The Vine

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Grief Is a Spooky Monster

My dear friend Spooky Monster died Memorial Day weekend. It is the end of a Great White Cat. I do not know why he died, I just found him curled up in the back yard. It is very painful not knowing what did him in. He was healthy and happy as far as I could tell. If any of you psychic types get a read, let me know what you think. Spooky was a friend and companion of mine for about nine years.I sure will miss my Spooky Monster.

About a month before he died, I was petting him during full shedding season, and that cat shed year round. I got this huge wad of his snowy, pure white fur, and it seemed too beautiful to throw away. So I started stuffing it into a glass jar. Over the month or so, it filled up, a jar full of clouds, like angel hair (if you didn't know him). So now I have a reliquary, a jar of Spooky's fur, with a small vial of tears in it. He died the Weekend of May 30th, but I'm still occasionally adding tears to that vial.

I have a lot of friends, who, being our age, now have cats who are fifteen, seventeen, nineteen. My cats have never lasted that long, but it was my dearest hope that Spooky would die of old age or I'd have to put him down at age 17. It was a vain hope, because if cats have nine lives, it is certain that Spooky had burned through his in a hurry, with his tough guy hard living. But at nine years he was just beginning to relax into his middle years. He hadn't gotten into another fight since February, and I had hoped that he would continue to act his age.

After losing Twister just last year, and helping quite a few friends bury their pets in recent history, and even burying a (probably) stray cat killed next to my shop, I have come to call myself a Priestess of Dead Animals. LM has commented on how I move through grief in huge gulps that other people couldn't stand to experience in a short time. It is astonishing to me how much grief I can sustain for my cats. It makes me want to never accept another stray foundling into my life, for the heartbreak sure to come. Every day when I come home I am temporarily filled with dread that Emo will be dead in the street because he is black and cars can't see him.

There is no way to look at this process as other than some emotional/priestess training on how to grieve and cope with loss and minister to each other for the loss of a human loved one. How many weddings can I priestess before I do a funeral? I highly recommend a book which LM let me read, called Swallowed By a Snake. It is written by a man to help men understand men's ways of dealing (or not dealing) with grief, but of course there is more than enough for a woman to understand from this book. I do not mean in any way that it makes death and loss and grief easy. It's not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be acknowleged, ritually honored, and moved through.

Here is my ritual song for burying a dead animal:

Go, (___________), go-oh-oh
Go, (___________), go-oh-oh,
Into the Earth,
Into the o-ther wor-rld,
Go, (___________), go.

Sing it in a slow dirge over and over until the grave is filled.

It should work for burying a person, too.


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