falling snow

Saturday, December 20, 2014

This Day

Written November 12 - December 17, 2014


It is the day I hoped away, wished away, prayed away. 

The one I didn't want to ever come.

It came anyway. 

Today.

It always comes, doesn't it?

You know the one.

September 29, 2012
Uninvited, it insinuated itself into my somewhat calm, somewhat orderly, predictable day-to-day, creating its heartbreak and leaving a trail of tears in its path. 

January 25, 2008
But it hasn't taken long, only a few hours really, to understand what the heart already knows. It is necessary, this day. In it, as in all days, lies a gift whenever we are open to receive it. The gift is peace granting freedom from weakness, confusion, a body no longer capable of a quality life. It isn't easy for us, the ones left behind, for we continue to love, to cry, to wish for even one more day.

November 2, 2013
My arms are empty now, no longer cradling the blackest cat in all the land. Carrying her. Holding her. Nurturing her. Loving her. 

November 11, 2004
And yet, my heart is full to bursting with the love and joy, loyalty and devotion she graced upon me as we companioned together this journey for one-third of my life. I continue to be in awe each time I recall the strength of her spirit, the determination within her to triumph.

First Christmas - 1995
"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose."

"In the cold and snow of winter, there's a spring that waits to be. 
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see." 

"For God will raise you up on eagle's wings, bear you on the breath of dawn. 
Make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of God's hand." 

"I am with you always." 

Words. 
Words of assurance, comfort. These known words carry us to the home safe within us, granting us some semblance of peace and security when all about is muddled and confused, when there is little offer of consolation. They are the words we trust in for their comfort is familiar, their message assuring, words we have heard and turned to many times before.

First Photo - September, 1995
Nineteen years, six and one-half months. 

Seven thousand one-hundred thirty-one days, approximately. 

First cat. 

A spring day in early May, 1995. July, 1995. September 5, 2012. October 25, 2013.

November 12, 2014. 

Numbers. Dates. 
Uncharted, yet innumerable additional remarkable, ordinary every days, holidays, special days, moments in time. Days of quantity, days of quality. Days together. Countless days and still not enough days. One more day.

December 25, 2003
TC. TC Cat. Tree Climber. Tree Cat. 

T. Teedle. Teedle-E. Teedly-C. 

Black Cat. Blackest cat in all the land. Best black cat around. TC Black Cat. Baby Black Cat. 

Sweet Pea. Buttercup. Snickers. Snicker-nickers. 

Sweet cat. My sweet girl. My girl. Girlfriend. 

Names. 
Names of endearment. Names for love.

December 4, 2005
I have prepared for this day for over two years and yet I suppose one is never really prepared. In the days leading up to this single day, I feared I saw it coming. Still, I had seen it before, and TC rallied. Dr. S and I had another conversation at TC's exam in October, initiated by me, in an effort to prepare. We spoke of quality once again; from the onset of this journey, it was important that her life be filled with quality.This journey was to be about her, giving her the days she was meant to have. Reluctantly, I made the appointment for her B12 injection on November 12th, although I realized it probably wouldn't be necessary. TC had become very weak, stumbling, sleeping soundly, but continuing to eat well. I knew the signs. Our time together was spent cuddling her, gently handling her, and allowing her to sleep as often as she desired. The days were cold; we couldn't be outside, but we looked out the windows together and she napped a bit in the sunshine. I was reasonably certain, but not absolutely, my return home would be alone this time. We talked, she and I, and I was prepared. I thought. There is a difference in anticipating an event and absorbing the reality of the finality. The question from D, our technician, "How is TC doing?" was more than I could answer; I could only shake my head. Dr. S carefully examined TC, gently handling her as he always did, stroking her, turning away, updating the chart. I still hear his whisper, "it's time." And time stopped suspended in that moment. I am certain my breath stopped as well. I couldn't look up. I could only stroke the blackest cat in all the land as she laid under her blanket, curled against me. I asked some questions, barely audible. I always have questions. I requested, and was granted, time together, the two of us. An hour later I cradled TC's head in my left hand, stroking her chest, her side with my right. I kissed the top of her head, longing to imprint her sweet scent into my memory. Hesitantly, I began our often times daily exchange, asking her one more time, "TC Black Cat, do you have any idea how much you are loved?" I waited, gathering myself. And one more time, as I have done countless times before, I answered for her, "More than you will ever, ever know. More than you will ever know, baby black cat." 

February 14, 2007
The Trio has now become the Duo. Spirit and Abbey will grieve, each in their own way, as they did for the canines, Chelsea and Benji, who have gone on before. They will go on. They will rearrange the order between them, although to me it will look much the same. Spirit will maintain her position as leader, princess, diva even though she has always been the middle cat. She will continue to make the rules and enforce her rules upon our entire family. And Abbey will let Spirit continue to believe she is the leader, all the while doing whatever her playful, carefree, do as you please spirit inspires her to do. In the days to come, they will receive more rounds of playtime, cuddles, snuggles, and love than they ever imagined or desired whether they want them or not.  

Easter Sunday - March 31, 2013

March 24, 2014
And yes, dh and I will also grieve, each in our own way. We will each recall different events, share memorable stories, and combined piece together a complete life story with one stray wild black cat, "the kitten," as we originally called her. We will tell the story over again of how she lived in the squirrel's nest and ran head first down the old oak's trunk at the rattle of her food bowl. We will recall my insistence that we call the fire department to rescue her from the cedar tree, and dh's veto, instead choosing to climb the extension ladder, lacing the tree branches with deli turkey to coax her down. It will not be easy this time, for the more dependent she became upon my care, the closer we grew. The last few weeks have been hectic preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas; the cleaning, cooking, shopping, and planning have occupied the space where grief ordinarily would have resided. I know myself well. The days ahead will be for remembering, reflecting. I will wander, begin projects, and set them aside. A restlessness of sorts will find me uncertain what to do with a free schedule once ruled by the clock for feedings, fluids, medications, caretaking for a dear friend. The day will come when I will take out the to-do list and begin again checking off some items. But not today. Or tomorrow. Or even the day after that. No, these days are for remembering, for treasuring. Perhaps I will go through the photo albums and print the digital photos on the computer. I will think I need a print of each and every one and remind myself to be selective. I will make a photo album just for TC. And maybe some scrapbook pages, too. Yes, these would be good projects, ones for total immersion. Catharsis.


December, 1996 - Once TC came inside, Chelsea claimed her as her own kitten.
December, 1996 - Never far from Mama Chelsea's sight, even at bathtime!
December, 1996 - Clean, shiny and dry once again, time to snuggle against Chelsea
for some warmth and a long nap.
I have no regrets. It is what our life is about, isn't it? To live in such a manner that when we look back we can say we gave our best, fulfilled our promises. It isn't always possible, but we do the best we can. I promised TC from her early days as a frightened kitten that if she dared to trust, I would care for her in any way she needed. I made decisions with TC's interest in the forefront to honor her. The busyness, the errands, the so-called obligations, commitments were set aside for the more treasured time with our girl. I like this slower pace I have come to accept the last two years; it wasn't always easy, quieting the voices of "expectation" or "must do." I intend to honor it and draw upon the lessons I learned because of one so small. "Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." I am humbled that this quiet creature, one who always hung back, one who asked for so little, gave us her best, and tolerated so much could instill an awakening to accept a different path. A shift in perspective to a quieter, gentler way. 

June 22, 2007
I did not say good-bye to the blackest cat in all the land for she will always be part of our family and dwell within our hearts. She has influenced who we are and the way we live. How do you say good-bye to the one who has invoked so much laughter and joy by her antics? When she was a very young kitten and first came inside, she received 10 stitches for a ruptured abscess on her side, possibly caused by running into a stick in the yard. She was supposed to remain quiet. Her vet called one evening to find out how she was. Did I dare tell him that while we were speaking she scaled the living room drapes and was currently hanging at the top near the curtain rod? No, there are some things even the vet doesn't need to know. No, I could not tell her good-bye, the one whose fur absorbed countless tears and whose ears heard the secrets of the heart. Instead, I thanked her for choosing us, told her how grateful we were that the best black cat in all the land claimed us. She was our first cat and as such acquired a certain prestige; not that she was any more special than the others, but there is a certain distinction, respect, hierarchy that comes with being first, providing our first glimpses into cat frolics and cat wisdom. 

December 7, 2014
We went together, dh and I, to pick up TC's pawprint from the vet's office on my birthday. I was so touched when they said they made one. I waited with the anticipation of a child awaiting Santa for the day I would hold the print in my hands. There was no finer gift this day than the small clay cast which allowed me to trace the imprint of her paw with my fingers. It was the first ornament placed on our tree this year, hung together by dh and me as soon as the lights were lit.

October 4, 2003
The following verse is displayed in the kitty exam room at our vet's office, a room I have frequented many times and often too many times over the last two years. I have read and re-read this verse, knowing one day, a not so distant day, its meaning would change; it would be written for me.

"We who choose to surround ourselves
with lives more temporary than our own,
live within a fragile circle;
easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps,
we would still live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only 
certain immortality, never fully
understanding the necessary plan."
-- Irving Townsend

Blessed be your heart, dear TC.

6 comments:

  1. Sally, your writing evokes such a beautiful picture of love, companionship, and family shared with T C. May she forever remain in your heart, my friend. Sending many many hugs.

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  2. what a loving tribute to TC - brought tears to my eyes. beautiful writing, beautiful pictures - thanks for sharing. hugs.

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  3. Beautiful Blackest Cat in all the Land & beautiful, loving tribute. I cried reading your post & looking at the pictures. It is so true--we would live no other way, in spite of the grief when we loose them. I know Spirit & Abbey are getting & giving loads of love. Holiday blessings to you & your family, Sally.

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  4. I was too emotional to comment the first time I read this, Sally. So I will try today. You have shared from your deepest heart about TC and all she meant to you. This post is a treasure and a tribute to the Blackest Cat and to you, for the love and devotion you had for TC. You have devoted the past two years to loving and caring for TC and ensuring she had the finest care. And now, you have begun your journey of grief and are wise to be good to yourself, to set aside the "shoulds", and to cherish the memories of love that TC brought to your life. Your story is so eloquently told. It is a beautiful documentation of TC's story and her place in your life. This Winter of loss will turn into a beautiful Spring of memories, in its own time. Much love.

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  5. I am so sorry to read that you have lost your beloved kitty! I can't even imagine how hard it is - I dread the day when our two sweet fur babies go - I am in denial that it will ever happen and wish that they would live forever. But as they get older I definitely am treasuring the moments together more and spoiling them more too. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story - it brought tears to my eyes!

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  6. Condolences on the death of TC, Sally! I hadn't seen this post before but wondered how your cats were doing - so sorry you had to go through this! And you know I've done the same - it never gets easier. Just loved reading your beautiful tribute and hope you are finding peace with Courtney and your furry family. Big hugs!

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