I can’t remember if I was looking for something in particular, a receipt perhaps, or if the mess was just getting to me; I hadn’t touched it since December 21st happened and it made getting to your computer and the TV a hazard. I’m glad I dove in since some cat had decided to use the paperwork for a litter box. “Do you know how much I hate cats?” I can’t count how many times that came out of your mouth even while you held one in your lap or sat stroking one’s ears while watching TV.

You had your favorite.

I found the pin that had been in your finger after you’d sliced into three of them while repairing our fence and had surgery. That happened less than a week after we’d moved back to the second floor following Harvey… meaning you spend the entire three months of your construction career working mostly one-handed. The section of fence that we, not the community, are responsible for was the first thing needing to be repaired so we could bring the dogs home. What a crappy start to rebuilding everything we’d lost. But we had each other.

And we had the dogs and the cats. I feel the worst for poor Bully. She was your cat and even though our daughter’s cats had invaded her space, she felt safe coming upstairs when you were here. She hasn’t been upstairs to our room or the office since December 21st happened. She’s stayed downstairs sleeping in the laundry room which she’s always loved or outside which is her domain. I still give her her saucer of half & half when she asks. I’m hoping once I’m back in my bedroom and the construction ceases she’ll be comfortable again sleeping with me.

The dogs have handled your absence better than I expected. They were anxious for the first few days but there was so much activity here, people in and out, that they were entertained. Our son in law walks them and our daughter joins him often with their two dogs. He even played with Duke in the pool when it was warm enough. Well, warm enough for Duke. That dog is really going to miss swim-racing you. He and Snickers have settled into a good routine with me which helps. They were used to not having constant access to come and go at will since the house had been partitioned between the two dog packs since we moved back. But now they know when it’s bedtime and Duke settles onto his bed while Snickers snuggles with me and they stay put all night. We’re a lazy pack of three, sleeping nine or ten hours.

I take them out in the car once in a while and I’ve walked them, too, but my walks are much shorter than the ones you used to take them on. And no way would I even attempt biking them, though Duke’s the only one able to make that run. Snickers’ bad knee limits her as mine do me. Jedi sleeps in my office most days and little Darth has the run of the upstairs now that the foster dog is gone. You’d be amazed at how healthy she looks compared to the pitiful ragged thing she was after Harvey. She loves playing with Sofie and Casper who needs his balls chopped off soon. We rarely see Solo though she was in the garage during the last freeze.

I guess it’s good I have most of our original menagerie along with the daughter and son in law’s additions to the zoo. Their antics make me laugh even while I’m grumping at cleaning the cat pee off the desk and, of course, it’s on papers that I might actually need instead of the trash receipts that had littered the surface.

Since this wasn’t your true desk I don’t feel as if I’m erasing you. This was just your interim space until you reclaimed your office which I suppose will now just become a guest bedroom. And your computer is still here. I might eventually take that one over since it’s much more powerful than mine. Not that I need all that power but I like using your things. I still have your wallet and keys and glasses on my desk. Those and your phone, which our daughter is using, were always the things you reached for when running an errand and you always misplaced one of the set because you were completely absent minded when it came to where you’d put things and couldn’t be bothered to pick a spot so you’d know. Instead you always asked me because you knew I’d take care of you.

I’ve got them here. Together. Safe and sound. Still seeing to all the things you left in my care. Including the cats and the dogs.