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Monday, November 5, 2012

I Sway with the rest of Them...


I sway with the rest of them...
... turning translucent and golden at the extremities, bending nearly double, shivering in the torrents, resting in the fog, reluctantly easing our grip, holding life in knobby outstretched limbs, reaching transfixed for the sun.

But I tell you this, we do not break.
* * *

I still hardly have words, and therefore can not even begin to thank you for the love, the light, the sharing and the kindness you've shown to me in this last week.  Thai was something to me for which there is no human language.  This is how we began.

It was April 12th, 2000, and the first hard rains of the year had hit.  Sacramento is forever declaring drought, but when the storms hit, they fall in blinding sheets.   I left work in the black of night as the drops began to land, pressed shirt crusty with food stains, legs aching from the long shift.  A few miles south, in the sprawling suburbs, a feral cat labored in a musty wood pile.  I drove my hulking truck up onto the freeway, hit the first dip in the ramp and lost all traction, spinning out of control until being hit by another driver who never even touched the breaks.  About the same time Thai was birthed, in an anonymous litter, in the wrong, but so very right, backyard.
The next day, while I stayed at the hospital, fractured and laid flat, he was found, alone, smaller than the palm of the hand and utterly, utterly helpless.  Some well-intending homeowner scooped him from the wood and dropped him off at their closest veterinary hospital, sure that the semi-rural clinic had plenty of room for one more kitten to love.  The tragic point few seem to understand is that it is a rare clinic who can take on and raise wild infants; but this clinic had something else to offer in the form of a huge-hearted technician and her animal adoring roomie.  Me.
On the 14th I was released back to my little apartment, a.k.a. "no pets allowed," a.k.a. "the animal shelter," about the same time my roommate brought Thai home to the fray.  I couldn't walk, I could barely stand, and I certainly couldn't take decent care of myself.  But I could care for that kitten, and did, as both our lives depended on it.
I fed him with a tiny dropper, wrapped him for warmth, and held him against my throat so he could fall asleep to the sound of a beating heart.  He first opened his eyes to me, my voice was the first he heard.  He grew healthier, fluffier, stronger-willed, and when he ran through the apartment, his massive striped tail would stream out behind his tiny body like a lemur.
That spring we took in so many forlorn beasts I lost count, healing them, feeding them, finding them homes and kissing the tops of their furry heads.  But Thai was different.  He was all mine, and I was all his.
He was dapper, debonair, independent to a fault, spunky, utterly striking, and full of charisma.  He was a talker, a luxury hound, a rabbit-furred little man who should have worn a velvet smoking jacket.  He rode my shoulder like a parrot, kept company in the studio every day, and slept at night nestled into the crook of my shoulder, face against my neck.

Last April he turned 12, but a younger 12 the world has never seen.  We joked about how he was probably going to outlive us all, but at the very least, pass the 20 year marker.
Then a couple weeks ago he started getting sick here and there.  He showed not a single other sign, so we just kept a tight watch.  Then he suddenly refused food, and a semi-lethargy set in.  Somewhere buried deep inside I knew.  At the vet we had a slew of tests run which led to a sonogram.  Four days passed with no food and no water, no matter the delectable concoctions I attempted to whip up for him. The results were the worst they could be.  He had pancreatic cancer which had metastasized to his stomach, and a tumor that had grown so quickly, eating and drinking were no longer even possible.

I held him against me at the end, and when he left I felt him tangibly rest against my chest for a few blindingly bright seconds.  He left because that body was no longer what he needed, but in that moment, he also left me with a reservoir of peace inside.
I miss him more than I can even explain.
I'm just so sad without him; he would be sitting right here on my lap if it was but a week ago.  The house feels less-than without his huge presence.  And even now, my fingers are choked up and my eyes burning.

So I ask this of you:
Whoever you have that you love, be they furred or feathered or smooth skinned, kiss the top of their head, not for me but for you, because love is what we have.
* * *

23 comments:

Joyful said...

Amen, sister. This poignant story of love and physical loss reminds me of my own furry friend. Hugs and kisses to the top of your head. xx

Cristen said...

Such a beautiful life you gave him! You gave him 12 years longer than he may have had if it wasn't for the kind soul who brought him to your friend. I hope Freya and Sancho can bring you some sort of solace as you go through this process. Sending you love, light and huge hugs!! Georgie and Wilson are sending you wet, sloppy puppy kisses as well.

Cat said...

♥♥♥
swaying with you my friend
my heart aches....

love and light

windrock studio said...

This is the sad part of loving. I do understand, we had our boy, "Bubba," with us for 18 years ~ still miss him.
I appreciate all the honest and bright pieces of your life that you share.

artist in the arctic said...

I ache for you and am sad to learn you lost your sweet little cat man. My heart is your heart and I promise you I will squeeze and love my furry babes extra.

Sending you love and comfort across the airwaves. xo

Karin Bremer said...

The most beautiful feline ode I have read.
Indeed, my eyes are burning as well.
So sorry for the loss of your fur baby.
I understand fully.... I think I have a half feline-heart beating in my chest.

nancycreations said...

My eyes tear up and the tears slide down my face, I truly feel your loss. I have been blessed many times over in my lifetime with a wonderful four legged treasure. Three years ago coming out of a bitter divorce at 50 years of age I stumbled into the local vets office to take my sis cat in for an eye infection . A friend who knew I was going asked me to see if they had any puppies that needed a home she wanted a small dog puppy for keep company with her other dog, well I asked and there were three pups handraised by the staff their mom had been dumped pregnant tied to their front door. The wonderful lady who raised them was 8mts pregnant. Needless to say I fell head over hills with the one who had huge feet and now weighs in at 70lbs my friend never got a puppy but I did at the one time in my life I needed her she needed me too . My heart breaks for you and your loss take care. nancy

elly said...

Oh, lady. I'm sorry about Thai. He was clearly loved, and loved in return. Happy thoughts, hey x

Brandi said...

My heart aches after reading this. I'm so sorry. Our lives are so full with the knowing and loving of our friends. Sending love and hugs.

Valerianna said...

So intense... and beautiful. Loss like this truly allows us to feel the depth of our love. I held my mother 3 weeks ago as she took her last breath - and now, sadness and peace mingle like a long braid, stretching out before me - a bridge I must walk these days.

Healing blessings to you.

Janet Theilen said...

The courage that it takes to hold a beloved pet in their final moments is so hard to muster up. But I truly believe it is the last and best gift we can give. To be in the comfort of his beloved human arms in his last moment means he experienced love and security and trust till the very end. You blessed him as much as he blessed you. I'm so sorry for your loss.

MJ said...

Thank you for sharing your life with Thai with us, it was beautiful...I am so sorry for your loss, I know it hurts deeply :(.

Unfortunately I had to put down our sweet little rat, Spud, just this morning. I am so sad...

Much love to all those who have opened their hearts to animal friends--they are such casa blessings to us in their short lives...

XO

molly said...

My heart hurts for you and the loss of your sweet kittyboy. I will give my furry catbeasts a smooch and snuggle them extra tight tonight. Hugs and good vibes to you and your family, lovely lady.

UmberDove said...

Each and every one of my sisters here: Thank you for holding such a gentle space, for hearing, for understanding, for sharing. This is so not the first, nor I'm sure will it be the last, that you have helped me through the rough.

Fredrika Johnson said...

I'm in tears after reading your beautiful story. The only thing worse than losing your friend, would have been not knowing and loving him at all. That is how I felt when I lost my dear cat friend last May. Love is always a huge gift, no matter in what kind of a package it meets us. And what a privilege it is to be loved by a cat. Hugs and warms thoughts to you!

prairiegirl said...

I've been thinking of you for days now. I've been holding my Skye girl close to my neck, to hear her rhythmic purr. I wipe a tear as I write this, because I know you're still hurting and your story of how it all began is all so heart wrenching. I hope with every day it gets easier for you. I hope you can find yourself in nature and remember Thai and what you both had in each other. LOVE and peace

Maedeana said...

I'm so relieved to see your post...been worrying about you all week. :(

kathleen van buskirk said...

such a wonderful story of a soulmate. hope he is running through fields in heaven.

Mandy said...

Yes, yes, it is. Light and love to you.

Heidi said...

This is a beautiful post for your beloved friend. There's nothing like a pet, nothing at all.

pencilfox said...

"....bending nearly double....but i tell you this, we do not break."

i know this. i KNOW this.
but, then: why do our hearts break?

and, then. just now: an image just popped in to my mind.
an image of a heart actually breaking in two.
an image of that broken heart being filled with love so unimaginable, so real yet so much like a spirit-vapour....this love refilling the heart so that it can heal from the inside out.

i pray that someday all my friends who have gone before me will kiss the top of my furry head as i enter where they wait for me....because i know, i KNOW, i will slide into that home on my belly, a forlorn beast in need of love and a welcome-home....

i love you, dear sister.

Allisunny S. said...

I love you.
Worried less about your heart now that we talked - in fact I am convinced that a brightness the likes of which you've never known is coming into your life
born of the hard work
and loss
of this time.

Here,
A

Jenni said...

I'm crying into my cup of tea, so sorry for your loss, so glad of the beautiful times you shared xx