mistress of the embalming house,
grant the beautiful West in peace..."
-egyptian funeral papyrus 900bc
" the tyranny of cats is better than the justice of mice."- arab saying
mittens couldn't deal, ok. i admitted as much. it is persia mohammad who stood watch over death. how that cat constantly amazes me. animals aren't stupid. when something's sick, they avoid it. she kept her distance but didn't take her eyes off maggie.i stayed up all night /all morning with her in my arms but then i had to deliver and decorate chris and 'su's cake and as her time sifted away i pulled myself out of the house.
i don't think i've said 'cocksucker', 'motherfucker' and 'i'll fucking fuck you up, bitch' so many times in the span of a few minutes then when trying to drive in downtown boston with a 200 person wedding cake bungi corded into the passenger seat ( because the tailgate isn't fixed yet) of a bronco with no a/c , in traffic that consisted mostly of tourists sightseeing. and no fucking radio.
i guess i was a little distraught.
the cake was put together just in time for the guests to arrive then i had to run home and change. but i just ended up on the floor of my bedroom with maggie in my arms, again, and the imperious ms. mohammad glaring at us from the bed.
' oh cat of lapis lazuli, great of forms..."
there are few things i find so touching and heartbreaking as when, in pain or on the edge of death ,cats purr. she became so tiny in my lap, a lap she used to fill up. i rubbed under her ear and the most delicate purr surrounded me.something descended around us and i could feel this urge ,this feeling to go up and i begged for her to be taken. i begged for her to let go. nothing else existed but a small cat on her way home.
i figured if i brought her to angell they'd just blandly euthanize her after charging me a lot of money to completely freak out a dying creature by driving her to jp in the heat where we would sit in the waiting room surrounded by dogs and people we don't know for hours. as my boss said the next day-" christ, i want to die at home..."
i wasn't sure if could OD her on my own but i was certain that wouldn't be necessary as she was going to go that day. i just knew when i woke up. i got dressed to go to the wedding , after making sure she was comfortable and as i was fairly certain persia wouldn't leave her alone-although none of the other cats would come into the room.
mr mittens got hammered. really hammered. i guess i was a little distressed. i guess it was an irish wake at a wedding. i never get drunk. ever. i missed the ceremony , saw people i haven' t seen in years , recalled 20 years of going to manray and of having known chris and was given a deftly carved lemon bunny.
the exact moment maggie died, i knew it.
" grant the beautiful West in peace"
how slight, what lost little things we all appear in death. how lost and slight we appear in life- no more than small animals craving comfort and what we think of as love.
i had to buy a shovel. persia stayed with the body-although i didn't know that until i finailly found maggie under the bed. persia kept yelling at me then watched patiently, silently as i moved the bed and wrapped what was my dear maggie in cotton and apologized to her for being so daft and inept and scared and weak. nothing is more humbling and more of a reality check than a dead body. you're reverent and respectful , yet the entity you're being so kindly to is no longer there to appreciate your concern. sometimes i think it's only through coming to some sort of terms with death that you're able to live and progress forward. i needed to be slapped awake and ,i'll admit , it used to take a whole lot more to propell me out of a daze.
it used to take a whole lot more fo me to be able to let go.
the more time i spend with cats the more i realize why they occupied and still should occupy the place they did in egyptian religion- in fact in any goddess oriented belief system. is there anything harder won than the trust of a cat? unlike with dogs( or human's for that matter)they can't be won over with a walk, a ride in the car, some treat. and they know SOMETHING...that persia is the sphinx , i swear. she watches over me when i'm sick, has attacked people who have merely made threatening noises at me and bitch slaps me around the apartment when i am not doing something i should be doing. she quietly, mercifully stayed with a dying cat- a cat she never got along within life and would never, in fact ,stay in the same room with. she sat shiva for her and made sure i gave her back to the earth.
there is nothing more precious than a trust and love so carefully, respectfully won, given by a holy being so fondly loved, so endowed with grace and vision by her Mother.
i love so imperfectly compared to you, cat. but i love you and thank you for the great gift of your love, your playfulness, your profound dignity.
" the white cat
on the white chair
lives white minutes
i'm not even in."
-naomi shihab nye
maggie, beyond the veil 7/10/05