Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Beginning

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning."

~Louis LAmour

Monday, June 29, 2009

May His Soul Be Young

There are two means of refuge from the misery of life – music and cats.
~Albert Schweitzer

In my Rachmaninoff I had both. Today marks the first month since his passing. May his soul be young and energetic again, romping in the green grass that he loved. And when evening comes, may he sleep in the company of geese and always feel the warmth of my arms around him.

How I miss my Man of the Forest!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Love and Grief

Photo courtesy of Earth Pictures

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

~Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Grief and Love

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

"Grief is neither a disorder nor a healing process; it is a sign of health itself, a whole and natural gesture of love. Nor must we see grief as a step toward something better. No matter how much it hurts — and it may be the greatest pain in life — grief can be an end in itself, a pure expression of love."

~Gerald May

Gerald G. May, M.D. (1940-2005), practiced medicine and psychiatry for twenty-five years before becoming a senior fellow in contemplative theology and psychology at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Bethesda, Maryland. He was the author of many books and articles blending spirituality and psychology, including Care of Mind/Care of Spirit and The Dark Night of the Soul.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In Clover

A young Rachmaninoff revels in June clover

In mid June clover runs wild here through meadows and lawns, providing a wonderful feast for rabbits and groundhogs. Rock loved to nap in a bed of clover. This poem is for him:

Wilderness Lost
(for Bramble, my cat)

She was the wilderness in me
The secret solitary place
Where grow the healing herbs.
We had recognized each other
Years ago; the bond was deep.
Now since her death
Two seasons ago
The landscape is ghostly.
No small black and gold panther
Steals through the long grasses
And pounces on a mouse.
No one curls up on the terrace wall
Gathering the day together.
No round shadow sits on my sill
Late at night, waiting to be let in,
And then in one jump comes to lie beside me,
A long pillow of purrs along my back.

Distant, passionate one,
I miss you in my bones.
I miss you in my heartbeat.
I have mourned you for nine months.
What does not leave me
Is your great luminous eye
Open to its golden rim,
The darkness so dark, the deepness so deep there
I wanted to go with you to death
But in a few seconds
The needle did its good work.
You had gone–
And in a new time
I grow old without you.
It is all very still now,
The grief washed out

~ May Sarton

Monday, June 15, 2009

Turkeys Here Bringing Cheer

One of the wild turkey hens with all six poults.

Rock loved hanging out with turkeys (October 2008).

This is the third summer that two hens have brought their poults to my protected wooded acre. They will raise them here over the next few months. The family arrived yesterday, more than a month early, and the poults are only about three days old. Click on the photo to get a better look.

I was so happy to see them and delighted that the hens remembered me. Wild turkeys are highly intelligent creatures. They have excellent vision and hearing, remember faces, see colors and recognize voices. My intuition tells me that these are last year’s hens raising a new family. Hens stay with their poults for about 5 months, well into November, and that's another reason why they remember me and seem happy to be here again.

Hens team up to raise their young together, which boosts the poults' chances of survival. Poults mainly eat insects and enjoy foraging in the garden beds and surrounding woods, sticking close to their mothers.

Though I am thrilled to see them again, I wish Rock were here to enjoy them with me. He was so gentle with the turkeys and the hens were very comfortable around him, even with poults as tiny as these.

I miss him so.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sweet Cub

A white tiger cub from Aschersleben Zoo is hand-raised
at Zoo Director Dietmar Reisky's home in Aschersleben,
Germany. Photo: the Daily Telegraph UK.

When I came across this photo of an adorable white tiger cub, I thought: This little guy looks the way I feel, a bit dazed. For him the world is a strange, new place, and in the midst of grief the same seems true for me. Thank goodness animals always make me feel better.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Grief Poem

The dish is empty.
Quiet fills the house.
Bits of fur still in his brush
beside the catnip mouse.
Nights are sleepless,
staring into black.
Nothing in this world
can ever bring him back.

I wrote this on May 23, 2009, sensing that the end was near.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Strange Coincidence

An old Rachmaninoff collar appeared out of nowhere this week.

As I mentioned in a post from May 14th: From time to time my neighbor will come across an old cat collar belonging to two of my three cats, Tazetta, Kia and Rachmaninoff. Over the years, they all lost a ton of these break-away safety collars, making their way through thick brush and doing God knows what else in the garden and woods. I wondered if they had a special place where they yanked them off because of the many bells I always attached to each collar in an effort to botch their success in hunting.

Whenever I find one of these old collars hanging on the front door knob, I know my neighbor has been doing yard work or walking through his woods. Since their deaths in 2003, he has found several collars belonging to Tazzie and Kia but never any of Rock's, even though he lost the most as a Man of the Forest would.

But on Monday, June 8th, exactly one week since Rachmaninoff’s death, I arrived home from work to find a very old collar on the doorknob with his name on it. An eerie feeling ran through me and I immediately went over to my neighbor’s house to ask where he had found the collar.

“Sorry, but it wasn't me,” he said.

I visited all my other neighbors and asked them, but none of them knew anything about the collar.

I tend to be more skeptical than most people, and it may just have been a strange coincidence, but I won’t discount the possibility that the sudden appearance of this old Rock collar was a sign that his spirit is near.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Grieving for Rachmaninoff

"Your coat is made of magic
and around your table angels play
I will rave and I will ramble
I'll do everything but make you stay
Then I will cry when ye go away
I will cry when ye go away."

~Mike Scott of The Waterboys
from Fishermen's Blues

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Even for Kings

My Rachmaninoff, the King
and Man of the Forest

May 6, 1991 ― June 1, 2009

"Death comes for us all.
Even for kings he comes."
~Robert Bolt

The King was cremated yesterday, and though the Balinese believe that only through cremation can the spirit be released from the body and be set free to reincarnate again, Rachmaninoff''s spirit left his broken body seconds after death. Melanie described his departing energy as "a whisper," and I felt it as soft, soft, soft. His spirit continues to linger here.

(This photo was taken in April 2009.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Requiem for a King

My Rachmaninoff, the King
and Man of the Forest

May 6, 1991 ― June 1, 2009

Eighteenth Variation from Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini, Op. 43 (Instrumental) is now Rachmaninoff's requiem. It was the music that inspired me to name him so many years ago and seems almost like a narrative of how joyously and deeply he lived and loved. He was incredibly brave in the last months of his life. He died peacefully at home this afternoon with assistance from our wonderful and loving vet team, Melanie and Julie, after a long and hard-fought battle he wasn't meant to win. In the end, my Rachmaninoff was glad to go. His little body was broken and he was so tired. We were together for 18 years. Without him, I will never be the same.

“I would have followed you, my brother. My captain. My King."
~ Boromir to Aragorn from The Fellowship of the Ring