When your mind is not generating thoughts, and all you’re left with is pure emotion, how does that feel? No logic. Heart wide open. Naked. Raw. Terrifying. Alone. And yet connected, rooted.
Tuesday morning, with my little kitty Jack dying at my knees, all I could do was let out a series of breathless otherworldly howls.
Jack? JACK! JACK! HELP! HELP!!! Please HELP! HELP!!!
I saw his last breaths leave his belly, heard his final mew exhaled, and felt his tiny 7 pound body go limp.
Jack? Don’t go!! Please don’t go. I love you.
I was overcome with fear, anger, sadness. Immersion into fear. Immersion into love. The complete vulnerability of each of those states. The relatively tiny fight or flight part of my brain firing like a violent lightning storm – I was there. Mentally paralyzed, and yet swirling in the soup. The fear wanted to take over. It wanted everything. And I wanted to be there for Jack. To be love and be loved.
Then the rest of my brain tried to work – the “action” part kicked in out of pure desperation. He was already gone. But I couldn’t just be with him. I had to do something. This was futile. And yet I still pursued it.
Who do I call? I need help! What do I do? I don’t know anyone’s number! I carried Jack to our bedroom, a place where he joined Scott & me every night for snuggles and flops. Laid his ginger body carefully at the foot of the bed. Oh my sweet baby. Tried to give him mouth to mouth. Not too hard Jen! He’s a kitty. Little puffs! Ran back to the office to grab the phone, then into the kitchen with Jack limp in my arms.
What’s the vet’s number? God I need the vet! Where’s the number? On the fridge. Between sobs yelling “HELP!! HELP ME!!! HELP!” to anyone and no one in particular. Jackie stay with me. Please stay with me. Dammit I mis-dialed again.
“Animal Hospital. Please hold. [click]”
“No no no NO!!! Don’t put me on hold! Dammit dammit DAMMIT!!! DON’T PUT ME ON HOLD”[mis-dial, mis-dial, redial trembling]
“DON’T PUT ME ON HOLD DON’T PUT ME ON HOLD!!! JACK SPRAT IS DYING I NEED HELP PLEASE HELP PLEASE HELP US.”
I remembered how to use shoes, wrapped Jackie in his favorite orange blanket, and enrolled my neighbor (thank you EB) to quickly brush snow off our car. We (me and Jack) started to the vet. I was in no condition to be driving. A half block later, it hit me. He was already gone. What am I doing? We need to be home. We need to be home. Jackie has already gone home. Let’s go home.
All this in five minutes. Felt like forever. A lifetime of memories, to be sure.
Afterwards, for the last few days even, I was terrified that I had abandoned this sweet little creature in his most peaceful moment. How? Through the primal expressions that had unwound from places deep inside me. And the more I sit with this, the more I see how fear wants me to believe that. But I will not.
The more I sit with this, the more that Jack’s sweet and tender love reminds me that the way I was with him on Tuesday was perfectly imperfect and beautiful.
The more I sit with this, the more I realize that I can continue to share love with Jack by sharing love with others in the ways he so tenderly, so freely gifted that love to me.
The more I sit with this, the clearer I can see the way through the pain is through heart-wide-open love.
Thank you little angel.
- Brené Brown on Vulnerability (TEDx Talk) (TED.com)
- brave lion (wordpleigh.wordpress.com)
- Cheers to Jack Sprat…Teachings from a Feline Friend (feastingonlife.wordpress.com)
- Tiny Buddha post on Love Versus Fear (tinybuddha.com)