A LONGSUFFERING WEEK

By Lisa Huddleston

My husband has gone to a conference, and I’ve had a lot of time to myself this week. That can always be a little risky for one with introspective, depressive tendencies, and that I’ve spent my time being the hospice nurse for my dying cat has added to my melancholy. Honestly, I’ve spent the week thinking a great deal about death and dying. (Doesn’t that sound fun?)

Interestingly and perhaps not coincidentally, I chose this same time to pull out a book a friend had recommended to me (twice) and to begin a serious contemplation of the value of life, the existence of the soul, and The Givenness of Things (essays by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Marilynne Robinson.) Heavy stuff but good and well worth pondering during a week of longsuffering.

Questions have floated back and forth in my thoughts as I’ve watched my cat hang on to his ninth life with tenacious claws. What is it that makes us alive? Is it more than the working of our bodily machines? And what is it that leaves when we die? We all have seen it or rather the effects of its departure—the deflating of the tent, the darkening of the lamp. There is a point in time at which alive becomes dead. A changing of the guard so swift that the ghost is gone without so much as a fare thee well. What is this thing and when will it leave Pippin and me to rest in peace?

While that point of time passes in the blink of an eye, a heartbeat, the getting there can take what feels like forever. Longsuffering is just that. L O N G and S U F F E R I N G. I nobly wrote last week that I was going to gift Pippin by allowing him to pass away at home, but more than once I have considered calling our veterinarian to make an appointment to have him put down. Please, don’t misunderstand, if he were in great pain, I would. But he is just slowly and quietly dying. I am the one who is suffering, and it is I who wants to be relieved of this gift. (Of course, Pip can’t really express his wishes to me, but he seems comfortable enough sitting and shedding on the back porch furniture and squinting into eternity.)

I woke up this morning hoping he was gone. I am ready to remove all traces of cat life and death from my house. I can already uncover the leather sofa my husband has protectively plastered with blankets for years in order to prevent the scratches and tears Pippin and his predecessor, Dusty, were so good at making. Mom, too, has tried to little avail to protect her furniture from the stiff white hairs that weave through any fabric and resist removal as strongly as Pippin himself. I need to remind her that she can clean to her heart’s content. And finally THE LITTER BOX can go! I have hated it for 20 years and even though my uninvited outdoor cats plead to take Pip’s place, it will be gone without remorse ASAP.

But really what I want to get rid of the most is this longsuffering and painful waiting and the useless plastic bubble wrap I have wound around my heart.

Advertisements

REMEMBERING TO GIVE THANKS

Dad and me in 1961.

Dad and me in 1961.

By Lisa Huddleston

It’s been quite sometime since I’ve written–maybe the longest dry period since I started this blog. Much has been and is still going on in my head but much has not yet come together into clear thoughts that can be written down and then shared with others and so I have not made an attempt. It has felt pointless as it’s all been said before and there is nothing new under the sun or the moon or the stars.

But tonight is the night before Thanksgiving–not a good time to start writing as it is late and I am tired and we are expecting Chad, Heather, Nick, and Becky to come through the door any minute now and fill our empty and readied rooms so I may have to abort this half-hearted attempt at a post. But I want to and I need to take a moment to say that I am thankful.

My dad passed away just over a week ago and my head is swimming with muddled mysteries of life and death and afterlife and afterdeath. But I am thankful.

Ferguson is rioting and I am remembering my childhood and Detroit and dad’s being very very late that night and Martin Luther King, Jr. and fires on the news and rough stubble on a cold cheek when he would come in to kiss me good night. But I am thankful.

I am feeling disconnected and lonely and isolated and fearful but I know I have a wonderful blessing in the present in my husband and children and am considering that they chose to be “Team Lisa” during last weekend’s trip to my father’s memorial in Indiana and despite its being even worse than I feared they were with me. And I am thankful.

And since returning from Lafayette I have cleaned and cooked and will cook still more tomorrow and we will eat and talk and eat and remember and eat and forget and celebrate this life here together on Hudfarm. And we will be thankful.

Love and peace and joy and patience and selflessness and remembering and forgetting and blessing in all things be unto you. And may you all be thankful.