I don't expect her so strongly anymore when I come home, but I still think I hear her in the next room sometimes, and I still think I see her out of the corner of my eye. I still have the sense that she must be so quiet because she is dozing somewhere, and that if I turned around I'd see her on the armchair. Mostly, I'm happy to say, I experience this stage of my grief as irritation. There should be a cat on the armchair. When it's snowing outside and I have work to do at my desk, or when I am baking bread, there should be a cat here to watch me, sphinxlike. I used to have one; what the hell?
I also find that there is a difference between talking to yourself when there is a cat around and talking to yourself when there is no cat around. Why should this be? Attica did not understand English, and most of the time I wasn't even addressing her. But it felt less silly, somehow. In college I had a roommate who didn't like me. When she caught me talking to myself she would ask, "Who are you talking to?" I never knew if she asked this because she really imagined I might be addressing someone besides myself, some hallucination perhaps of my disordered mind, or just because she wanted to call my attention to how weird I was being. In any case, that is the kind of thing Attica never did. When I lowered myself out of bed, announcing, "Today we've got lots to do!" she would either ignore me or watch me with a bland expression. That, Andrea, is the appropriate way to react.
When I came back from Thanksgiving in California Attica was weak; she didn't come all the way to the door, but she was, I think, happy to see me. I slept on the sofa that night, because it seemed unlikely that she would be able to climb the ladder to the loft bed. In fact I think she had trouble just getting onto the sofa. When she draped herself across my hip I scritched her and petted her and after a few minutes she gave me a thin little purr.
The next day she withdrew from me, and the day after that she died, and that was two weeks ago but I'm still sleeping on the sofa. I don't expect her so much there. There isn't as much room for her not to be in.