This week I watched our beloved Blackie sleep his way to glory.
Almost 15 years ago he came to us determined to stay. If you believe in another realm, as I do, he was an incarnate of our former cat, Stanley, who had been taken out on our busy hill a scant few weeks previous. It was a rough start for this wee baby who survived a drop off and a crazy stretch of highway only to find us.
Blackie was a biter and a scratcher, prone to infections which then induced seizures. After colliding with Patrick one day, a well placed scratch put Pat on antibiotics and declawing became the only option if Bubby was to stay. In hindsight, this was a very poor solution and less drastic measures should have been taken. My prince lost all of the fur he could lick off in his traumatic state of coping with this loss. Poor fella, after what we put him through he still loved us and stuck by us.
We talk about dogs and owners coming to look like each other. I believe cats and their owners mold into each other. I grew to love that cat immensely. I danced with Blackie almost every day of his life while he purred away in my arms. He slept on my bed, curled up behind me always. Nap time on a Saturday afternoon, he would find me. When I was having a bad day he was there rubbing his head against my arm or my face.
Blackie also had a voice. A strong, opinionated, hard ass voice at times. In fact just a few days ago he was belting out his own version of Suspicious Minds. Blackie kept things going in a house of mourning and often reminded us there were other things in his world worth thinking about when all we could seem to manage was ourselves.
I was going to make this blog all about grieving and how the death of my dark prince, triggered thoughts and memories of Patrick’s death. But somehow it didn’t seem right to do this, even though the week has been rife with sadness and anger.
However, enter the potter’s house with the prophet Jeremiah , if you please. It never ceases to amaze me the different paths both creativity and life can take. In trying to convey my feelings for Blackie this morning, I got blocked. Until I listened to this morning’s church service, which spoke about the role of the potter in Biblical times and how we can and perhaps must reshape ourselves for change just as the potter does with his or her vessels.
“What can I do?”
That was the question asked of me by a new friend and fellow cat lover, who just happens to be a potter. I told him I needed one of his urns to hold Blackie’s ashes. It’s those beautiful and sometimes rare connections that reshape a person’s life after loss and sadness. God sends you out in a new direction much as he did with Jeremiah, to learn to live again by connecting with others, sometimes for reasons you will not be aware of until much later.
It can be incredibly difficult to reshape a life; it’s not unlike those of us first at the pottery wheel who struggle to keep the form of the vessel uniform as we shape it. A good teacher, friend, or even your outspoken cat will tell you that it’s okay to start over if you mess up with it. You can even keep a similar shape, you just may need to work at it a bit.
I believe Blackie knew it was time to go. In fact I feel he was quite miserable and was telling me with that incredibly intense stare of his that “it was more than time, mama.” It was like he needed me to do this for us all. He could move on knowing we could survive without his “antic disposition” and we could find peace in the knowledge that he was no longer in pain, had found his claws, and that greener pastures awaited him filled with mice! He would be with “Dad-oo” too.
Doubt thou that the stars are fire; /Doubt that the sun doth move!/Doubt truth to be a liar;/But never doubt I love (Hamlet Act II, Sc. II)