Wednesday, April 20, 2005


She used to have another cat, remember? He lived in the Reef and didn’t have a bad life at all, except for a rather severe eye infection. She took him to the vet, they tried creams and salves but it was too late. The eye had to come off so she kept him at her place till he recovered. She called him Luiz Vaz, after the epic one-eyed poet. He was the most trusting cat, had the softest fur, and would start purring if she so much as looked at him for longer than 5 seconds. He adored her back.

Really, how could she take him back to the Reef after he’d realised how safe life could be with her, in a flat? So it was JIP and baby cat, herself recovering from leg surgery after having fallen off a 6th floor and being abandoned by her previous owner in the vet clinic, and him. And they all slept together and groomed each other and looked generally adorable, limbs entwined. She rung her best friend in tears bcs she could only sensibly keep 2 cats and she needed to take all 3 of them back to Portugal bcs how else could she make sure they had good lives? What to do with the baby one? Best friend, close to tears herself, said “What the hell, I’ll keep the baby, how do you say Hope in Hebrew? Tikvah? Sounds like a good name.” Then there were more tears but good ones. Life is so sweet at times it is almost unbearable.

Do you remember how she drove through the desert at noon, in the Summer, with three complaining animals and a car filled to capacity with all her stuff when she left Eilat on the way back to the kibbutz bfr she left Israel for good? Do you remember how the AC didn’t work, and how the sun was in her eyes, and how it seemed to take for ever and how the cats yowled the whole bloody time? Five tremendously long hours. And then she got lost, bcs she somehow always does, and ended up near the airport, which was a very good thing as it turned out bcs it meant she could return the car immediately and wait there for you instead of going to the kibbutz first. She was almost in tears of exhaustion by the time you arrived, pet carriers lined up on the bonnet so the cats could have some fresh air. Remember how you hugged her and laughed and said “It’s alright, Pip, you’re home now, we’ll go book hunting, you’ll see, it’s
alright now.”

It was
alright, it was more than alright. JIP and Luiz Vaz loved the kibbutz, they could roam free. Remember you took them to the vet to be checked out? The baby had the rod taken out of her leg and took to tree climbing, small furball of dark joy on a branch; JIP disappeared for hours on end, exploring; Luiz Vaz, as it turned out, had a broken pelvis. The vet suggested he be kept inside as much as possible but remember how he begged and begged that day to be let out again? She’d been sitting outside keeping an eye on them earlier on and he, lo and behold, had discovered the wondrous world of butterflies. She has an image burnt into her mind, him and JIP galloping down a grassy mound, chasing butterflies, little marvelled paws in the air, flicking at them. Oh the bliss. She let him out for just a bit and called him 10 min later. Remember how you became really worried bcs he didn’t come back - and he always did? Always. Remember how you got flashlights and went looking for him? Remember how you could not find him and you held her as she cried bcs she knew something terrible had happened to her poor lovely cat? How she was overcome by a paralysing slumber, so atypical? How she was woken up the next morning by her neighbour knocking on her door, telling her so sorry, I found him, he’s dead, and how she ran there and he was lying on the wet ground, it was so early the dew wasn’t gone yet, and he had two puncture wounds on his belly? You rushed back from the avocado fields when she rang you and helped her put it all together, two dogs had been seen chasing him, and bcs she’d let him out, and bcs his pelvis was broken, he couldn’t climb a tree and was killed. The vet said it must have been very quick. She found some comfort in that. None in the fact that the owners didn’t feel the need to apologise at all (one) or apologise in person (the other) [oh but she told them what she thought of them later]. It was just a cat after all. Little Tikvah, whom she'd always called Hum-Hum anyway bcs her furr is dark-brown, became her Hum-Hum after all. Only two cats now, see.

Remember how she always isolates herself when she’s hurting? Remember how you’d bring her food during your lunch break so she didn’t have to go to the dining room and face the owners? You always understood when she needed to be alone and would grab a Harry Potter and go to the Refet to sit there and read and weep ad lib. Guilt makes for poor digestion and lack of sleep. Remember how you went with her to buy a book for him, bcs that’s what she does when she loses an animal, be it cat or colt, she finds a pretty book in their memory. And for him, what could be more appropriate than a collection of Emily Dickinson poems, she who writes:

In the name of the Bee
--And of the Butterfly
--And of the Breeze
-- Amen!

She still cries when she thinks abt this cat for more than a brief moment. She still cannot quite reconcile herself w the fact that he will never have the easy, safe life she dreamt for him in her flat. Whenever she sees a butterfly she thinks of him. She chooses to see it as a sign, a silky head-butting as it were, his way of letting her know he is fine, he is somewhere chasing colourful, fragile butterflies, frollicking w them, perfectly happy.

She’s been to Israel recently. She’s found herself in the impossible position of having to decide which book to buy in your memory. Because, see, you died on her as well, and she may go to the Refet all she wants - in fact, she did - but there’s no comfort to be had from the cows this time, there’s no comfort to be had from anything really. There’s no vet to tell her it was swift and almost painless. There’s only knowledge of how many tonnes such a column of water weighs, and maybe the sound of bones breaking when it crushes human flesh? Who knows what happens when a tsunami devours you?

Remember how you used to purr to try and make her sleepy bcs she's an insomniac and she finds the sound so soothing, there is nothing quite like it? Remember how you used to head-butt her too while doing it? She’d play along by scratching you along your jaw line. It never worked but it always made you both laugh, so it was silky enough. Were you there when she bough Terry Pratchett’s Monstruous Regiment for you? You’d have liked that. Were you there the night she absolutely broke down and wept curled up in a ball by the sofa? And then while doing the laundry? And then while hanging the clothes? And then while taking a shower, and brushing her teeth while gagging bcs of the sobbing, and reading before sleep? Were you there when she asked you to give her a sign that you are
alright, that you are not too sad that you’re dead now, that you’re not worrying abt them too much, that you’re, somehow, somewhere, being well taken care of? Were you there when she begged you to find a way to let her know bcs she has a new brand of insomnia now, the one where she falls asleep early but is woken up by nightmares a few hours later and will not cannot go back to sleep?

And were you there the very next morning as she opened the window and found an impossibly big, impossibly yellow, impossibly beautiful butterfly trapped in the impossibly small brick space btwn the blinds and the netting? Were you there when she gasped and froze and thought This can’t be happening and shut her eyes firmly to steady herself, and re-opened them moments later to find the butterfly gone?

Were you there? Was that you? Do you think she’s mad for thinking it might have been your doing, that she’s simply so desperate to know you safe and not sorry, not torn, not bitter, so desperate to know you in peace that she’ll believe anything no matter how improbable? Surely all this love is not lost now, surely it exists somewhere, where it can still grow and be cherished. There are the trunks with the penguins, you know them so well. There must be winged trunks in some realm where old, worn-out loves go to die. There must be other trunks where current loves, now forlorn because one of the love entities is dead, curl up and sleep, occasionally yawning and stretching, gently rocking and enabling that which remains awake.

She chooses to believe true love of any kind can spin silk that defeats the need for solid presence and breath.

She chooses to believe death is weak - certainly weaker than your very own mulberry tree.



At 20/4/05 05:35, Blogger brooksba said...


You know I am not a religious person, yet I do believe in signs and miracles. There are moments in our lives where the impossible seems real and it is.

If it is a sign, it is a beautiful one. This post is very powerful. Please, keep sharing the stories. I know they are hard to write and hard to share. I also know that there are people out there who want to read them. I am one of those people. I want to know.



At 20/4/05 09:26, Blogger Noorster said...

oh please I'm crying again

At 20/4/05 10:01, Blogger Udge said...

Wondeful, thank you very much for writing this.

At 20/4/05 12:02, Blogger Ana said...

I know death is weak, and I know he sees you and wants nothing else than to let you know he's ok. So maybe it was a sign, and a beautiful one.


At 20/4/05 12:54, Blogger Jen P said...

It was there. It was golden and gorgeous and beautiful and lovely. And it was there. It so was.

When my cat Samantha passed from a horrible reaction to her yearly injections I took it very hard. And I asked that she come to me to let me know she was ok on 'the other side' and for 1 day she was there. I saw her. Her lovely, gorgeous self, sitting in the sun, warming herlsef. And she meowed to me. She was there.

And so was your butterfly. So was your love.

You're a beautiful writer, a beautiful soul and a wonderful person dear Lioness.

At 20/4/05 13:41, Blogger Diana said...

Love is stronger than death.

Thank you for this.

At 20/4/05 22:33, Blogger Dale said...

We're always wrong somehow, of course. Things are never quite as we understand them to be. But they're also never quite as we want them to be, or quite as we're afraid they might be.

Which means (as I reckon it) that it would be downright stupid not to accept a message like this. Precisely who it's from and how it was sent are questions we may never be able to answer. But any fool can see what it means.



At 21/4/05 15:41, Blogger Kristin said...

Oh Johnny...what a heartbreaking yet beautiful post. I'm sitting here stifling the sobs because I don't want my son to worry about me.

Your butterfly was there and I do believe your Tig sent it.

Thank you so much for the support you've offered me. It means the world to me.

At 23/4/05 15:02, Blogger CarpeDM said...

Since I'm sitting here in your living room and have seen the small space where the butterfly was trapped and realize that there is no way that butterfly could appear, I believe this was a miracle, a sign.

I believe Uzi is watching you and is smiling at your memories of the happy times and hoped this butterfly would help ease you through the painful mental anguish of mourning.

Beijos (you'll make a Portie out of me yet),


At 10/5/05 21:46, Blogger twisteddragonfly said...

Wanted to say I keep coming back to this and reading it over and over again. I can't stop. Would love to discuss it with you sometime. Your butterfly is my dragonfly. And yes, it was real. Believing that is the only thing that gets me thru some days. Good to hear from you.


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