Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Making Peace with the Circle of Life

An owl ate our cat.

For the past 9 months, Ansel's stick-figured family drawings have included a small black figure with a long tail and whiskers.  Moki was a member of our family.  When we adopted Moki in late July  I blogged about my tentative feelings toward having a pet...the fur, the poop and pee, the claws, the smell, the responsibility, and the preparation for  it's inevitable death.   Recognizing the positive experience it would be for the kids, I recessed my hesitation and jumped right on the teeter totter of pet ownership, knowing that there would be ups and downs on this ride.

To my surprise, the ups outweighed the downs quite liberally and the teeter totter rarely moved.

I had to hide the butter dish and continually scolded her for jumping on and prowling the counters.  She and Ansel had a few tangles and Emmy once tripped over her coming down the stairs.  But other than that, she was a purrfect cat (sorry, I couldn't resist).

After just 3 weeks, I let Moki wrap her little paws around my heartstrings.  I began to recognize her language and could translate her meows.  She had one for when she was hungry and one when one of her toys was stuck under the piano.  She had a meow when she wanted to go outside, to come inside, and a meow for when she was looking for the company of a human.

She could slapshoot dice across the room better than Wayne Gretsky.  She was cuddly, but not in an annoying way.  She wanted to be next to someone, not on top of them.  Her first few months here, we made her sleep in the garage.  But as the weather grew colder and we grew fonder,  we couldn't stomach leaving her in the concrete jungle.  Savanna would tenderly collect her before she went to bed, stroke her a few times, and leave her at the end of her bed, where Moki would stretch her paws and yawn for few minutes before falling asleep at Savanna's feet.

Corey often ridiculed me for having lengthy conversations with the cat and I retorted that she was the only one in the family who never rolled her eyes at my ramblings and who would even often respond with an acquiescent meow.  She would accompany the family on our hikes and follow along at a playful distance.  Our neighbors commented at the scene, saying it was a most amusing phenomenon.

Maybe this loss has been so hard for me because my maternal instincts drive me to fiercely protect anything that is in my care......and I failed Moki beyond repair.  I was the one who opened the door for her, even after hearing the soothing cooing of the owl.   And maybe I have been repeatedly inhaling pain this week because I loved her and I shudder at the thought of a violent death.

My relationship with Mother Nature, up to this point, has been soundly positive, even constructive, in my opinion.  I have humbly prostrated myself in earth crevases, patiently waiting for threatening lightening storms to pass at high altitudes.  I have frozen in reverant awe as a Cougar crossed my path on a mountain bike ride.  I  routinely relieve Her residence of beer bottles, cigarette packages, and candy wrappers.  I thought we had an agreement.  I feel betrayed.

I couldn't bring myself to go in the back yard much of last week.  Just being outside felt heavy and dark.

Corey wanted me to capture some photos of the Camas that has showered our land with delicate blossoms.  Next week the Camas will be gone and the Balsam Root will make their short appearance.  I reluctantly got my camera and took some heavy steps down the slope to our backyard.  I wedged my elbows in the dirt and came face to face with this intricate monocot.  I noticed that an arachnid had the shortsighted hubris to attach its web from one stem to another.  These flowers will be dead by next Friday.  

Some verses from Walt Whitman's The Compost  have never been so relevant.

Something startles me where I thought I was safest, 
I withdraw from the still woods I loved.
I will not go now on the pastures to walk
I will not touch my flesh to the earth to renew me
O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?  
The grass of spring covers the prairies
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward, 
The apple buds cluster together on the apple-branches
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves
Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions.  

I know that I will eventually make peace with Mother Nature.  She is, after all, a soul mate of sorts.   Just today, I was able to roll down the windows in the car and swallow gulps of soul-satisfying spring air.  Just like the spider, I attached myself to something that had a fleeting life.  I will remember the beauty that Moki brought into our lives.


Kaerlig said...


Come and have one/all of the kittens I couldn't abort if you could stomach a relacement.

嘉容嘉容 said...

Use a book as a bee does flowers.......................................................

Elisa said...

So sad. I can relate. I think I sent you my cheesy slide show set to music of our dog Hannah after she died. We finally broke down a while ago and got another dog which I was totally against because of all of the work, but like you said, she won me over and it's so worth it now, especially when I see the kids getting so much out of it.