Last week we had another snowstorm here and there was a snow day. From the safe, warm inside the house, I took these first thing in the morning.
I thought of my grandmother, Luba (z”l), who had a gorgeous glass collection in her home by the sea.
I was four when she died way too young, and my memories of her are fuzzy, contained in pictures and in stories from others, but I remember her soft touch on my skin and her closet, dressing up, and being happy with her; the way she brushed my hair. I remember that the bottles and glass pieces were lined up on little shelves built into the window that looked out on the little bay. I could never possibly recreate that, such a dream spot, peaceful, with the water always there, the grasses waving and shells I gathered. The pink rose bushes and monarch butterflies and the paved walk way and that breeze coming off the water on a warm day.
I have spent my life trying to capture color in my own bottles, hanging things, in art, in scarves and clothing and shoes. In the light. Always searching for and finding color and marveling at the way the light hits glass, even in a snowstorm, even when it is cold, even when all is swirling, such as snow or wars outside, or ideas in my head, or good or bad things that happen. And how one responds–to the good or the bad.
I choose color and sometimes black and white. Always, always, searching for the way the light hits. Waiting for the sparkle and shine. Letting tears fall and then laughing.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support by readers here. Many of you have sent me personal messages and emails and all are so greatly appreciated. Thank you.
It’s harder the before part, isn’t it? When you know the end is inevitable, but yet, you watch looking to find glimmers. Oh, Ringo walked to her bowl. She’s still making it to her litter box. Oh, and she ate a bit more! She’s purring. After a few days of her withdrawing to under the table, resting and sleeping mostly, not sleeping on our bed, not jumping up on my desk to lounge on top of my laptop and help me…
After days of not, this morning Ringo jumped back up to my desk and sat in her usual spots. On the right side, behind the laptop, on top, on my lap, over my shoulder, and then circle back again to look out window at birds. She meowed and asked me to pick her up and I held her, Ringo Lite, so airy and fragile, and she did that thing she does, nestling into my neck, hugging and purring. We sat like that for a while, while I cried and cried. I wasn’t sure I’d get to experience that one more time. But she came and gave that moment to me. One more time on my desk, inspired.
I thanked her out loud for being here with us for so long, and all her goodness. I thanked her for being there and helping us through tragedies and health problems and happy days and holidays, and boring nothing happens days, every day. I thanked her. I cried into her fur and she just purred. “What a good cat. What a good, good cat, you are. Thank you, Ringo. “
Then she got down and I thought, OK, she has given me her love for 15.5 years, a third of our lives. I have given everything I could to her. I’m lucky.
A little bit on how we found her is in this below:
This painting (sorry for not such great photo of it):
was inspired by this photo:
Today, Ringo enjoyed chicken and kugel (she can be such a little Jewish cat) cut up into the tiniest of pieces and heated up in the microwave. It’s hard for her to eat. It’s almost time.
Here we are with TableCat in September 2010 during Rosh Hashana.
When we first got her, she also couldn’t eat. So small, at 5 weeks and abandoned without her mommy cat, we went to a vet and tried everything, used a dropper, but for days she seemed to not eat enough. On Mother’s Day morning, 1999, maybe a week after we found her, I was eating a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. Suddenly, Super Tiny Ringo jumped with all four paws into the bowl and starting chomping down. I let her (and got myself another bowl), but then I made her little cracker type things using the cereal as a base and smearing on baby cat food. She gobbled it up, eating from my hands. She’s been a great eater ever since and she grew into a whole cat.
In recent years, she’s been finicky with food, but that was fine, but really, she’s eaten very well her whole life, enjoying plenty of delicious home food courtesy of Andy’s amazing cooking skills. Now, at the end, she can’t eat enough to sustain. It is almost time, soon, before she knows hunger, before it hurts too much, her pain meds keeping her comfortable for now.
M said, “Her work is done. She has achieved all her life’s goals. Now its time for her to rest.”
But denial along with that, “At least she doesn’t have cancer. She’ll be here, probably two more months. I’ll have one more birthday with Ringo.”
I had to tell him the truth. “Yes, Ringo does have cancer. She is going to die soon, but we don’t know exactly when. She won’t be here for your birthday. I’m so sorry.”
Watching him let that sink in was hard. His face fell. He bit his lip. I could see he was holding back tears. He gets it and doesn’t get it. We talk of the Rainbow Bridge. I told him whatever he feels is OK. I told him all feelings are OK. I said, “Let’s talk about FutureCat. Let’s eat more ice cream.”
I check on Ringo, watching her breathe. Making sure. I look around the house at all the spots where she has always been. The windows. The couch. The table. My desk. The beds. The hall. The litter box. Under things. There is fur in the screen of the window. There is fur. More windows. She’s still so present and here. I’m already sad at the thought of her absence. All the above, but without Ringo in the picture. All the drawings I have made over the years which include her. There’s that empty space, the negative space, where she won’t be.
I cry a lot. I keep it together for when M is home. He’s so sensitive, we need to be careful, what we say, how we say it. But we still need and want to be honest and tell him the truth. We keep searching for ways to be as gentle as possible, knowing that while he often seems older than his years, he’s also younger in other ways. All those feelings of loss and grief are certainly hard enough for an adult to process. I don’t think there’s any one right way or wrong way. We know our M and we make decisions that we feel are best for him, for us. So far, it is a mix but it is also calm and peaceful and is also a thing our family is going through together, each in our own different ways, and there really is no way out of it, just through it.
This morning, M made some video of Ringo. He pet her head. He talked about names for his next Future Kitten. He listed for me all the reasons why rescuing a cat is best, why we’ll get one from a shelter, why we won’t buy a cat from a store. M gets it. He’s a real cat person now. I’m glad for that.
I’m pulling out albums and looking through pictures and scanning and the time is going by too fast and it isn’t just Ringo, but all the STUFF that has happened in the past chunk of time, 15.5 years, all rushing by. Little blips of images, memories, deaths, losses, snapshots of happy days and nights and all the days in between. Like a blur going inward and backwards, but holding on to the pieces of the moment. I need to remember to eat. There is fur in corners and on steps and on my desk and on the window sill and —- and I like it that way.
Cat lovers know how special these creatures are. Ringo has been a muse for me. She heard me when I talked about trouble and when I triumphed. I have received and received. Grateful.
A silly ditty we had and rhymes…oh, there are so many silly songs and memories and things we have said:
“Ringo, bingo, bango, bongo, cat would eat a mango. ”
“Who’s good? Ringo’s good.”
“Ringo, Cat of Excellence!”
“Ringo, Cat of Destiny and Density.”
“Ringo, Cat of Constant Furrinness and Love.”
“Ringo, Healing Paws.”
Ringo is a state of mind and an attitude. Ringo is pure love. We got to have pure love for 15.5 years.
How lucky is that?! Wildly, incredibly lucky to have Ringo in our life. All joy and love covered in fur. All goodness and peace. Our Beautiful Ringo, Angel Cat.