I believe it is the mantra playing in your head that defines the reality of your life, and of late I have had a new one: Time is passing too quickly. It is an awareness that in recent months has made its way to full-blown obsession.
I hate it.
May I say that? May I tell you about the powerlessness I feel? Can I trust you with a vulnerability now exposed by this invisible ticking clock?
I know the answer is to change the mantra, to understand and accept that the current moment is all there is, all there has ever been. And still there are constant notices hurling toward me, reminders that I stand on the precipice of a new phase in my life, a scary future I neither recognize nor know how to navigate.
We are doing the best we can, my brothers and I, in the face of the complicated challenges presented by parents with bodies and minds in their 80s. (Even as I write that sentence I think of the childhood we had, filled with station wagon vacations and high school sports and the six of us around the dinner table.) It was just yesterday, I swear.
And my own sweet daughter, soon off to her sophomore year in college. Nineteen years later I am still coming to terms with the fact I am the mother of an infant, and here she is nearly a grown woman.
My own reflection in the mirror.
And now my love, Tiger, the tiny kitten we brought home from Vacation Bible School when Eliza was five, grown old and (in all likelihood) gone off to find a quiet place to breathe his last breath. Just Wednesday night, as he was showing some all too real signs the end might be near, I sat with him on the front porch and rubbed his head just before he stood up and walked away from me.
My dear friend, Colleen, kept watch while I traveled back to my hometown for a funeral. (Those mountains wrapped their big arms around me in a way that comforted my uneasy soul.) He appeared for a quick moment Friday when she saw him cross the back yard, that cat, emerging from some underbrush in our neighbor’s yard. But then he was gone again.
We have done everything we can think of to lure him home so that we might get him whatever he needs—a new medication to regulate that tricky thyroid, or the replacement of catfood with the boiled shrimp he loves. We filled the bird feeders. (He loves to sit just under them, that scoundrel.) We sit quietly in the backyard, hoping he’ll come sauntering around the corner, nonchalantly parking himself a respectable distance from us, there below the creeping fig. We take walks around the yard, through the neighborhood. We check the front door, the back door, the front door again.
It has become our vigil.
I decided as I lay in bed last night that this morning would provide an answer. Perhaps the sun would rise and I would shuffle to the side porch door to find him there waiting for me. As on a thousand days before, he would meowmeowmeow his way inside, expressing his displeasure that it took me so long to get out of bed to feed him. And I would say to him as he breezed past me without the slightest acknowledgement, Well hello there Tiger. Good morning. It’s so nice to see you.
I would accept that time had come and taken him.
There was no Tiger on the porch this morning. But there were, I swear, two tiny wet spots exactly like those we found in his trail those last days before he disappeared, signs that I knew then were indications he couldn’t control his body or destiny any more than I can, signs I now interpret as hope.
And so I will believe for another day, waiting and watching for that old cat to reappear. Knowing full well that time ticks on, understanding in my soul this is all part of it, the greater plan, God’s plan.
Praying for acceptance. Hoping for a miracle, nonetheless.
dear friends: thank you for the love and wishes you have sent my way the past couple of days. we found sweet tiger last night, underneath a large bush not far from the side door. i replay it over and over in my mind, of course, wondering how i could have missed him, wondering if things might have been different had i gotten to him. i guess the answer is no, but i sure hope he knows how hard i tried.
immeasurable thanks to my dear friends colleen, jay, bruce, teresa, stephanie, julian.
we will miss you tiger tig.