This afternoon I took a break to spend time with my sorrow, the fresh and the old – long experience tells me this is necessary, and that ignoring it will only lead to fatigue, apathy and a need to keep distracted all the time…instead of a nap, which I allow myself on very tough days, I read a little from Francis Weller’s The Wild Edge of Sorrow, which arrived yesterday. Almost right away I felt myself wandering in shadow, through not only this recent loss but so many others – humans and other animals I have loved and lost, the tragedy of my father dying without reconciliation, the tragedy of me ever thinking it was possible we would – losing our home (we have to move next year) breaking of ties with two of my best friends last year, and the larger framework of what is happening all over the world (the first thing that greeted me when I sat down to write, was a horror story about elephant abuse, how does anyone stay sane with it all?) ….but, the time spent in contemplation of and connection with sorrow is time well spent. I am thinking of course about Amidala, who died almost two weeks ago, suddenly, and who has left a scar on my heart that I cannot describe. The empty space on the sofa where she always lay, invited me to remember her, actually sense her impression, her spirit, as I read. Her physical being is gone, and my final memory will be her beautiful tail and one little foot sticking out from under my shawl, the one I chose to wrap and bury her in..lifeless. Yet here she is, in absence, still here in spirit.Close by me as I read, once again, about how to manage the loss of a friend I had cherished and adored…and lost.
And suddenly I remembered The Bat – a tiny, bright-eyed, super-inquisitive and cheerful little black cat that the House Viking rescued and brought home, years ago….an outstandingly clever and sweet- tempered little spirit. After only a few months here, she began to show breathing problems, worse and worse, and when it became clear we had to take her in, the diagnosis was advanced heart failure – she would drown in lung fluid, if untreated, and if treated would not have more than a few weeks or even days anyway. We opted to let her go, that day, rather than extend suffering and delay the inevitable. Alone with her in the examining room, I felt myself flood with pain as she watched the birds outside, so excited and bright, even as she struggled to breathe and the fluid in her lungs rattled with every attempt. I sat quietly and watched the enormous light in this cat, not more than a year old, and I held her as the needle went in, and she looked up at the vet as if to say..”what’s this, then?”…just as she would when I brought in herbs, or opened the fridge door, or carried groceries into the house.
Always curious – sweet to the core, and gone so soon.
The Bat – not feeling well at all
It was that visit, that awful day, that brought zhouzhou to me a few weeks later- had I not gone into theclinic with Batia, and spent so long there, waiting for Xrays and making the decision, I wouldn’t have chatted with the receptionist, told her how I do a little cat rescue, how we came to have our various animals, and she wouldn’t have had my number to call a few weeks later when zhouzhou and her brother were brought in to be PTS, as no one had any time or love for them at all. 6 years later, zhouzhou is content here and so well loved – the cycle turns and one precious friend is lost, and in time, another one comes – not to replace, but to balance your pain with joy and happiness, again.
Opening Wheeler’s book, I read the quote from Terry Tempest Williams – “Grief dares us to love once more”. When we love other species, and are fated to lose them over and over, this dare becomes a challenge it is tempting to ignore. But I won’t ignore it. I am just sick with the loss of Amidala, whom I’ve written about on Facebook and will ultimately write more about here, as I can. Just “pain-saturated”, I am right now. But the time will come to welcome another, and there is always this ocean of love for those that are here, and on a larger scale, all animals everywhere (with all the pain that brings).
Now; whatever you believe, I have deep feelings about life and death, and beyond the universality of suffering, we all have our gnosis. After I spent the time I needed with book and pain and quiet opening, I got up to start tea and finish the work of the day, in my office. Strangely silent here with Korky resting and all the furbearers too lethargic to be making commotion, I sat down and started opening my Files. Within a minute, off to my left, a rustle, and a familiar (no pun intended) sensation of chill and awareness. I quickly realized the time – Amidala’s time, the hour of day she always jumped on the desk to my left and demanded attention. I sat looking at the empty space, frozen, really – and out of nowhere, a whole stack of client files fell over, covering the emptiness. It is a completely still day, not the whisper of a breeze. I looked at all the work to be done and realized, work is both my salvation and my mission, and also the thing that takes me away from what I cherish. I remembered all the times I REALLY wanted to get something done, and there she was, wanting to play, hard to resist but still “inconvenient “. Sitting here today, files all over the desk, I felt the Hand of the Unseen, all through and around me. Loss and hope, pain and gratitude.
As grieving well will always bring.
The beauteous Amidala
So now, I get to work. On this client case I am almost through – and on the much harder task of staying soft, and open, in the grey silence of sorrow. With the presence of absence close by, and the inevitable ache of having loved a vulnerable little being, with all of one’s heart.
Till we meet again, my faerie. Till we all, all of us, meet again.