Catching the Echoes – An observation About Love, Loss and Memory

I have owned Burmese cats for years, starting in 1980.  They are a lively, affectionate, intuitive and very smart breed.  Burmese originated in and around Thailand and Myanmar, and spent centuries hanging around people – generally in temples.

Merlin and Morgan
My first two Burmese cats were a pair of brothers named Merlin and Morgan. They were supposed to live to their mid-twenties. Or so I thought. I did wake up when they were fifteen and realized that they were old, but they were with me, they were fairly healthy, though the one boy’s kidneys were iffy, and we would all continue as we were, unchanging. Or so I thought.  The first one died in my arms of a heart attack on August 28, 1996.  I was stunned.  His brother died one month later to the day of kidney failure secondary to a severe hantavirus that his old body survived, but which threw him into a decline. I hadn’t wanted him to go, but I had realized that I was fighting against his best good, and I told him that I wouldn’t insist on his living and would let him go if that was what he wanted.  It was.
There is no ‘back to the drawing board’ when love has touched you.  Whether you believe in forever or not, the very fact that your life has intersected and run together with another’s has changed you. You are not the person you were before you came to love the one who has departed. You have an altered perspective, you have a part of you that grew in response to that other one. You have a way you would respond to the other’s voice, jokes, antics, love. You can’t go back to what you were before you loved the other.
But life does go on, and grief must be dealt with and resolved in one way or another. I didn’t expect to ‘replace’ my boys, but I needed to have pets in their places, so Boomer and BJ came to me. Boomer is a Burmese. BJ’s father was a Burmese (a particularly nice one!), so though he’s a Bombay and black, he looks, through the face, like my first Burmese. That is when I encountered the echoes. 
I started catching hints, sometimes faint, sometimes very strong, of my old boys.  A way one of the kittens reacted to being stroked. A way of tilting the head.  Finding one curled up on a pillow and raising its head to blink at me in a familiar way.  The sound of a voice.  It was not as though the lost ones had come back as those two kittens, but as though, somehow, I was given back the part of me that had loved them. As though I had been given a chance to re-live their kittenhood, to revisit memories I had forgotten in the rush of the years, to have the hurts, the sad memories somehow smoothed away, and the memories of the young, strong, lively ones returned to me, fresh and clear, unspoiled.

I have experienced this with all lost loves, memories that touch my shoulder and remind me that love still exists in me.  I recently opened a book and found a folded slip of paper with a note from my father saying that he believed in me, and enclosing a check to ‘keep the wolves from the door’.  Driving through Vermont one autumn afternoon, seeing a hillside with a familiar slant behind a yellow house…  My grandparents’ old house, which they sold decades ago, now repainted.  Landmarks had changed, but I remembered.

Those memories, touching our experiences, are a part of us, a reminder.   Something to be embraced.

Surviving – A Celebration

Today I am celebrating surviving.

It has been a difficult, wheel-spinning, feeling tired, wondering why I have been put on the earth, doubting my abilities, living in a messy room and wanting to gas up my car and drive to Montana weeks (two, in fact).

I haven’t been to my blog, I’ve written maybe 1200 words in the past two weeks, I’ve cast an eye over the lovely posts and really nice comments and done…  nothing.

I’m working on a love story and I have a scene waiting to be written.  The heroine has come back to her home after being months away caring for a kinswoman with a new baby.  She arrives late, and she awakens in the night to the quiet sound of music.  Someone is sitting outside, softly playing a harp (it’s earlier times than now).  It’s lovely to listen to and she wonders who the musician is.

She is going to go out in search of the player and find the love of her life.  It will be a nice scene…  But I haven’t written it.  It has just been one of those difficult stretches of time that come for no particular reason.

Weather?  The raveled ends of old griefs?  (They say the first year after a bereavement is the worst).  I don’t know, but it has been a difficult week.

So what am I celebrating?

My friends, (whose comments I will answer this weekend, whose posts I will visit) I am here to tell you that the mood, ennui, exhaustion – whatever – is passing and I know I will be back to my usual form.  That  is something to celebrate, the knowledge that comes over time that moods do pass, energy does return, the world moves on and you move with it.

Maybe that isn’t exactly a small celebration.  It is, in fact, a lesson we learn after a long time.  What the heck!  I’m celebrating it anyhow.

And tonight…maybe…I’ll have her pause at the entry to the small courtyard, watching the harpist’s fingers move softly over the strings, and have her meet his gaze – and watch his face, somber in repose, warm into a sudden smile.

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This is a blog hop thought of by delightful, funny, enjoyable and very nice Viklit.  It is, for me, a way to remember how happy and fortunate I am, and how I am surrounded by good people.  (Thoreau said, “I have never gotten over my surprise at having been born in the most estimable part of the world – yes, and in the very nick of time”)

Why don’t you join?  It will certainly make you smile once a week!