Two minutes into sleeping, not more than three, Toby woke me up by flying through the cat door noisily and alarmingly. It’s a quirk of mine: if awakened just after falling asleep, I’m up. It takes me what would have been a full REM cycle, about 90 minutes, before I can hope to recapture slumber.
“Drat that cat” I think, and then, suddenly and without warning, I’m in tears. Just a year ago I had Shel, and Beppo, and Zazou. I never dratted them. My little family, we’d been together through a lot. We took Beppo to France with us, one of the best cats ever. In France we got Zazou to keep him company, one of the prettiest cats ever. Together they lived a bi-national life with us and were part of our everything. And there was Shel, one of the best husbands ever, who really was my everything.
I had all that I wanted, except Shel’s health. Then a fast and careless driver killed Beppo, and Shel and I mourned as if he’d been our child. Next a slow and lethal cancer took Shel, and some days I mourn like there’s no tomorrow. And then Zazou walked out into the evening and never came back. My everything has disappeared, my life as I knew it is shattered.
Thus it is that half an hour ago I was peacefully asleep, and now, I’m here. I’m here to say that I’m going back to France in November, and in some ways I’m so sad about it. In our little town in France are some of the people I love most in the world, and they loved Shel too, and we haven’t yet had a chance to grieve his loss together. So what might sound like a glamorous “going to spend the winter in the south of France” is in reality going to mourn it all again, in the company of dear friends.
Less than a year ago we were there together. Now I’ll be alone.
I’ve got Leonard Cohen’s beautiful song Dance Me to the End of Love running through my head, and I’m thinking that yes, that’s what I did for Shel, danced our dance with him to the very end, the end of our love. And I wonder who, if anyone will do that for me. It’s hard not to feel stranded on the face of an indifferent planet, especially in the middle of the night, when even the flowers have closed their eyes.