Q dug the hole in the bed of marjoram patch where Kate used to like to lie in the sun. Sometimes she would lie there all afternoon. I stood in the driveway, holding her little body, wrapped in her purple blanket. She was still warm.
When he was finished, we consecrated the grave and he placed her gently at the bottom of it. We used the Committal from the Prayer Book -- we always use the Prayer Book for cats. As he filled the grave, I ran and got three double daffodil bulbs. They'll come up before the marjoram in the spring. We will think of her every time we walk by and see the bright yellow cups of the daffodil blooms, smell, later, the strong spiciness of the marjoram: Kate, camouflaged, her lovely tortoiseshell fur blending perfectly into the dappled sunlight against the leaves and twigs, her funny face with its black eye patch looking idly at us as we passed. A happy vantage point for her, for almost 18 years.
How she loved Q! She was his companion before I was -- it took her may years to tolerate my presence in the house, to allow me to stroke her. But I never evoked the devotion in her she gave to him: sitting on the arm of his chair while he graded papers, sleeping with him when I was out of town, giving him a long roll in the driveway to show him her white tummy when he came home at night, a paragraph or two of gibberish as she entered the house and found him there, another little sermon when he was feeding her -- long, ornate thank-yous in a spoken language only the two of them shared.
But I was the one who could give her her pills as her health began to fail -- she fought me and often got me, puncturing every one of my fingers at least once, the last one just today -- but she never won and it did not seem to make her hate me more. It seemed, in fact to make her hate me less: she seemed to understand that I was trying to help her, and not to resent it. She grew in generosity as she grew old. I wouldn't mind doing that myself, if I am given the chance.
Oh, why do we put ourselves through it? Why love, when we know in advance that love cannot save us from death, that we must one day weep for its loss? Why attach, when parting hurts us so? Why are our hearts so welcoming, so eager for invasion, so quick to enter into the hearts of others?
Well, some are not, of course. Many dare not love -- fear hobbles their hearts and will not let them cling to anyone, even though they long for someone to keep them company in the dark. Neither touching nor touched, they are undisturbed.
No. Not for me, this hermetic seal. With all its sorrows, love is what Incarnation is all about: the certainty of loss, and the willingness to love anyway. The still little ball of fur, and our tears, show this forth, wringing the heart as surely as losses ever so much more august. I will sign up again, I know. And again. And again. And again