The Morning After

March 21, 2003

Last evening was the longest I can ever remember. Michele and I alternated between a kind of shocked silence, tears, and pretense at normalcy. In gestalt therapy two terms are used to describe the current focus verses the rest of your life. When something is 'figure' it is your current focus and it often blocks your ability to see anything else in your life. 'Ground' is the term given to the rest of your life. Last night we each had periods where the loss of Abby was intensely figure and also periods where her death faded into the ground.

The hardest part was expecting to see or hear our little Abby-cat in her normal routine. Often times, just before we go to sleep, we'll lay across the bed watching television reruns. Abby would jump up on the bed and then curl up on my hip or chest and purr loudly. When I realized that she was never going to do that again I thought my heart would break. I woke up this morning without her raspy breathing inches from my face, her left paw poised to touch my nose again and again until I played with her.

We cried and cried after turning off the lights. Somehow going to sleep meant that it was really real. Letting yesterday slip away meant that we were that much farther away from our beloved little fur ball. We questioned our resolve to let go of Miss Abby in the darkness and had to rely of each other for answers and affirmations we did the right thing. Gradually our conversation slipped around to remembrances of Abby and the wonderful personality she possessed. Michele and I both believe in reincarnation, and we also believe that dogs and cats have a spirit that is part of a larger 'hive-mind.' We know that Abby has returned to her sisters and brothers, and that she took a lifetime of love and caring with her.

Nekko, our other cat, is acting oddly. She has never known a time without Abby. I know it will be a few days before she starts to adjust. I am not sure what changes we'll see in her personality. I hope that she comes back to us soon as we need her wonderful self to brighten our days and lift our hearts.

The CD that has had the most airtime in my car lately is Peter Gabriel's 'UP.' Filled with darker songs and themes one in particular stands out for me, and has since the first listen last fall, 'I Grieve.' In an interview, Gabriel explained that his earlier song, 'Don't Give Up,' had generated hundreds of letters from people who found solace in it's words and message. He went on to say that he hoped 'I Grieve' would touch people in a similar fashion. I find that I am finding solace in this refrain from the song: Life carries on.

I know that life will carry on, I know that we will gradual lose the heaviness in our hearts and that we will remember all the love and joy Miss Abby brought to our lives. Eventually we'll add a new kitten or maybe a puppy to our household. But for now I grieve.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.