|Ming and her son, Chicken-Boo|
This past Monday, my son, David, had his first real experience with death. His little cat, Ming, died and he was with her at the end. I could feel his sorrow over the phone. His voice cracked as he went over, in detail, everything that happened. My heart broke for him.
Ming used to be my cat, but when I left my marriage, I left her behind as well. I wanted to take her with me but I thought it would be best for her to remain in the home and the yard that she loved so much. I knew she would be okay without me and would always have the company of her son, a big fat black cat named Chicken-Boo. I couldn't take both cats with me and I couldn't bear to separate them. Ming and Chicken-Boo remained with my ex and he loved and cared for them in my absence. Both cats have been a part of my son's life since he was a little boy. They slept with him in his bed, followed him around the yard, and snuggled beside him on the floor as he watched TV. Chicken-Boo is independent and loves to be out in the yard hunting and exploring. Ming was a sweet, loving, dainty little creature. She thrived on love and affection and many years ago, was instrumental in helping me get over a deep depresssion. She was a gift to me. She simply arrived on my doorstep one day- homeless, starving and pregnant. Caring for Ming and her kittens was the greatest therapy in the world for me at the time. I am eternally grateful to her.
Even though I left her behind, each time I stopped by the house, Ming would come rushing to me, jump into my arms and purr contentedly. In some strange way, I think she understood why I had to leave and why I couldn't take her with me. She loved me regardless. She truly was an amazing cat.
As I patiently listened to my son share the experience of Ming's death, I shed tears of sorrow for her and for him. I will miss her greatly but I am thankful she did not suffer. I am also glad David was with her at the end. He sat with her in her favorite spot on the stairs beneath the skylight as the sun poured in and warmed them. He pet her and spoke lovingly to her as took her last breaths of life. She knew in the end, that she was loved. I am thankful Ming and David shared this experience together.
David sounded so sad as he talked on the phone with me and of course, ever the mommy, I asked him if he was going to be okay. He snorted and said, "Ma, come on! I am a little sad but she was a cat!" I reassured him that it is okay to cry, that it's perfectly acceptable to feel sad, to express his emotions, and to talk about how much he is going to miss her.
"Don't hold back, son, and don't bury your emotions." I said. " I know Ming was just a cat, but she has been part of your life for years and you will miss her. You will see her when she is not there and you need to give yourself permission to feel sad and to cry about it if you need to."
Yes, I know Ming was only a cat, but there is a method to my madness. I am preparing my child for the next great loss......
We are conditioned to believe that crying is a sign of weakness. "Boys Don't Cry." "Big Girls Don't Cry." There are even songs about keeping it together and not crying. Years ago, after shedding many tears over my failing, painful marriage, I made a personal vow to never, ever cry again over a man. I built a wall around myself that was impossible to climb. I would never let anyone close enough to hurt me or make me cry. This was difficult to do, because I happen to be, by nature, a big boo-hooer. In order to protect myself, I remained alone for many years. It took a long time and a lot of therapy to break the stone that encased my heart.
It's okay to cry. Tears are cleansing. Tears come from the heart when it overflows with emotion. Tears are healing. They bind people together like nothing else can. Have you ever had some cry with you? Something magical happens. You are connected for that moment. Sometimes forever after. When there are no words, crying is an expression of love and compassion. It separates us from all the other animals. Only humans have the ability to cry and shed tears.
I happen to think people are beautiful when they cry......
We cry for so many different reasons: pain, loss, heart ache, death, fear, frustration, and even joy. Never deny yourself a good cry. Never discourage another person from crying, no matter how trivial the reason. Crying means our hearts are open, to give and to receive.
Crying is dying to self- a shedding of pride. When we cry we are at our most vulnerable. When we cry, not only do we express how very human we are-- we are an expression of God.
To my son: As you journey through life with all its twists and turns; keep your heart open. I cannot shelter you from pain, death and loss. These things are inevitable. In your life you will experience great joy and great sorrow. Never be afraid, ashamed, or too proud to cry.
To Ming: thank you for being a gentle, loving little creature who brought such joy to our lives. You helped me to heal. You were a wonderful, faithful companion to my son. You will be missed.
And this is my Daily Cyn.....