Death - Cats & Shoe BoxesThursday, April 05, 2018
My high school friend Lee Lytton III died a few days ago. He was 74. I am 75. This has been happening a lot so I have been thinking about death and the lesser importance of what I used to think was important.
Today I became depressed because I could not find a Fuji storage card that I used in January 2016 to photograph former dancer Nina Davies who was back from England to visit her parents. I took some very rapid portraits of her with the burst capabilities of my Fuji. Davies was going to write about her obsession about the music that somehow is there between notes. The idea that my portraits would not be intended but somehow shot in between would illustrate her essay. That never happened and I gave up nagging her.
There is now a finality in those lost exposures.
While looking for those shots I found this one of my former little and most beautiful female cat, Plata. She liked the top of the fridge because of the pump that dispersed hot air above.
We moved to our present location in late January 20016. Plata became sick and died in December 2015.
When I told my granddaughter Lauren about this I could tell that she knew that I was going to bury her in the little garden of our new house. This I did.
When my father died in the mid-60s I never saw him dead. I have almost no recollection of the funeral or if I was the only person there. Of my mother it is different.
My Rosemary and I watched her expel her last breath of air on her bed. She was living with us in our house in Arboledas, Estado de Mexico. Rosemary does not remember but I do. A doctor came, the only one we could find. He was a veterinarian. He looked at my mother and then told me in as kind a voice as he could muster, “Está muertita.” The diminutive little-dead-one has a sound that almost lessened the shock for me.
By my count we have had 8 cats that died in the years we have been in Vancouver. One of them Cigarra we never found. Perhaps she was taken by a Coyote from VanDusen. The other cats I buried in our garden and somehow broke two spades doing it. Luckily Rosemary never saw my white female Polilla. She was eviscerated by a Raccoon and she was not a pretty sight.
Of Mosca, Rosemary’s black cat, I left him and Rosemary on the bed on my way to some job. They were watching Vertigo. When I returned I heard Rosemary scream, “Mosca has not moved. I think he is dead.” He was and probably died of some heart seizure.
Before Plata the sorriest death was our Toby. I had to take him to be put down because he was old and very sick. At Cats Only I was given a shoe box. Inside was Toby wrapped in a little towel. I buried him in the garden.
Now Plata is the one that will induce insomnia tonight after having found her photograph. She was very sick and shivering one night. We put her by the heat register in the kitchen. A few hours later she was dead. Rigor mortis can be shocking. The flexibility and grace of a cat is its identity.
The death of a father and of a mother is an experience we all have to go through before we consciously, or not, meet our own death.
But the idea of picking up a dead animal that you loved and then to place her in a hole in the ground is a wrenching experience that makes death that much more alive (if I can use that word).
Casi-Casi is getting old and Rosemary fears for him. He stares at us and sleeps between us in our marital bed (so much for that marital bed).
I keep wondering if he is aware of his identity of being a cat. I wonder if he can think. Is he frustrated that he cannot talk to us?
Somehow the death of a pet is more in your face. Does it lessen the impact of thinking that one’s days are numbered?