Stella this morning looking towards the sun, her position concealing the large open, untreatable tumor on her face that is the reason she is currently in hospice care.

Stella’s human is enduring a personal emergency of her own and was called away from her girl but her human uncle is there with her during the day, and she’s a cat that walks away from twice daily insulin, pain meds shot down her throat and painful cleaning/dressing her face wound to—seconds later—sitting with me on the driveway, watching the squirrels on their neighbors roof. So there’s silver linings to all.

One of the squirrels this morning, ran down from the roof to the yard next door—Pic 2-3—and was standing up, looking around casually, like the vibes were real good.

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My sister and her wife came up with the idea–and name–for my pet sitting business.

I was divorced in 2007—thought he was going through a midlife crisis that would pass so I didn’t even get a lawyer; of course he was cheating—and went back to school to become a teacher, reaching past a mere certificate to get a masters (prideful?), but in the still-shaky economic ground of 2011–when I hadn’t gotten a job and was really struggling—decided to start a pet sitting business, and with my sister and her wife’s creativity, we set the ball rolling. I then did part-time gigs as Reading teacher, technology teacher, PE teacher, but it still wasn’t enough money and was hard to get to the school on time while doing morning sits so I worked hard and by 2016, had enough business—and had enough of being overworked/underpaid in the school system—to let go of being in education.

So I really fought to get where I am. Not just logistics but with the slow, frightening plod of not having basic needs met. And I’ve given up a lot with my girls because the truth is when you’ve struggled, it’s hard to know when to stop working. Because the fear and the lack is always inside you, to where it often feels like nothing else can speak.

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A few years ago, I had an experience with a kitty named Melman, where I leaned down to him to tell him that I loved him, and he uncharacteristically started rolling around affectionately on his cat tree as if he knew exactly what I was saying. So I added, “Do you know what love means?” intending to offer the answer, but found myself unable to verbalize what I was trying to say. Because all at once, I understood that love is so much bigger than me, I can’t encapsulate what it is from within the limitations of myself. So I left it alone, intending to just rest with it inside me. Which I’ve done. For several years.

This morning, as I looked up the driveway at Stella—her shadow reaching back towards me—the sunshine was like this Navajo folklore (pic). ‘Is this the day she’ll go downhill and won’t get to see her mom again?’ has faded out from our visits together because animals aren’t like that. They don’t live where we do in that way. Plus she’s in hospice: her sun should be the most beautiful sun there ever was. Those squirrels jumping around in the gutters on the house across the street should be the most pivotal thing either of us has ever experienced.. And as I made to leave her house, I walked up the road a bit towards my car and looked back to make sure she wasn’t following me, and she was. So I turned back, and sat with her again, then when I got to my car, the music from my phone was saying “… it’s the same old story, all love and glory, it’s a pantomime.” Mother of Pearl by Roxy Music.

And I know now I won’t be a pet sitter full-time anymore [people won’t be traveling as much; I’ll work anyone in who wants me though], and will be finding my way towards something else, and for a while this year, it felt personal. As if all that work—all the struggle, the sacrifices—was going to have to start over, and repeat; as if I was now on the same path I was in 2007.

But the thing about struggle is that the trauma can change you. It can crack you open to where you have nothing to lose but to start seeing yourself and your world differently. Until on a morning in May 2020 you’re driving home from Stella’s house and have no idea what your next step is yet instead of panic, feel like you’re living inside a moment where the sun is only alive for one day.

Because, in sitting with “what is love?” I’ve come to understand that love is everything; it’s all of these words, it’s the struggle, the opportunity to see ourselves, to become, to reach around outside of the barrenness so as to rise. And I’d never have known that had these days not arrived, where from this shift of worlds, I can finally see that Love is growing and experiencing itself from within us and is a story we’ll never stop writing. Nor would we want to.

Stella, a star like the sun, before the tumor

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