Sadness & Laughter

Today I’m feeling uninspired.  I have flipped through journals, reviewed drafted articles that didn’t get published, and scanned interesting articles by others that I’ve collected.  I’ve looked at photos, and some of my favorite books for inspiration or an idea.  Nada. Zip. Zero.

I’ve distracted myself with emails, a cross-word puzzle, small tasks, and multiple cups of tea.  I’ve scheduled meetings and rescheduled others.  I’ve made notes about tasks and added to my to-do list. 

What’s going on?  I’m grieving.  Our beautiful 16-year-old cat died this week and I miss her.  Her calico face and deep green eyes grabbed my heart the first day I saw her and never let go.  We called her Stella -The Beauty.  She helped raise puppies, other kittens, and me in many ways.

If you aren’t an animal lover, you probably can’t see the appeal of feeding, caring for, paying vet bills, and more things that are in store for you when you decide to bring an animal into your life.  And you may say to yourself, “Grieving for a cat?  Get real!  There is so much more going on in the world that is more important than a dead cat!”

Yes, there is a lot going on in the world.  Here in the Western United States we are living with the smoke and threat of harm due to forest fires.  Our political arena here and in other countries is ineffective at best and hostile at worst.  Floods, famine, civil war, inequity, discrimination, domestic violence, and abuse of innocent children continue to plague us.

You see that’s why animals are so important to me.  The pets I’ve lived with over the years have brought me joy, made me laugh, provided me with hours of entertainment, frustrated me, saddened me, reminded me to be present, protected me and taught me how to nurture and care for them through sickness and injuries. 

Many of the animals we’ve brought into our lives seemed to own me rather than the other way around.  Over the years dogs and cats have laid on my bed or beside it when I’ve been ill, keeping watch.  When I’ve felt lonely and alone (after my divorce), my dog was always at my side.

I’ve been protected from dicey situations over the years by my dogs and gifted with dead mice and rats by my cats.  Our llamas taught me to be present and ‘get out of my head’ when I was working with them and our goats reminded me that everyone wants to be noticed and acknowledged.

Perhaps that’s why I love animals so much, because they are so present.  What’s important is the now, not what came before or what might be in the future.  And when they grieve, it’s evident.  They don’t try to distract themselves.

Each time we lose an animal to disease, old-age, or predatory creatures, I feel a huge loss.  And I wonder why I continue to bring pets into my life when their loss brings me such pain.

After we said good bye to “The Beauty” I stood on our deck looking out over our property.  Glancing down into the barnyard, I saw Lily our micro-mini pig, stroll with dignified purpose (for a pig) over to her wallow.  She stuck her nose in first and began to blow bubbles, then immersed herself completely and began to roll with blissful abandon in the muddy water.

Emerging, she spun in circles grunting happily, then raced as fast as her stubby legs allowed, over to a tree and rubbed her backside with passion on the bark.  She was in piggy heaven!

Oh, yeah!  That’s why I have pets.  They make me laugh even when I’m feeling sad.