Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Monday, August 17, 2009


The cat is dying. I suppose that will do for gratuitous internet blog content. Drama, tragedy, and scandal are all the rage on the web. Whatever catches one's attention, a moment of voyeurism, or sympathy, I suppose.

"I don't want him to go," my son says.

Well, neither do I, not after thirteen years, my stealthy, black, anti-social ferret of a cat.

Somewhere, amidst the chaos of ordinary life with children, in its vibrancy and melodrama, its self-obsession and neurosis, a flash of the mortality of all things, the cat a skeleton with a tumor, sleeping behind the toilet.

What do we do? Set him up in the bathroom with water he won't drink and a cat box and two ratty, hair-lined cat beds. I give him rubs and hold him and wonder if he might make it because my son has kissed him and once, last year, when I accidentally uprooted (while weeding) a scarlet bean plant (gorgeous, healthy, productive), my son kissed the vine as it withered almost instantly in front of our eyes, then wouldn't you know, or would you never believe?, that plant, wilts and near-dies then (despite even a break in it's lower stalk--and of course I'd instantly replanted it in desperation), greens again. Lives.

I think of my novel, how I might be more literary, more serious, more important as a novelist if I'd killed off a few characters and encircled them with despair, melancholy, alcoholism--which always sells. But then life gives us more than we need of heartbreak. I don't think fiction needs to dream up sadness. It's a river through the landscape of every life, one way or another, and though we might like to glimpse another person's losses, laughter pulls us awake, and away, into the very fine land of perspective, where, though the cat lays dying, the baby and toddler make festive rolling over one another in paroxysms of hilarity and for a moment I recall the bold, squat face of my kitten, who my Jewish friend always said was surely a Jewish cat, and how the other month I had to pick the shit off his tail (what was he thinking?), and that he has never been a groomer or a lover of people, but that he has always liked me, and late at night will come for pats, like every other cat, or like a person, a friend, a lover, a child, to sit on your lap and be comforted for a short while.


  1. Death sucks. But I hate cats.

  2. That really made me laugh. Out loud. So, there you go, death and laughter happy together again.