rigor mortis

Earlier this week I spied two kittens in the backyard. One was older than the other, which seemed newly born and skittish, like an extra from a kitten calendar photo shoot. The one that caught my eye was the older one, amber-eyes and soft fluffy grey fur on his body with white feet. Our eyes locked when I saw him drink from the milk bowl I set out for them.

It was the wee kitten, perhaps because she was sick that ventured closer to me on Tuesday morning. I had gone out back to check on the drain from the earlier rains and there she was under the porch, a shaking ball of fur. I took her inside and tried to get some milk into her. Her eyes were dilated and she looked almost cujo-like. It was a bit off putting so I picked her up, put her in a shoebox with fleece fabric and a bowl of milk and set her up in the backyard. Then I came back inside and sanitized the counter.

The weather has been San Fransciscan in mood and swing, one day overcast and chilly, the next springlike and sunny. They are predicting a heat wave for the weekend.  It's hard to know what to wear. Tuesday was partly cloudy, and started with a with a sprinkling of light rain. There was a torrential downpour during the day that lasted well into the evening. The streets were so slippery that on the way home from the train station I fell, bruising up my hands and knees (and luckily not tearing up my dress).

Once home I bandaged myself and made my way to the backyard to check on the little one. There I made a startling, and grim discovery. The poor kitten had succumbed to whatever illness and passed earlier in the day. Her body, frozen in time, lay at the bottom of the staircase. It's such a natural occurrence, death among the species in the circle of life, one that happens every moment of every day, and yet it felt so foreign to me. I felt shellshocked and I can't say why it frightened me so much but I could feel the stiffening fear (the irony inescapable) of having to do what had to be done next.

It took a moment to self-compose and detach long enough to gather gardening tools and rubber gloves, to select a suitable location in the backyard. I was careful to not touch the body outright, instead using a shovel to transfer it from the ground to a my makeshift shroud of a biodegradable bag. I wrapped the body as best as I could and carred it to the shallow grave, and then buried her under the overgrown bush in the backyard, covering the grave with mulch. A simple yet small act of kindness for one of God's creatures. A prayer that the next act of kindness will be for one of God's living creatures.


I am back at it, in the "real world" slipping into the routine of an every day life: working, commuting, eating, sleeping--trying my best to hold onto the peace of mind from being away, trying hard not to lose myself, not to lose perspective.

breathing in, breathing out. breathing in, breathing out.

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