She was way ahead
of me. She already had a boyfriend when another guy took one look at her and
said, “She’s the one.” She didn’t cotton
to the interloper at first, but that didn’t deter him. He won her over, as I discovered while
watching the documentary that covered their impending marriage and new life
together as a young couple. The bride
and groom both had down syndrome. And I
This had happened to me before. Feeling lonely and depressed (in part because
I was single, but mostly because I was alone since my mother’s death) had been
a way of life for me for years. Depression
was my default mode. I was on a
crosstown Manhattan bus at night going nowhere.
In the midst of feeling sorry for myself I caught sight of
a young lady sitting across from me. She
had down syndrome. My heart softened as
my mind switched focus from my woes
to thoughts of her lonely life. Now, there was someone who’d never find someone. I, at least stood a good chance, being “relatively”
normal. In fact, I knew I’d find someone someday.
Or year. Or century, as I liked
to joke. For a while I wasn’t even sure in which millennium I would be
mated. Since Y2K came and went with me still solo, that answered that.
As I took in the young woman on the bus, my heart compassionately
aflutter, my eye was startled by a glint
of gold on her left hand. By God, that
did it! Even she was married! She was a
member of the club and I was still out in the cold. I couldn’t believe it, though I could see the
humor in it, too. I fluctuated from
depression to compassion to exasperation. Sigh. Maybe
her husband had a brother.
The documentary was called “Monica and David” and I
heartily recommend it. The short film captured
the unconditional love bestowed upon Monica and David by their respective
mothers and Monica’s generous step-dad (Monica’s bio-dad split 6 months after
she was born). This was a beautiful,
inclusive family that did everything to
give their kids a full, happy, adult life.
Complete with a beautiful wedding.
I started crying almost immediately watching the
film. The love and affection between the
couple was sweet as could be. They
called each other “Honey” and “My Love” and touched each other tenderly, with
happy hugs and kisses aplenty. And they
were surrounded by a warm, loving, watchful family. Which I was not.
Netflix, in a stroke of cruel genius, delivered this flick
to me on my wedding anniversary. Not
that I cared, but it added a bit of salt to the wound given the subject matter
(a happy wedding), since my marriage (not so happy) ended many years ago, and,
13 years into the new millennium, I find myself still single. My cat had died just days ago, mother’s day was
around the bend, and my mother had managed to die the day before mother’s day, making
mother’s day doubly depressing ever since. If I
were a lesser person, I’d be maudlin. I
was only crying because of the movie.
When I finished watching, I got an email from my publisher
posting my first quarter earnings. My first book, RAVING VIOLET, came out four months ago. After 18 months of work, great fun,
excitement, enthusiasm, my financial compensation was, well...
started crying again.
Weeks before I’d been fretting about money and my cat’s
health. I went into my local Catholic church
(it’s modern, peaceful, and seconds from my house). My dog comes in with me, unbeknownst to
anyone but God (who, by the way, adores her).
My dog is utterly silent and sits patiently in her bag. I can talk to people elsewhere for an hour
and they have no idea there’s anyone in my purse. She’s a stealth pup. The peace of God is for all Her
(well-behaved) creatures. Why shouldn’t
I bring her to church? She needs a respite from
the noise and grit of the streets, too.
I was surprised to find Jesus this fine day covered by a
drop cloth. I’d never seen such a thing.
Were they painting? I saw no signs of
it. But the “drop cloth” was purple, so
I quickly discerned that this was a fashion choice, not a renovation. They must have been playing some Catholic game
I wasn’t familiar with, like “Pin the Tail on the Crucifix” or, better yet, “Hide
and Seek”. Jesus was playing peek a
boo, but I couldn’t imagine why. Who was He hiding from? Perhaps He was sick of everyone staring at
him non-stop. Mimi (bagged) and I took
our spot on the bench and heaved our usual sighs of relief upon settling in. Here was respite from the noise of the city
and reprieve from the stresses of daily life. We softened into the silence.
I’m no Christian, as most of you know by now, so I’m not
up on the rules, regulations, and past-times of the Church. I’ve always referred to the Eucharist as “cookies
and juice”, so you shouldn’t be surprised that I thought (with a smile), ”Oh, he’s just hiding.” He’s pretending to be dead cause it’s almost
Easter, then he’s gonna jump up and surprise us on Easter morning! Jesus was the original Jack in the Box.
When I realized he was playing hide and seek I
decided that I could go along with it.
Guy wasn’t really dead, anyway, was he?
Son of God and all. That “dead” act
was a big ruse to see if we were all really
paying attention. Well, Jesus’
message via the resurrection is ours as well.
I’m due a resurrection, I don’t
know about you.
My cat had been sick on and off for about two years. A urinary problem
here. A dental problem there. This past December she was gravely ill,
as I was entering the hospital for surgery.
This was a double whammy scary sad “ouch”. I begged her to stay. She
But she was on the fence since, oh, November, and since the doctor’s
medicines didn’t cure her, I decided to take the law into my own hands.
I treated her with herbal tinctures to
support the three organs which were inflamed.
I force-fed her since she was hungry, but wouldn’t eat. We were stuck
between a rock and a hard
place. I believe in miracles and kept
waiting for her to turn a corner. She
never did. Her last week I took the
day’s morbid evidence into account and considered whether “today was the
day”. It was not.
Two days later, it was.
There were tumors all over her body.
They had sprung up overnight, like mushrooms. Her now obvious lymphoma went undiagnosed
in January. I put her down.
The last few months of her kitty life Angela manifested some of
my mother’s dying symptoms from pancreatic cancer. The same organs were afflicted (liver,
gallbladder, pancreas). And there were "messes" everywhere. It took me back to my
Mom’s sickness which lingered and worsened over two years to the point that I
could not wait for it to be over. The
thing I dreaded most in the world, the loss of my mother, became preferable to
the daily hell of watching her suffer and fall apart (we worked with a hospice
and I took care of my mother, and her messes, at my sister’s house).
My mother died on a supremely gorgeous May day. Everyone around me
seemed quite happy. In fact, everyone around me (at college) was
graduating in a few weeks. Including
me. The disconnect between my daze of endless
tears and the brilliantly beautiful day was cavernous. People
celebrated life, spring, and happy
transitions while I steeped in sickness and death.
Angela died on just such a beauteous day at the same time
of year. Spring had finally sprung in
Manhattan and everyone was out with their sunglasses, boyfriends and shopping
bags, laughing and having brunch at sidewalk cafes. I passed by them while on the bus to the vet
and cried the whole ride down as I stroked Angela in her carrier.
Never fun on a good day, I’ve grown too familiar with the sad
procedure of putting a pet down. As I
spent my final moments alone with her, I stared curiously at the repeating
purple infinity pattern that kept swirling across the computer screen in the examining
room. Infinity. There it was.
Angela was at the Gates of Infinity.
While I believe in “forever”, the unlimited nature of
spirit and consciousness, saying goodbye to the mortal form of our loved ones remains
a bitch. I wish I could say I’ve
conquered that one. But I gave her
Angela a good death. She was held by me and aided by three gentle muses, the lovely staff at the vet’s office I
For the first time in 28 years, I am without a cat.
As quiet and gentle as my girl was, the silence produced
by her absence is pointed.
One of my teacher’s used to say “Always, always, the
comings and goings.” Yes, this is
life. Someone comes in. Someone goes out. Things are always in flux, though it may not
seem that way for times at a stretch.
Yet I’ve been hit with an inordinate amount of goings since I was five. And the comings I have wanted haven’t
come. More feeling sorry for myself,
here and there, even decades after the last human death. Well, that’s my cross to bear.
But my experience of Angela’s death has been unique. It seems I have made some progress in dealing
with grief over the millennia. I did
most of my keening and wailing before she died. I was not as bowled over by her death as I was
by my father’s, mother’s, grandparents’, and my many cats until now. What had changed?
Mimi and I went to church again while two people were tuning
the organ, a woman at the keyboards and a man on a ladder. We listened
for a few minutes. Easter lilies were everywhere. As we left I saw the
sign, “He is risen! Alleluia!”
Like a good loaf of bread, Jesus rose.
The drop cloth was gone.
As with Jesus’ good friends, I have heard from Angela
since her passing.
But there’s a little something called “discontinuous change”
I want to discuss with you, first.
While change, or “evolution” may seem to go on at the
same, invisible, plodding speed, there are some exceptions. If you look at
water getting colder, the temperature drops steadily until something “magic”
happens and all the water crystals freeze.
At once. Not one at a time, but “whoosh”, otherwise known as a quantum
leap, (or discontinuous change).
Everything steady and predictable leads up to that magic moment of
transformation. Or transfiguration, a
complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.
Like a butterfly from a chrysalis.
When laying the groundwork of our lives, it’s pretty much
brick by brick, day after day. Sometimes
it rains and we don’t lay any bricks.
Sometimes there’s a mudslide and it sets us back some. Perhaps we stop because we realize our blueprint
isn’t right. Back to the drawing board we
go. One day it’s sunny and we lay the
whole foundation. Day by day we build
with our thoughts, feelings, choices, changes and behaviors. Everything we read, eat, listen to, everyone
we talk to, how we spend our time, what we say.
Every choice is a building block.
The fact of the matter is that most change IS continuous,
even if we don’t see it. Life is
constantly in flux, our cells die and renew.
We don’t see seeds growing beneath the frozen earth. We don’t see buds of new leaves on trees in
January. We don’t see the surprises,
both “good” and “bad” that await us tomorrow.
But they’re there. Slowly,
inexorably, they respond to the call of the Sun, fulfilling our destinies. Some days, seemingly “overnight”, those changes
The week before Angela passed away a halogen bulb blew in my
kitchen and my toaster went up in smoke (I thought it was the toast, but it was
the toaster, black smoke billowing forth). Spirit communicates through
electricity, since both are energy. One
morning, a day or two after Angela’s passing, I was in the kitchen preparing
breakfast and heard her meow, loud and clear.
I turned to look for her. The day
after she died I plugged my iPhone into my computer to charge and sync them and got
a message from iPhoto regarding the importation of 35 new photos from my phone
to my computer. This was clearly a
software glitch, as I’d not taken any photos in weeks. Not wanting to lose any photos either on my
phone or computer, I agreed to the download.
Once the transfer was complete, photos of Angela taken on May 30th,
2012, popped up on my screen. There she
was, looking up at me from my screen. I didn’t freak out; I accepted it as
normal spirit communication, though it wasn’t normal computer behavior. In all my years as an iPhone user that has
never happened. And of all my hundreds
of photos, the shots that popped up were Angela’s.
I’ve heard Angela’s spirit engaging in an old, formerly tiresome
habit, that of licking my plastic bag collection as she protested her hunger,
very often in the face of food I’d given her.
Since her passing I’ve heard her little feet walking on the newspaper on
the floor (a backup bathroom option for my small dog) and general “unexplained”
movement, including some plastic lids spontaneously and noisily
sliding/popping/dropping off of my storage container collection when nothing
was near the pile of plastic to disturb it.
She’s just playing.
Today is mother’s day.
I’m spending it with my dachshund.
My mother died yesterday, May 11th, 28 years ago. Happy mother’s day, Mom, and love to my spirit kitties, apparently all in
the custody and care of my mother, according to a medium, who accurately
described my cats, and my mother.
Life is always in balance.
Some things are seen. Some are unseen. Some seem to be missing or
hidden. We must focus on and love what is here, and gracefully
embrace the existence of what is “not here”, as being elsewhere.
Hibernating. Transforming for its next rendition. Who wants to play
the same game, forever?
I’m single for now, but now is not forever. I told Angela to come back in another kitty
body, and I can’t wait until she does, someday, somewhere. My “starter” royalty check was just
that. A start, not a finish. Like Jesus, I’m ready to spring out of the box. Alleluia.
the book is available in print, e-book and audio (recorded by me) from Amazon,
Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Audible.com, SmashWords, KOBO, AllRomance.com, and
Black Opal Books.