It’s been an unbelievable year since the dusty little furball I now call Nala-Mia showed up.
She’s been with HBlu and I during some rough times. She was with us the day that leashed Blu was attacked by an unleashed dog. Interestingly, she showed no fear, waiting and watching. She followed us home, as she had been for a few weeks. I already worried about her at night; was relieved when she’d show up for breakfast. Was overjoyed the first day she let me touch her; the first day she ate from my hand.
We’ve been through a few twists and turns, barely avoiding craters of disaster. When she showed signs of respiratory distress, I feared the worst. I wasn’t able to get her into the carrier the first two times I tried. The third time wasn’t easy or graceful, but, it was successful. I figured she’d be annoyed with me, after that. I didn’t figure she’d be lost for three days in an animal hospital, and end up traumatized and unexamined.
Much like Harley Blu after his encounter, she just wasn’t the same when I got her back. She’s still a bit skittish if I move too fast toward her standing up. If I’m sitting, reclining, sleeping – she’s a love-bug.
Much like Harley Blu, I want her back the way she was before she was damaged. He’s getting there with the help of meds and chiropractic therapy. She’s in love with him, and he seems to be more understanding of that, lately.
I’ll confess, at times, I feel badly for them, both. HB was an only cat-child for almost 9 years. His breed has a preference for being the sole focus of attention. She just doesn’t completely understand the cat world. She has learned to play – as opposed to being terrified of strings and catnip mice. She has learned to interpret the exact moment when Blu has had enough play, and she scurries away.
I know Blu doesn’t like sharing. I know Nala-Mia wanted back out for several months. She’s not pursuing that as much. With hope, I interpret that as she is comfortable rather than defeated. I also know that the pre-yawn snap of her isn’t a real reflection of joy.
It is however, a real reflection of my joy. It is a comfort that she is safe – not hungry, not frozen, and bot likely to get run-over by a car.
I’ve mentioned before, COVID gave me the time to be patient with her. Afforded me hours of adjustment while working from home. So, I was particularly excited to see a call for Pandemic Pet Adoption stories. Our short-story appeared in Michigan Medicine Headlines this week. In fact, that brief (very brief), 223-word, 2 paragraph “caption,” turned into a more concise 165 word account.
So, maybe it may not have had to take as many words to summarize.
The struggle to reduce is still real. I’m still all for details, and, maybe, mildly less distrustful of edits.
My big-picture presentation will always be a gloriously detailed meal. Though, I concede, an edit is admirable as a taste-tempting appetizer.
It’s fall and comfort food. It’s a chance to be more consciously thankful, and people seem to be happier in general. Yes, there’s a connection there – between those two things.
The pride of my yearly crafting is my Thanksgiving card design. I spend the whole year thinking and looking at art trends. I toggle between simple and elegant and more complicated mini master-arts. I only call them that because each of the 25-30 cards I make each year is similar in style, but 100% an original like no other.
Sometimes my choice of action comes down to time and how much I have or don’t. Depending on how early or late I decisively decided to commit to a card and how complicated my choice is.
Breaking a card down into pieces helps determine the order of preparation and assembly. Early on I learned that gluing all the pieces together for each card individually takes way more time than an assembly line approach.
This year’s card was no exception. I decided to multi-media for a more impressive pallet.
Then, I played around with supplies on hand, measuring if there was enough of everything to create a full 30 or if some number would end up with slight back-ground, frame or brad variations. I miraculously came close to using one specific set of stock. I rationally suspected I may have a few shortages, but the likelihood of someone in one state sharing their card with someone they don’t know in another state assured me that was going to be ok.
I always over-cut, over-stamp, over-fold, in case of slips, skews, and off-pattern veering. And in case I forgot any new recipients I might have acquired over the past year.
Assembly would be straight forward once I established my steps and prepped my foundations.
Determine the length and width of the fabric first layer, cut 34.
Determine the length and width of the second paper frame layer, cut 34
Determine the length and width of the inked third layer, create 34
Fold and background ink 34 cardstock cards, assuring 34 size-match envelopes are available.
Gather 68 brads knowing some will be of similar shape and size, but likely different colors.
Punch 260 leaves, projecting 8 per card.
Pleased with my planning, I pronounced what all experienced, yet still unwise crafters (incredulously) proclaim at the beginning of any project.
The laughter was a much needed segway that softened what I needed to hear next.
In my attempt to stay on-path with Jeff’s wishes, I completely failed to recognize some somber facts. When Roger told me that he’d asked the funeral home to prepare Jeff because he wanted to see him, I was shocked.
How could it never have crossed my mind that his parent would want to see him one last time. Or that his sister was still waiting to see him. Or that his brother needed to say goodbye, as well as everyone else there.
It certainly wasn’t an intentional blockage of family or selfishness. I was honestly disconnected, from everything and everyone. Disengaged, I guess, until I found myself raising my hand.
Jeff’s father explained that I didn’t have to go in to see Jeff if I did not want to. That I could go into the room but not approach if I did not want to. Or I could, if I wanted to.
Roger held my hand and we stood in the back of the room, as others made their way upfront. I expected a casket. I don’t know why.
Instead, though, the man I thought I would never see again, lay on a well-disguised table. Jeff, tucked beneath a lovely quilt, looked just like himself, asleep.
We moved closer and stood in front of the few seats that had been assembled.
Jeff’s dad asked me softly if I wanted to say goodbye. I didn’t. I didn’t want to say goodbye and hadn’t expected I’d have to. If would have been much less painful to not.
But gently lead, I did. I touched Jeff’s shoulder, his brow, told him I loved him. I cradled his face, kissed his cheek and took the hardest walk of my life, away.
It may seem odd to explain it this way, but Roger’s arrangements were a most compassionate gift. I understand it was something he needed. I understand it wasn’t intended to serve only me.
So, while the image of Jeff, deceased in our bedroom, remains vivid, I also have that last time; peaceful, unexpected, important, comforting, real. All, that I didn’t know I needed.
I don’t think I could have stood to see the indignities required.
Not that my imagination didn’t go there.
Still, I imagine it is best as an unsupported vision.
The real vision would have surely been far worse.
At the end of the day, or at least my end of the day with other people, I politely passed on so many sincere offers.
No, I don’t want to stay somewhere else tonight.
No, I don’t want anyone to stay with me, either.
No, I don’t want Sadie to go home with you.
No, I want Sadie here with me and Miss Fred.
No, thank you, I’m not hungry.
No, please do not order me food, even if you were going to order for yourself, anyway.
No, I don’t think I need anything.
No, no need to call me later.
No, I don’t want to call you later, either.
Ok, yes, I will call you if I need anything, but, no, I won’t need anything tonight.
I’ve lost the time between the fish sandwich and the goodbye questions; and the time between the goodbye questions and turning down the bed covers. I slept in our bed, on my usual side with Sadie and Fred.
Freddie took up her usual awkward spot on my knees. Sadie lay by my side as if she was still happily sandwiched in her regular space between Jeff and me.
“I know you won’t understand this,” I told them, scratching simultaneous circles on their heads. “But, it’s just us girls now.” Fred blinked, said something in her scraggly voice, took a turn and snuggled in. Sadie rolled over closer and uncharacteristically licked my chin.
I fell asleep surrounded by the warmth of beating hearts and the comforting rhythm of familiar purrs and soft sleepy snorts.