(Photo courtesy of Jan M.)
Dedicated with all my love to my sister, Jan, in her time of grieving for an old friend.
There is no justice in this universe if there is any decency or truth to the phrase, dumb animals.
We honor and dignify and respect our human race best if and only if we acknowledge that there is a tremendous amount of mental, emotional, social, and--yes! A resounding YES!--spiritual intelligence inherent to all animals.
There is talk about domesticated animals. Hmm, I daresay we have that backwards. It is our animal friends who domesticate us, who tame our savagery as warring homo sapiens and inspire our docility.
Case in point: NIELE.
Niele was my sister's best feline friend for eleven years. Jan, in turn, was Niele's best human friend for seventy-seven cat years. Truth be told, these two knew each other intimately and completely.
Recently, Niele passed into eternal slumber. Niele is resting peacefully.
It is those who are left behind, unconsciously yearning for that same kind of rest but daily raging, raging, raging against the dying light, as brother Dylan Thomas so eloquently described this process we call LIVING.
So, while Niele rests, Jan is struggling. Jan is sleepless in Hilo, refusing with all her being to let go of her forever friend. Jan is holding onto Niele for dear life, and the irony couldn't be more bittersweet.
In Seattle, a big brother wrestles with his own angst about wanting to comfort his little sister and, ashamedly and with great frustration, not being able to.
The metaphorical image of a giant named Sorrow straddling the Pacific--one foot on the Big Island and the other trying to avoid stepping onto the Space Needle--solicits both tears and smiles...not unlike the familiar habit of Hawaiian weather when the sun and the rain simultaneously share the same sky.
Loss. Absence. Grief. Sorrow. To each of these, there is a season...and every season has its purpose in the process of connecting the elusive dots.
Jan will turn the corner someday, and the grieving will give way to the celebration of memories. The hurt will transform intself into yet another puka shell in her heart. There is an aching, a physiological void, and the best friend during this transitional pain is time.
Time...time of turning the corner and expecting Niele to be there, RIGHT THERE, in THE FAVORITE SPOT.
Time...time of finding Niele's hair on one of the sweaters in the closet.
Time...time of viewing old photographs and marveling at how big Niele, the kitten, grew, seemingly overnight..
Time...time of watching the pain of children's and grandchildren's and, yes, I lovingly include him, too, because, just like me, he is a softie at heart in the autumn of our lives--husband Nelson's eyes...someday turn into the eyes of forgetfulness and moving on.
Time...time of looking into the mirror and someday finding, dear sister Jan, that your eyes have that same forgetful and moving on look.
And, for your and Niele's sake, it's okay. It is perfectly okay. It is as it should be.
The greatest blessing in all of this is that we who grieve know without a doubt that we love and respect our animal friends. We realize that there is a cosmic connection between all living things and that we must not ever take that connection for granted.
Sister Jan, I love you. God bless you and all your loved ones. I pray for your broken heart to heal and grow even stronger for having lived with and loved