I scarcely knew what to say when Jenny informed me this morning that her beloved cat Coco had slept in the sun one last time before being released to the cosmos Saturday. Coco’s health had been failing; she was an older cat for certain. Yet I knew the pain Jenny felt, experienced it all over again as she wept her sorrows upon a sunny day that cared little for her tribulations.
Swimming the depths of my own unflinching depression left me little comfort to offer. I tried, though, reassuring her of the obvious: the pain would last a lifetime; telling her the weeping cannot be contained, nor should it be; holding her as we stared at the bones of the world holding up a blue sky from which sunshine poured endlessly; and letting her know I understood better than most what she felt, and I would not cheapen it with hollow words when holding her could accomplish so much more.
Of course, words do little in such cases, a lesson I learned following Henry‘s death. The tears will come as they wish, when they wish, and nothing can stop that. Losing a beloved, a familiar, is much like losing a bit of our heart. Every loss takes more, and so we are forced to rend ourselves time and again such that we can replenish the well of emotion that becomes drained and dry. For we do it time and again, we of compassion, and we set upon the same painful road over and over despite knowing what ends lie in wait.
Grendel, Coco’s doppelgänger, reminds of what was lost this very weekend, what was lost years ago, and what will be lost soon. Even as I cradled Jenny and let her heartache manifest in tears, I thought of the life waiting at home that careens toward the same destiny. Cursed throughout his years with one wretched ailment after another, inflicted with agonies no creature should be made to endure, Grendel will not see the years Coco saw, will not enjoy as many sunrises and sunsets and sunny afternoons.
Along the boulevard of days rest historical markers signifying empty spaces once filled with cherished souls. And each of us walks that boulevard every day, every moment. We glance this way and that way, and all about us, leaping from the shadows of history, mournful things pass within our vision, no more so than for the heart full of giving for that which cannot be kept.
His trembling a constant reminder of the toll life has taken on his body, I look at Grendel and see within his eyes the clouding of a sunny day. Coco must have looked as burdened when finally her spirit recognized what her flesh screamed upon the winds of time: These are my final hours, my final moments, and soon I go to be one with the universe, to return to that which made me. I see that future here, here in my home, here in my arms as I hold him and caress him and speak to him. Even his purring sounds weaker than once it did.
What grim specter besets me now sees its essence grow colder still, an icy hand scraped against my inner self and grasping at what torments as yet lie undisturbed. A falling of dominoes brings death and its kith and kin, darkness and its ilk, anguish and its brethren. I envy not the torture of Jenny’s soul now, especially so soon after the loss of her mother. I see in her experiences my own destiny, with Grendel’s fate hanging in the skeletal hands of that which cannot be denied and my own father’s health rapidly succumbing to the ills of a future already written based upon a past too clear to deny.
No creature of conscience can escape the emptiness. Why would we want to? Doing so only means we have not loved. For that reason alone, I hope never to be full.
[that shadowy apparition with golden eyes floating in the background of the second photo is none other than Vazra]