What can I say? Some days there is no way to process life but through writing.
My morning walk started so beautifully, with the overcast sky, the cool air, and the scent of flowers on the wind. A beautiful mourning dove hovered over my head, looking for her nest, I thought. Unless she was hovering over me to bring me a message, which is quite possible because these birds are connected to my grandmother. I saw it as a good sign, along with the three silly squirrels who were playing a fierce game of tag, and a happy black butterfly that smiled at me as she flew by.
The second park I try to visit on my morning walk is something of a fairy wonderland, if you disregard the droppings left behind by the resident alcoholics. After I picked up an empty booze bottle, a can of worms from a fishing excursion, and an empty six pack carton, I was able to sit on a bench and enjoy the water for a while. Many of my Monday mornings start here, at the water’s edge. We have a little river ‘round here, and at this park I can watch it head into Old Town, and sometimes see people out fishing in their boats. Or I might just stand at the edge of the park, like today, and look out over the drop of the dam, staring at the frothy build up as the water cascades over the edge. It’s a fun little drop – not a Niagara Falls or anything – just a little waterfall that makes the view interesting.
I have imagined it as a good murder site for some time. I am forever thinking of plots and ideas for the many novels I intend to write one day, that are all on a slow-cook right now, back in my brain in some kind of Dutch oven. Today, as I stood over the railing looking into the water, I felt for sure this was the scene for the first murder of one of my mysteries. The fencing that I leaned over was made of stone and a wrought iron gating material, making it look rather a lot like a cemetery structure. The water drop below showed debris I don’t usually see, like a giant tree stump, a soccer ball, and bottles of booze or tea. For a while I was worried that there might really be a body in the water – there is a sign right where I stand, after all, that warns about the undertow, and how strong it is; that it can pull a body under and drown a victim, so careful, careful, it warns. Maybe there was an argument over the World Cup already, and someone tossed his drunken friend over the edge, along with his Nerf soccer ball.
Still it was a beautiful day, so I resigned myself to enjoying the moment. Little cheeps were close at hand, and I looked around to find four little ducklings chirping away. All in a clump, they cheeped loud and long, ‘till mother duck found them finally, and helped guide them away from the dangerous edge of the falls. It was the cutest, sweetest site, as mother duck and her three ducklings were re-joined by the four stragglers. And off they swam. But I kept hearing more cheeping. Are these just extra loud ducklings, who are destined for a life on the stage with that kind of lung power? No, actually, there were two more ducklings that hadn’t yet braved the water fall. Seeing mom and the others sailing off without them, the final two ducklings race toward the fall in a panic, trying to catch up to the troupe.
Over the edge they flow, and then bobble up and down in the frothy, tumultuous water at the bottom of the falls. Both of the ducklings struggle in the fierce bubbling mass – the water is high today, and the current is strong. One of the ducklings manages to find the large tree stump, and struggles his way onto the wood, finding purchase at last on the floating device. But the undertow is strong, and the stump wobbles, tossing him once again into the violent water. He bobbles, and struggles, and rights himself again on the wood. The other duckling has already lost his battle with the angry river god. I watched these two ducklings struggle for their lives, swimming and tossing, going under and resurfacing. They spent so much energy on surviving, they couldn’t even cheep out for their mother to find them, so I called to her, trying to tell her where they were. But at last, they both were under, and didn’t come back up again.
I started crying. I looked in vain for their little fluffy heads. I waited, and worried, and cried some more. And finally, I plucked two white wild flowers from off the vine on the ground, and tossed them into the river, mourning the loss of the innocent little lives.
I thought I lost another innocent last week. We have a situation of strays, at our house. My sister is something of a cat magnet, and we’ve had strays visiting us for years now. Axel, Xander, Sneakers, Bear. Some strays we make attempts to adopt, like Petey McGee. (actually peanut butter cup, but Petey stuck pretty good) Petey is the offspring of two other strays, Tiger and Smokey Joe. Tiger makes good kitties, so we also have Piglet and Ozzie now as porch kitties, because we already have Siris, Bunny, Doodle and Petey indoors. Christ. We made attempts to adopt Zorro, which ended badly, and are now feeding Snaggle Tooth as well.
Snaggle is the one I thought we lost the other day. He’s something of an old cur, we don’t know if he belongs to someone or just roams the land looking for fights and women. His legs are broken and crooked, making him walk like a wounded cowboy, or more likely, a pirate that should have a peg leg. His fur is long and mangled, and his eyes are distant and wild. He howls when he is hungry, and growls at you when you bring him food. But he’s the cutest damn thing. So we talk to him, and tell him how cute he is, and he’s been around a couple of weeks.
Last week he was howling so loud, and walking so badly, I thought he had the Death. I went out in the rain, and stood as close to him as he would let me, across the street on the neighbors lawn. I told him it was ok to die. I told him he was a good kitty, and loved, and that it was ok to die, because I was right there with him, and I loved him. He howled another howl and then fell silent behind a bush, while I stood in the rain and wept over a cat I hardly knew.
Of course those surly pirate types don’t go that easily, so he came back and got into a fight with our Piggie (Piglet, named after the character in Winnie the Pooh) so we called him a sonuvabitch and told him we would stop feeding him if he pulled this crap again. We fed him anyway the next morning, but still, you can’t treat our porchies like that! But other than the miraculous resurrection of Snaggle Tooth the Ferocious, Death has been all around me lately, though I imagine it is always all around me; I’m just usually too distracted by life to notice, or too caught up in myself to see Death’s claw marks in the sand, or his scratches on the trees.
Friends that I love have watched friends that they love die in their arms. Colleagues of mine have had parents and uncles die. And what can I do to ease their pain? Nothing. Nothing helps this kind of thing. All I can do is love. Love those around me that are hurting, and hold them to me as close as I can. Love those that are dying, and send them off with as much positive energy as I can muster. Love the world, and the earth, and the precious moments we have right now. Love in the here, and the present, and stop holding it inside me like I’m a stingy old miser who is hoarding it all for himself. I want to love strongly, and fiercely, passionately and well. I want to love deeply and many and for no apparent reason other than I love to love. Because I don’t know how many tomorrows I will have. I don’t know when the tide of life will pull me under and keep my head below the waves. I struggle and I fight to live on, and live well, but I don’t know, do I?
So I must love today. And hard. And much. And I just pray that those I care about will embrace me, accept my gift, and allow me the beauty of now.
i don’t know how to do this.
i don’t know how to open myself up, and leave my heart out for people, when i’m just not sure of the outcome. although that statement is pretty ironic, considering i’m sharing my soul to complete strangers who don’t know me, and likely don’t care.
i know that it’s what people have done for a millennia; give their hearts away, to lovers and friends, only to have their hearts dashed on the rocks or squished like grapes being made for wine.
and sometimes that’s how i feel it is for me. that the bigger purpose in life, humanity as a whole, is so much more important than my tiny life. that i am the grape. and the juice flows out of me, spills from my skin, just to feed all of mankind a thimble of wine. but am i only the juice? isn’t there more for ME as an individual? i’d like to hope so…but i’m wary.
i’ve spent my whole life hiding myself from people. it was a necessary part of my life, to hide my reality from those around me. my person, my soul has kind of been on the lam for forever. worried about people learning the truth about me, my dark secrets, the skeletons in my closet, the shame that i wear like a scarf around my neck. sometimes i will let out some little part of me, some white flag or token offered to a friend, but i’m always looking for a sign that i must retreat. i’m always ready to pick up my belongings and take to the hills if there is any movement that looks suspicious.
and i guess i’m being challenged right now, and i’m not sure how to proceed. so many situations in my past have made me wall myself up in a tower, like a creepy Edgar Allan Poe kitty in a horror story of love and not love. so i’m used to that, i’m used to the comfort of obliteration. i’m used to not having what i desire or deserve, because i’m too busy spending all my energy hiding my beauty and uniqueness from the world, and don’t see those around me who would actually love me, and treat me well, and honor my life instead of try to destroy it. and here i am now, faced with uncertainty, and fear, and small situations that mean a great deal to me, even if they don’t mean a great deal. and i question motives, and intentions, and actions. i look for hidden information in others, that might reveal to me that i am cared for, or longed for, or sought after. because i can’t always see it, even if it is right in front of me. because i’m used to cutting, not binding. i’m used to running from, not running to. and my soul wants desperately to pick up its skirts and take off at a breakneck speed, and dash away to the safety of my tower, and pull its hair up so that no one can ever follow.
but my heart doesn’t seem to notice. my heart just jumps back in the vat, ready to be trounced again, ready for the wine of life to flow from her veins. and what else can i do, but support the alcoholics of the world with my life essence?