Thursday, October 25, 2012

Unexpected emotional fallout

When I was little, my dad used to sing Cat Steven's song Moonshadow to me as I went to sleep at night.  (Among many others, but that one always stuck with me for some reason.)  I have no idea why, but I always had a really strong connection in my head between that song and our cat, Ashley, a big ole russian blue tomcat.  (Dad and I used to have constant arguments about whether he was a black cat [I firmly believed he was.  He honestly looked black to me!!] or grey...) In that sort of ephemeral way that things connect when you're a child, Ashely was my moonshadow, that's just how it was.

Me and Ashley helping dad in the kitchen sometime in the mid 80's...
Fast forward about 20 years, and now I sing  Moonshadow to my own kids almost every night.  I remember being really struck when Cadence was first born, and I first began singing it, that I got the same comfort and pleasure out of singing it to her as I did when I was little and Dad was singing it to me.  It was more than nostalgia-it was total recall.  Far beyond simply enjoying getting to share the experience, it restored that safe feeling entirely.

Anyway, both Cadence and Hazel now adore that song, and will even sing softly along with me sometimes...and I suppose it naturally follows that I now think of Puy, who is also at least partially russian blue (she has that same coloring!) as being their moonshadow.  We've always referred to her as our shadow cat, even before we had kids and the song came into play... I think it's because she's the color of a shadow - which, I can now see and admit, is NOT black. Though Cadence and I even have that same argument dad and I used to have, and of course I'm on the side dad used to be on...but I don't argue too hard, because I have such visceral memories of KNOWING that Ashley was black, and not understanding why dad didn't agree.  Maybe it's something about developing a discerning eye, but I honestly couldn't tell the difference.  Perhaps she can't see it yet, either.   But I digress:

This journey with Puy is certainly not mine to claim as major emotional turmoil (I'm not the one losing a limb without any warning or ability to understand why...) but there have certainly been moments of deep emotional impact.  Some have had more of a comic backdrop - like the time during the weekend before her surgery, when I walked into the kitchen looking for comfort, telling James that I didn't want to take Puy's leg away, at the precise moment that he was disarticulating a chicken leg at the hip and ripping it apart from the body - and some are more just heart-wrenching, like watching my beloved little kitten trying to navigate this strange and horrible thing that is happening to her.  The instance that inspired this post, though, is one that came totally from left field, which is, I guess, how grief tends to getcha.

Last night was the first night that I have sung that particular song since Puy's surgery, and I have to admit it struck me rather hard.  That second verse just suddenly felt so much more...close to home, or something.  

"And if I ever lose my legs, I won't whine, and I won't beg. For if I ever lose my legs, oh if, I won't have to run no more."  

My poor little moonshadowcat...she lost her leg, more literally than I would ever have expected, but she is absolutely picking up and carrying on. 

Good kitty.