Muh Earl

Some pics belie the tenderness behind them. Because when I met introverted Earl–whose history included the passing of his former owner, the relatives for whom did not find new homes for his cats and Earl was put on the street–his eyes seemed almost too sad to overcome the emotional hesitation.
 
And as a pet sitter, everything is always temporary and short-term. For a few days, I come in, feed, stay for a bit, leave and don’t see them sometimes for a long while between their families trips. And because of this, good connections with sensitive animals who’ve experienced abandonment are challenging to manifest. Since animals become world-weary just like humans, and know better than to get attached. For although circumstances change, once we experience such a loss as Earl had the fear usually settles into even our muscles, so Earl had made his whole body part of keeping distance, revealing his skepticism and hurt as he’d let the other house cats crowd before walking off as if giving up.
 
But I understood Earl. Knew his grief. And in the justified sadness of a sweet cat someone shooed outside as if they were sweeping the floor, I was called to act. So I made time to find him each visit, to sit with him, to specifically bring him into the circle of my attention (even with his extroverted sibs crowding around) because I wanted him to know he was important to me. Wanted to make an event out of “Earl”. Came into the house hollering the refrain “Where’s muh Earl?” so that he knew right away I hadn’t forgotten between trips that he was that tender guy I wanted to see.
 
Because we’ve all looked out upon the world with sad Earl eyes, many of us coming to exist within the immovable sense of not feeling safe enough to trust the world won’t hurt us, for, in fact the world has—Purposefully, Unashamedly—until sometimes we want to even flee from this life. And while these are harsh realities I can’t erase out of existence, I didn’t want to accept that that’s all there is. And Earl didn’t either.
 
For sometimes sadness and grief seem solid as if anchoring us permanently into them. Yet from mutual loss flows a compassion and nurturance for our fellow humans and creatures until somehow, one day, we’re sitting on the couch and old man Earl suddenly climbs into our lap and nuzzles his face in our hair.
 
And there are yet mysteries to solve, but events often become bits of truth constantly discovering itself, and when sweet Earl jumped up that first day—cat hair like love floating delicately around—I think it seasoned us both in what to do with this Life. In how to stand inside the new love we weave into existence as we survive this world more powerfully within togetherness.

Recalibrating

And I didn’t want my face to be puffy—and don’t like to upset the animals—but I was crying as I took this first picture.

For various reasons that day, I couldn’t hold back the ocean and—as Killian and Smudge moved about their deck—painted my face with loneliness and afternoon sun.

And science says tears carry stress hormones out of the body, leaving us more chemically-balanced but I wasn’t feeling that hope at that time. For life is so thick sometimes. Like windshield smeared with dirt—like the air in Salt Lake City, white snow on the ground Alpine-wholesome while the mountains disappear into 55.5 µg/m³ smog—and true sight is lost inside microscopic complexities and forfeit to sudden worrisome torrents, unseen mountains masked by chemical-laden water breaking free (finally) to flow down slopes of pine needles and skin.

And Killian is an orange kitty with dementia, who is a sweet, playful ham until his parents get home—when he runs and hides as if he’s never seen them before—and Smudge, the black and white is normally more aloof so after this picture—taken exactly 30 days ago; a vision of idealism–I decided to delete my Facebooks. To give up the charade. To celebrate having had a good run—sharing my authentic and whole self, seeing others do the same—and to honor that the world is a dynamic place where I’ve changed, and where tears falling from eyes hold sorrow as it leaves the body.

And today is the last day I can go back and retrieve anything—in where like I’m imagining you log on and are immediately faced with “I told you so,”, and maybe I’d apologize to Zuck personally via email?; I mean, I just don’t know, it’s so awkward and uncharted—but the interesting thing is that I posted so many things, so many pictures, so much fluff, comments, etc. but there’s only one thing that I specifically remembered to go back and save, and that’s the picture of Livy falling asleep in my bed after our night in the ER following her first grand mal seizure at Classic Skating. Pic 2. Julia had seen it happen—I wasn’t even there; they were with their stepmom—and was hysterical/having a panic attack, so Livys then-stepbrother Taylor rode in the ambulance with Liv because their stepmom had to drive the rest of the kids behind the ambulance to the hospital. And the picture itself is nothing really; of a teen girl—covers messy, on her side, face angled towards the mattress; worn, spent, exhausted, alive, safe in my bed after a dangerous day—but it’s everything.

Because some things you can’t ever truly savor until you let the pain bubble up and through, until the mountains are masked and you feel so lonely you’re crying on a Republican’s deck. Until the terror that you’re watching your baby sister die—paramedics hovering over her, asking if she can remember her name and how old she is—gets recalibrated into driving up to Ogden after work to get her from college because you miss her. Until you see your child breathe in your bed, knowing that the deep gift of sorrow and redemption is that your life can now be as profound as you’ll allow.

Until your fairy child has epilepsy (and also depression, anxiety and a micro-tumor on her pituitary) and your firstborn loves like a big dream and a kitty named Smudge is the risen humanity you desperately need, who with paws on your knees one lonely day, asks “Are you OK? Can I help?”

And Time itself dilates—science says that too—and all things have the hope for bearing us back into the sensation of love. So right here, now, today, this year, and [emboldened by gravity’s warping of Time] over this entire life upon this planet, I move towards Julia, Livy, Smudge, Killian, tears, writing, pictures, mountains, sorrow, healing, gratitude, creativity, and all forces yet unknown breaking our culture of loneliness, their black and white fur earnestly checking in with chemical-covered faces and afternoon sun on early November days.

[Edit, 12/11/2019:  And when I say I’m lonely, I don’t mean for human companionship. You can be with someone, married or otherwise mated, and still be lonely. What makes me feel lonely—or did on that day—was “the machine”. The march of humanity blindly forward towards their Truman Show; what makes me lonely is the assumptions we make about others, the misguided envy; how hard it is to stop from saying something hurtful and how we find it perfectly acceptable to not reach out, to help. It isn’t that I believe people are bad or selfish; its actually that I believe they’re good and just can’t be quiet].