The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Fog, an American Haiku by
Carl Sandburg, 1916
I remember this poem from long ago (high school? a past life?) – it has come back to me in recent weeks. As I sit here in my living room watching the fog roll in, my kitty Zelda is by my side.
Zelda is dying. We’ve known this for awhile, but she’s had no symptoms until now. All of a sudden she’s become frail, stopped eating solid food, and yet she has made it quite clear that she’s not ready to go just yet.
I have written songs about fog and a (previous) dying cat, and they are swirling in my head. I’ve been here before and I know what’s coming. But this time I’ve been given an unexpected gift: six months of kindness.
Before Zelda’s diagnosis, I had a pattern of waking up in the middle of the night while Zelda terrorized me with those damned cat feet – incessantly scraping along the floor, the door, the wall, the bed. She wanted my attention, and I responded with yelling, fist-pounding the mattress, chucking her off the bed. Who knew a yoga teacher and love-song singer could spew so much anger?
When the doc said she probably had six months left, I immediately let the anger go. When she scraped, I just let her do it. When she curled up next to my head, I let her stay without one ounce of irritation. And you know what? Everything shifted. She abandoned her scraping routine, and we became cuddly friends. We’ve both relaxed a lot.
I’ve been thinking about this lesson: what if I looked at every being around me as having a six-months-to-live sentence? Can I please have presence and kindness be my fallback instead of anger? Can I let it go? For their sake and mine?
I’m pretty sure I knew this already. After all, it’s in the lyrics of my song, Fog. I recognize the power of releasing anger, even when it means being vulnerable with yourself and others.
That’s the theme I shared onstage at The Moth six months ago: “The Evil Hippie Diva Had No Manners.” I got the audio of my story and am ready to share it with you now, warts and all:
Want more audio? I’ll be live on Local Love Radio tonight!