|Archie – September 2, 2011|
I am stretched thin across the dining room floor, belly and chest against the unforgiving floor. An arm to support my head, the other pulling slow arcs of comfort across the back of my struggling kitten. The house is dark and still but for the whirr and hum of cooling fans, hungrily drawing in the storm-fresh air outside. The thunderstorm that slid over the house has moved on, lumbering and growling in the distance.
I call him kitten. Just barely a year old. Not ours for a year. He blinks at me, shifts yet again, trying to find comfort on the nest of sheets and blankets I’ve spread out for him. I can see the lines of pain in him despite his efforts to lean into the fingers scratching behind his ears. Lines as bright and fierce as the orange and caramel that God painted on his fur.
He is dying. I can do nothing to save him.
The truth of it slams hard into my chest and there is pain. I do not fight the tears. Let them slip and fall. I muster my voice to draw words to soothe him. Through the slats of a dining chair, Sacha watches intently, her instinct speaking what my words cannot. Animals sense weakness in their kin; the scent of death snags their nerves and sets their hair to standing.
I start to sing, matching ill-fitting words to a familiar lullaby. Desperate to soothe him to rest, I bite back tears. His head bobs, eyes still open. His tail sweeps up to brush my face. A caress almost. A light, searching response to my own.
I realize then that I am keeping him. He shoves back rest for my sake; he lingers for me. This is the shiv death carves from love, this way we comfort from a place of pain. Slices deep in loss despite the joy of having loved at all.
I rise, place a gentle kiss between his warm ears. I make my way upstairs, lie on my bed and stare at a moon-splashed wall. The fan by the window spins long threads of cool across my flesh.
I am stretched thin. We are, when we love. The twin sword of joy, grief carves into the deepest parts of who we are, leaving us scarred, changed. Touched, but grateful. It is not what is not what is taken from us that leaves us crumbling, but what we give.
‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’
Linking up in the quiet with Michelle today.