As an apartment dweller and happy to be one, there is always drama going on in the nooks and crannies of our two adjoining buildings. Who is doing laundry on what days, who should wash on Saturdays or on Mondays or on Fridays, why can’t the manager fix the termite eaten, rot infested banisters on the balconies, can you really grow a sustainable garden in flower pots, why does it take it six months to fix stairs that are a lawsuit waiting to happen, why did the manager’s nephew get the best apartment and parking place in my complex, did the guy in the #8 really died of a heart attack at his best friend’s wedding giving his best man speech? I thought I heard a cantor singing the prayers for shiva several days later – I was on my way back from the laundry room and hearing Hebrew in the morning was a bit of a out of body experience. And, oh, my God, his girlfriend had moved in two weeks before he died, and now his mother and the girlfriend are packing up the apartment so says my friend who lives in the adjacent building and can see the inside of the apartment from her balcony. Darling Amber got a dog because of a nervous condition even though we’re not allowed to have dogs, and heresy says that she is going to move out of the complex next month.
The nook and cranny I’m currently involved with on a more than nuanced level is that of Maggie the Cat. I tell you up front that I am not a cat lover, but I do appreciate the beauty of a cat and Maggie is actually one of the most beautiful animals that I have ever seen. Her disposition could make Ron Paul’s and Rick Perry’s heart melt. Maggie belongs to my neighbor who lives downstairs from me. She also has a male cat named Max who is beautiful but not so sweet. These cats are my neighbor’s life. She has poured every ounce of love she possesses into these cats. Recently, as cats will do, Maggie developed kidney problems. It’s common. I learned this from a cat I inherited years ago. Maggie went to the hospital for treatment, came home and then a month later, Maggie was back in the hospital with a condition that in time would only get worse. The condition of Maggie has thrown my neighbor in to a condition known as anticipatory grief – the expectation that someone or some animal may die ahead of the death.
We’ll all die sooner or later but it’s not particularly healthy to anticipate our death or someone else’s. The anticipation makes for a life of stress and anxiety. Let’s not get too far ahead of our demise, please. Over the course of our life, the possibility of death inevitability causes us to develop some mental and emotional controls over how we cop with our death. We humans probably do a pretty good job keeping thoughts of death at bay, but sometimes we lose control, sometimes our thought process goes awry , especially when a person or a beloved pet becomes ill.
It’s such a transcendent feeling to watch Maggie the Cat in all her splendor walk stealthily around my neighbor’s apartment. Her unconditional love is a spiritual experience. When my neighbor is in meditation, Maggie walks around her chair and drapes or curls her tales around my neighbor’s legs and makes the smallest meow sounds. She hops up on the coffee table to drink, look around to see if I am watching, goes back to her glass and daintily takes a few more licks. She cradles her body in various positions on mats, boxes, tables and chairs. Maggie really owns her space and has deep gratitude for her master. Watching Maggie is a real meditation. I love her stillness when she is sleeping. I love the feel of her silky fur when she is at rest. I think I love this Maggie the cat.
I hope for the best for this lovely Maggie, but my neighbor and I know the inevitable outcome. There is a cycle of life in all living things and we honor it’s ebb and flow. We are grateful for our knowledge of those we love, we are grateful for the presence of a living being who brings joy into our life and others. I think it’s one of life’s privileges to know a graceful animal, my Dobie, Flojo, Kaya the magnificent, Pi and Tush and Cleo, my trio of doxies, and Maggie the Cat.
Death is lonely and death is a finality.