paraphrased concerning the Heddawa order of dervishes, morocco- lorraine chittock
it has been very, very difficult for me to think about the death of Co this past easter friday, now over a month ago. i recall i was able to write about maggie's' death immediately but Co is different. maggie was actually someone else's cat who i happened to have taken care of on and off for several years. Co was with me for most of my adult life and witness to things transformative and destructive, events full of light and weighed down with darkness. i call her my child but it is more likely the other way around.
that little, for she always was so very very skinny, calico was the only source of stability in my life for nearly 20 years. all the lovers and friends who have come and gone. family members that it became intolerable to be around- one small cat was the constant that made me actually want to be alive and who always accepted me for who i was while still not tolerating any crap . what's been the hardest these past few weeks is the thought that although she never once let me down, i know , especially in our first decade together, it's i who sometimes failed her. that she still loved and trusted me is a testament to the strength of her redemptive love and her kindness, a kindness few humans seem capable of offering even to those they claim to cherish and hold dear. i say it over and over- we learn how to be better humans by observing the creatures we so haughtily deem our ' pets'.
i always loved cats but the chaos and cruelty of my childhood prohibited me from having and keeping any around. my early 20s were far to unsettled and random for me to adequately take care of myself, let alone attempt to be responsible for any other life. Co jumped on to my shoulder outside the bread and circus on prospect street and changed everything. there were 2 of us standing on the sidewalk that night and she chose me. she must have seen potential- that cat was no one's fool and i was still sort of a mess- and i was thrilled beyond speaking, so happy a cat liked me. although my lover at the time had a cat and didn't want me taking home the weird looking stray, i persisted- the beginning of my slow understanding that i may not have known what was good for me and anyone i chose to date CERTAINLY had no interest in what was best for me, but the cat who loves you for you and sees what you might be is always right and the right choice.
Co taught me to be patient. when eventually i was stable enough to have my own place and was not at the whim of a cranky live- in lover or insane landlord, and more cats came along( as they are want to do), rejected by their stupid selfish ' owners' and dropped in my lap, i learned to let them be. alice, who was kicked down a flight of stairs as as kitten by some piece of white trash, wouldn't let me pet her for about 4 years. i let persia raise her and let her come to me when she wanted to and now she sleeps by my head at night and cuddles up to me under the covers. sylvia wouldn't let anyone touch her. i knew her as a kitten when she ' belonged' to someone else, and only viewed her by peering under whatever piece of furniture she was hiding under. now she's the spank queen of the people's republic, rivaled only by a certain Ms. Peets.
i've learned to apply these principles to humans and, conversely, if someone refuses to treat me with respect and shows no respect for my boundaries i, like a cat, want nothing to do with them. as a result of becoming a nicer, less angry person by caring for Co and her minions i have likewise become less tolerant of people who are manipulative self absorbed victims who feel they can make up for their perceived injustices at the hands of society by demanding of others what they show no signs of respecting , are incapable of receiving and show no signs of honoring- trust. my cats trust me because i respect them and their being. i don't demand their attention like a fucking roman tyrant smacking those uppity eunuchs up. if the want to sit in my lap, they do. if not, fine. love doesn't require and is, in fact, destroyed utterly by the fucking kung fu grip.
you cannot give a fuck what other people think of you especially when it comes to joy and laughter. sure, you have one orange ear and one black ear and look like you're wearing a jester cap and people don't think you're the cutest kitten- well, fuck them! you're fucking adorable and cranky and funny as really naughty sin. Co may have been the Original Crankster with other people but she was always the belle of my ball.
once, i was with the Worst Mistake of My Life, a contemptible user and perpetual victim, after a grueling vacation wherein nothing i did or wanted to do was acceptable. nag nag nag. we had just gotten back home, after i drove all the way from montreal, and there was no food in the house. we'd ordered a pizza and were watching tv, splayed out on the bed, when Co, thrilled to see me after a week's absence, jumped up and landed on the pizza. then she started hopping around with cheese on her feet, waving her piggies in the air and shaking them like she was doing the marcarana . i rolled off the bed , squealing with laughter. it was just a slice or 2 affected by alleged cat litter toes , for christ's sake, and it was funny and my soon to be ex was blind with fury. i mean , fuck , whore, i KNOW you've had worse things in your mouth then a slice with cat ass, let alone cat toes, in your mouth. and she's only a cat and what she did she did out of love. i knew at that moment that anyone who didn't get that, didn't get love. once again i picked the door marked pussy cat and haven't regretted it .
when i had nothing and lived on other people's couches and had to send Co home to my mother- she even forgave me that. she was my responsibility and i fucked up. i got a place after months of being , technically, homeless. i was sleeping on a piece of folding lawn furniture and a friend drove me to get my futon and Co. i will never forget the sheer joy of being in the car, driving back to boston with Co on my lap , her paws on the window sill as she excitedly watched the road and kept turning back to look at me, so happy that we were going to be together again. together, wherever we were, was home. she was in cars many times before that moment and many times afterward and never behaved like that,like a dog, instead of hiding and freaking like cats do on the road.
home is in the sky, in the ground now. as she was dying ,she crawled onto my chest, laid her chin on my chin, and purred. i knew it was the very end. she was waiting, however ,for me to leave for work and it was so very hard to leave her . i knew it was what she wanted. how can you really leave the one who has loved you best with all your failings ? so strange that it's only an animal who seems to be able to forgive your very human weaknesses and treats you with such loving tenderness when they're in their time of greatest need, perhaps pain.
i've been feeling so very empty and worry constantly about Persia because i know she's about the same age as Co.
' the past is a country where they do things differently' -i fucking forgot who, olive someone
i've buried a very large piece of my past and myself. i am finding it very difficult to want to feel anything but sad. Co( given name- Ariadne keeper of the labyrinth) taught me better than that, but i just can't help it. it would have been selfish to keep her here , in her advanced age, but in loneliness , my heart breaks. Ariadne teaches us, though, that it's not so much that other's understand us, as Co surely understood me, but, rather, that we come to understand ourselves.