Chop Wood and Carry Water

My exact nature today is shaky. I’d like to start over but I can’t move. I must have been born with this sadness because I do not remember a time when I wasn’t ankle deep in mealy black dirt. I’ve never minded. I love the smell of earth. Even the smell of my cat’s kidney-failing pee reminds me as much of eucalyptus as her impending finish. She’s my vanishing girl, on her way of out, becoming slighter and slower as a tumor webs her organs together and blocks her colon. Just in time to mingle with the dead and transition through the part in the curtains that opens with autumn.

My throat hurts. I suppose sadness is shade on an overly bright day. All these feelings are the price I pay for a heartbeat. I just hope Brian is right about cats not fearing death. I hate to think she’s afraid like I am. I’m pretty sure I will never love another cat the way I love Burl Mello. She gave me a taste for subtle beasts.

Every day before I get home from work I wonder what she will look like when I find her dead. Will her tongue be sticking out from choking? Will she fit in a shoebox? Will she be curled up on her pillow, as still as a stone. Will she collapse in her cat box where she spends too much time staring and not enough time pooping?  Maybe I’ll find her in the closet between Brian’s boots and my sandals. Will I recognize her? If it’s the weekend, will she die in her chair on the porch or in Brian’s arms when the merciful in-home euthanizer comes a’ calling.

This morning, when I kissed the top of her buttery-smelling head, I wondered about her tiny brains inside her tiny skull. Are they shrinking like her muscle mass? Would I be brave enough to boil the fur off her bones so I could save them? Could we bear to burn her body at the beach in a funeral pyre or maybe sneak her into an inconspicuous hole in Piedmont Cemetery? Will I even care enough about her dead body not to throw it into a dumpster?

But Burl’s not dead yet. I’m just admitting how I feel to The Big Picture, to myself, and to you, my witness. I am so grateful to have the privilege of living with such a sweetheart, our Tappy, our Oprah, our chirping potato on toothpicks. She slept through thirteen years of quality television with us on the couch, and dreamt about the mean streets of Pinole, of her wild life before us. I’m amazed how I can show up for this loss, to be okay with the unchecked hot tears, walking around with a slack mouth and swollen eyes. Yet I chop wood and carry water. I guess I'm morbid, but hell, I’m alive with death!

I hope we can give her what she needs all the way to the end. I try to leave space for her to rest, and possibly slip away. To be together for now, even in different rooms is enough for me while she still breaths.