Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Letting Go...

After great pain a formal feeling comes--
The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
The stiff Heart questions--was it He that bore?
And yesterday--or centuries before?The feet, mechanical, go round
A wooden way
Of ground, or air, or ought,
Regardless grown,
A quartz contentment, like a stone.
This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow--
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.
                                       -Emily Dickinson

I think that, when I had to study this poem in college, I didn't understand it.  The loss of several family members in recent years, and of course the loss of my darling heart-cat Charlotte has taught me, bitterly, exactly what it was about.

So I guess the formal feeling is here.  Every once in awhile, something will happen that will bring fresh tears to the eyes...  I'll be in the grocery store, in the dairy aisle, and will have my hand on one of the smallest milk containers that I used to buy only for her.  Or I'll be cleaning and find a forgotten strand of fur.  Or I'll be looking for something on my computer, and stumble across a picture of her, in all of her imperiousness.  But the "in betweens" are getting longer.

While she was sick, we were fostering a litter of kittens, along with their mother.  We got them when they were 3-4 days old, and guided them through their growing weeks until they were big enough to be adopted.  They made me laugh.  Sometimes, I'd be laughing through my tears of grief, but they were good medicine, even after she died.

There was Lemmy, our little explorer kitten.  Mischevious, daring, bold, yet affectionate and kind.  He was, I am fairly certain, deliberately trying to make us laugh a few times there.

His sister Lita, who was a bit standoffish at first, but really came out of her shell towards the end.  She loved to cuddle with me.

Sweet, affectionate, cuddly, purry little Joanie.  She looks like a little teddy bear.

And Samantha, independent, brave, intelligent and wise beyond her age.

They've not only gone back to the shelter, but have all been adopted by what I truly hope are loving families.  May none of them ever be returned to the shelter when they are elderly and "used up."  Or be found wandering the streets, bedraggled, hungry and confused.  No, may their lives be filled with warm laps, golden sun puddles, bottomless bowls of food, and love.

Their mother is still with us.

Janis is a bit of a special case.  She is very frightened of people, and spent all of her time as a nursing mom hiding from us, and hissing from behind boxes or in the back of dark crates.  We gave her space, because she didn't need anything else to upset her... she was a young (10 months old) mom, who was learning how to take care of four babies.  And she did a good job, in the end., even if there was a bit of a learning curve.

She's coming out of her shell now...  just not with me.  (I'll try not to be insulted!)  She adores Jeff.  She not only lets him pet her without hissing, but is now coming out to see him.  Even jumping up on the bed to visit with him.  She purrs for him, and gives him face kisses.

So there's hope for Janis.  She had her first birthday with us this month, and we are trying to show her that we are not scary.

Our other cats have been very patient with us, though I think they're rather glad that we don't have kittens around anymore.  It was like they breathed a big audible sigh of relief, in unison!

The dogs have been good.  In the beginning, they were why I was able to get myself out of bed in the morning.  And, being the sensitive creatures that they are, they were constantly clowning to try to get us to laugh at them.  They were very worried about us.

We are coping.  My heart is still heavy, and the house definitely feels the loss of its queen.  The other cats are all joys to me, but none of them are Charlotte.  Her force of personality leaves a hole that will never be filled.  And I suppose that is how it should be.

I should add, thank you, thank you to those of you who sent me condolences and healing thoughts.  It helps so much, when one is going through this, to simply not feel alone.  It helps.  Tremendously.


  1. Oh, I've been thinkin' of you guys, and keepin' my paws crossed that your doin' okay. I know you will miss your sweetie terribly, and I will hope that you will find comfort, if not distraction, in the rest of the pack.
    Ruby ♥

  2. There is no timeframe on grief. But we have to admit that the comedy routines of kittens help lift the heart. :) We have had a couple of those young momma cats and it is interesting to watch them come into their own after raising babies so young. Purrs to all of you....

  3. I am so sorry that Charlotte passed away. I hadn't realized it and I know she was a very lucky girl to have found you. You guys gave her a life that she probably wouldn't have been able to have with anyone else! All cats should be loved and cherished the way she was. You're in our thoughts and prayers -- I know it isn't easy!

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss. My circle of friends seems to be suffering lots of loss right now.

  5. Jeanne is right in her comment above. Grief takes as long as it takes, and everyone is different. As for routine, that's also true. When we lost Sammy, it actually helped to stay with our routine of volunteering at the shelter.

    Know we are thinking of you, and sending purrs and prayers of comfort.

  6. Sighing -- grief is just awful. Your noticing a hair reminded me of when Fang died -- every time I found his hair I saved it, and rolled it up in a little ball that I have still. I could cry right now, remembering -- and it's been nearly a year. And he wasn't even here a year, before he went. Charlotte was much more with you. Unimaginable. Thank you for the poem. It is spot on.