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When I first envisioned this blog, I was naïve. It seemed such a good idea to write about my old animals and what I was learning from them about aging. And in the beginning I wrote about the wonder of spending time with them. How they made me a better human being.
And all of that and much more is true.
But what I didn’t think about was the circularity of aging. How there comes a point with old animals (and people) when it’s time for them to leave this earth. And that hadn’t crossed my mind.
Like I said–naïve.
So Bud was first to remind me of this life lesson, and my heart became much less naïve in an instant.
When my older sister died this spring, my already-tender heart ached from too many goodbyes.
Then on September 7th we lost another very important member of our family. Mija is a Spanish word for “my daughter.” And she was exactly that to us. For almost nineteen years this little cat enlivened and enriched our lives. She was the first domestic “pet” we shared – seeming very much like our daughter. From the moment we brought her home, until the moment she died in my husband’s arms, she was family.
We console ourselves with phrases like: she lived a good, long life; we loved her beyond measure; and she loved us equally.
And they help.
But we are still grieving for her. Our home seems empty, especially her favorite spots. So many sunbeams seem wasted now. So many comfy laps go unfilled. Sometimes I think I hear her and for one brief moment, I get my hopes up. Maybe this was nothing more than a bad dream, I think.
But of course it wasn’t.
Grief has a way of messing with a person’s view of reality.
All those years ago Mija had been abandoned. Her family moved without taking her. She was all of five or six months old and had no way of fending for herself in the big world. A kind-hearted neighbor tried hard to like her. He took her in, supplied her with food and toys, but in the end he decided he just wasn’t a cat person. Thankfully he took her to our veterinarian, Dr. Robin Downing. Mija went on at least two other trial runs with families who simply couldn’t bond with her.
I know now there was a bigger plan in play. She was meant to live with Rick and me. For us it was love at first sight. When I picked her up she immediately rewarded me with her quirky little purr. Rick said it sounded as if a bearing was going out. The metaphor was wasted on me because I don’t know a bad bearing from a jet engine. But I knew I was enchanted by this little black and white ball of fur.
We have photographs and memories that eventually will comfort us and help us remember our very good life with Mija. Until then we are taking it easy.
Grieving is exhausting.
I know all of you who have lost someone dear know exactly what I’m talking about.
To love with a wide-open heart leaves us sometimes feeling fragile and vulnerable. And we may be tempted to protect ourselves by closing down–not allowing anyone or anything to ever again get that close. For me that isn’t the answer. I want to live my life full out and open-hearted. No holding back.
That’s truly the lesson my dear old sweeties have given me.
Like it or not, the season is changing, the wheel turning from autumn to winter. It often seems too soon to me, yet I am learning to be present in this moment of this day.
So winter it is!
Do you have routines that get you ready for winter?
Mija spends more time snuggled in cozy fleece.
Pepper and Chickadee fuzz out.
I get out my winter clothes – sweaters, fleece and wool socks.
I locate my gloves and heavy coats.
I find myself craving potatoes and other stick-to-your-ribs foods.
I turn up the heat and plug in the electric mattress pad.
I tend to go to bed earlier and stay there longer.
All in all I feel a little more sluggish—yielding to my ancient, hardwired nature to hibernate in winter.
How about you?
How does your body tell you it’s winter?
Mija, our little earless wonder of a sixteen-year-old cat, has been having a few mobility issues.
She has arthritis that has caused her some back pain, so she’s taking pain meds. Which have helped a lot.
Occasionally she’s not as sure-footed as she once was.
As my big birthday approaches, I can relate.
Changes in how my body works sort of freak me out.
I realize I’ve been pretty naïve, expecting everything to operate just as it did when I was in my twenties. Or thirties, or forties, or ….
Well you get the idea.
I’m learning from Mija that there is always an adaptation.
A work around.
One simply must be creative.
For example, if you’re thirsty and think your legs won’t hold you up so that you can get a good long drink of water, simply lie down beside the water bowl and drink to your heart’s content.
She’s even done this a time or two at her food station.
That’s our girl.
What adaptations have you made in your life as your body has aged?
Time for Tuesday Beauty
Here in northern Colorado we’ve been bombarded with visual images of the fire that rages in the foothills to the west of us.
Our skies are smoky; our hearts are heavy.
And four days into it, we’re already exhausted, even though this looks to be a long battle.
I need to shift gears for myself, and I thought perhaps, you’d like it as well.
Just for a little breather.
I feel relaxed just looking at this picture of Mija napping beside the blooming clematis.
What I really want to do is crawl into the grass beside her, forget everything for a while, and simply be with the flowers, green grass and purring cat.
Something is going on at my house that makes me suspicious. My peeps are busy cleaning and organizing. This makes me nervous because I have a very good idea what it means.
My routine, my perfect-as-it-is routine is about to change drastically.
It’s not that my people are slobs – they’re not. But cleaning and organizing are not their first choice of things to do when they have a free moment.
When I hear the vacuum rumbling across the floor, I run away. That thing is too noisy.
And when I smell the Meyers Clean Day Lemon Verbena Countertop Spray, I know.
Truth is I’m quite fond of that scent.
It does make the house smell fresh and clean.
But when you combine vacuum, lemon verbena cleaning spray and de-cluttering, I know company is on the way.
I know how to be a gracious host.
And I will be gracious.
But I’ll also be really glad to reclaim my house once everyone has left.
P.S. The title of this post is psychic cat, NOT psycho. Just pointing that out in case you may have misread it.
Have a great Wednesday!
Wednesdays with Mija
I consider myself to be a patriotic cat, and love my life here in Colorado. I know the many luxuries that contribute to my wonderful life are available to me because of this great country. I’m American through and through.
But, and this is big, I am NOT a fan of the Fourth of July.
The firecrackers scare me to death. When the booming and whistling begins, I run for safety under the bed. It hurts my ears. I don’t feel safe. I get stressed and worried. I’m pretty sure other cats and dogs have the same experience. I think there are even some humans who agree.
In our neighborhood the fireworks have already started. I just don’t understand the fun in lighting things and listening to/watching them explode.
Please think of your animals before you strike that match and send the next whirring, whizzing, popping, banging, exploding animal torture device into the air. And if you just can’t help yourself, please try to limit the number of things you light and explode.
Your animals will thank you. I will thank you.
Wednesdays with Mija
Everyone seems to be celebrating something around this blog: Bud’s birthday, the one year anniversary of the blog, and Pepper’s birthday is coming up.
Spring is a busy time for us.
I have no idea when my birthday is because I was adopted. You can read that story here if you want a refresher.
I do know when I found my peeps.
My forever home.
It was in April.
That’s what I’m celebrating today.
You can see my adoption photo over there to the left. It was when I still had ears.
What I really want to talk about today is making sure there are no more unwanted cats and dogs in this world. I can tell you from first hand experience that it is terrible to be out in the world all by yourself.
And it just plain shouldn’t happen.
That’s why it is so critical to spay/neuter your animals.
(I know this may be a rather delicate subject matter. But please just go with me. This is important stuff.)
Spring is when we start seeing babies.
Kittens, puppies, chicks, bunnies.
And yes, they are cute as all get out.
But unless they have a forever home where they will be wanted, cared for, cherished, and valued members of the family, it isn’t all that great.
Cute will only take you so far.
Then we’re back to scary, lonely, and dangerous.
Please help me spread the word. No more unwanted pets.