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Posts Tagged ‘touching eternity’

Dear Readers,

Like a lot of life, I meant to get this finished and posted over a month ago.  But I have been back East twice during that time, with the second visit a final goodbye to my father…

I thought that talking about everyday kitty undertakings would be too mundane, too ordinary—my mood being as somber as it has been of late.  But then I thought, well, what better way to acknowledge the gift of the everyday than with a post about the everyday.  So here is that post, kept mostly intact with its original title:

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It’s mid summer, and the kitties and their humans have gotten into a routine.  Life is “normal”; well, as normal as you can get when you have two humans living with five felines.  Vacuuming should be constant, but I’m not a fan of the chore…  (And for those of you who wonder why the husband does not pitch in:  Roger’s domain is primarily house repair and outside maintenance—both ongoing, year-round activities!)  And then there is the continual changing of cat alliances and the breaking up of kitty skirmishes.   And the constant cleaning of daily hair ball pukage (yuchhh, gross).

Then there are, of course, the sweet routines:

Ø  Puffy supervising the making of the bed in the mornings.  Well, mostly he waits in a corner of the bedroom—patiently I might add—until I am roused enough to realize his presence.  Then he plops in the middle of the bed-making action and raises his rump sufficiently high to ensure rigorous rubbing.

Ø  Cuddling with the Tiggster at night on my office floor before bedtime.

Ø  Head nuggying (is that a word?) with Junior, chirping his way of happiness.

Ø  Even Blackie ensuring—through plaintive mews—that I don’t forget him during mealtimes.

And then there is Chewie with his food fetishes.  Zucchinis have been handled and are no longer left unguarded on the kitchen counter.  And this summer I’ve discovered that he loves… salad!   No iceberg  lettuce for him. Green leaf lettuce is a favorite, although he also has a liking for arugula, red leaf lettuce and mesclun.  I may not have seen the goofy critter for hours, holed up in some closet somewhere… but as soon as I start preparations for the evening’s salad, invariably up on the counter he emerges from nonphysical to inspect the progress—and to steal a leaf for munching when I’m not looking.  What an odd appetite indeed…

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This time of year, with the summer waning and hints of fall in the cool night air, has always been a special time for me.  It is particularly poignant as it will be the first time without my father’s physical presence.  Being a product of his generation and a survivor of The Holocaust, my Dad never truly understood my choices of creative output.  Yet, he loved animals—especially cats.  And he always asked about my brood.

So these moments of mirth—when the unexpected collides with the everyday during a time when I feel very sad, indeed—have been a wonderful reminder and acknowledgement of the gift that is the present moment.  A gift that is  fleeting, momentary—and never guaranteed.

I’ll end with a video snippet of my father from 2009 (I was testing my former BlackBerry’s video capabilities) talking about my parents’ cat, Lilly.  He just loved and spoiled that cat!  She died two summers ago… I’d like to think that my father and Lilly have now reunited on the Rainbow Bridge to cross together into eternity…

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“August, die she must,
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold;
September I’ll remember.
A love once new has now grown old.”

–from April Come She Will by Simon and Garfunkel

The cool, crisp air brings relief to summer’s heat.  Leaves turn from green to a vibrant palate of reds, oranges and yellows.  Autumn has always been evocative, poignant time for me, a time of transition from the summer’s radiant energy, foreshadowing the slumbers of winter. 

It was this time of year, four years ago when we said our final goodbye to Frisco—an elderly male Himalayan who lived to age 18!  Frisco was primarily Roger’s cat, but he did come to accept me, and I grew to love him.  He was the solo kitty (imagine that!) from 2001 to 2007.  When his kidneys finally gave out, we took him to the vet so that he would no longer suffer.  The old coot was ornery til the end.  One moment he was there, hissing at me (I inadvertently touched his paws, and he never liked that!)… and one final heart beat later his pupils dilated and he no longer was…

Where did he go?

Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that our feline companions live for such a  short time. You are just getting used to their company when they opt for transition.  And there you are, left with memories of joy and feelings of grief and loss.  They give so much and burn out so quickly.  Is this heartache the price we pay for a few years of joy spent with these lumps of love? 

I have lived with a handful of cats that no longer are…except for my memories of them.  Sometimes they passed due to life’s circumstances; others, of natural causes. My love affair with striped tiger kitties started with Lilly in 1988, when Lilly adopted my ex-husband and me as her official caretakers…  It was during the cool of autumn in 1993 when I realized my first marriage was over and I initially left my ex.  We were quite cordial in the division of the marital assets…Lilly stayed with him—partly out of guilt and as a consolation to the breakup of our marriage… I hope she had a good life, a life filled with warmth and love.

There were other felines that I had to say goodbye to…I was with my friend, Sondra, when she had to make the most extreme decision to put down her Millie, her kitty stricken with an oral cancer who was slowly starving to death yet still wanted to live.  It was a two-step process by a vet who came to Sondra’s home…a peaceful transition, but one that is still heart wrenching to think of years after I was witness to it…

And more recently, nearly half of Slug Mamma’s brood are gone, so young and so soon.  Pumpkin was Junior’s littermate, a short-haired white and orange spotted goof who was so personable and friendly. The last time we saw him was an evening in June 2009.  With one grainy photo, I went to local shelters to look for him…but to no avail.

Then there were Blackie’s littermates: Minnie Me, the female version of Orange Kitty.  She was just a year old and had grown into quite the “maxi me,” full of life and vigor.  She was struck and killed by a vehicle January 2010.  That loss was wrenching, since she was mostly socialized and Roger and I could have brought her inside….like Elton John’s  Candle in the wind (ok, this is a post for old song lyrics), her life force burned bright but oh so briefly.  I miss her and think of her nearly every day.  And within a week of her death, Tawny, the third littermate, went out and about and was not to return….

The ending for all of us—cat, human, all living things—is ultimately the same.  We are here for only the briefest of moments.  How do we spend those moments, those beats that pass with the ticking of the clock measuring each breath taken?  Do we spend this precious commodity of time in shame and regret?  Or do we share our essence—our love and joy—with those that matter most?

My cats have been and continue to be a wonderful teacher of staying present to the present.  And a reminder of our most precious, enduring commodity: love.  As in the words, attributed, in part, to the Dances of Universal Peace: “All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.”

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Cats have this wonderful way of just being—of being present to the present.  At times, I truly envy this ability.  Cats can just enjoy the cool, refreshing breeze as it whispers a kiss across their whiskers…bask in the healing warmth of the late afternoon sun, chasing the rays as they slither and shimmy through the cracks and crevices… Momentary pleasures or pains.  Fleeting as they are, but pass as they must …until the next moment beckons for attention.  Feed me!  Love me!  Play with me or leave me be! 

Cats exist in the moment.  There is no yesterday—nor do they anticipate tomorrow.  There is no crying over past injustices or fear of future betrayals.  There is no need to obliterate the present with mindless activities or substances… 

What a wonderful life lesson—truly experiencing the present.  And being both an observer and active participant in all sensual aspects of this plane of existence—the sights and sounds and the smells, tastes and touch.  In this lifetime, I have come close to quieting my mind long enough to give me hope that there is more to this corporeal reality, but I have yet to “grok” this concept—which seems so ephemeral and just of reach… 

In this sweet spot, the union of the earthly and the divine, I imagine you have the potential to tap into—or at least touch—eternity.  You get a glimpse of existence much greater than the boundaries of your own flesh, blood and bones.

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