Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Way

Mondo the cat was taken by a coyote yesterday. The details don’t matter so much, and the gnashing of teeth over what might have been done to prevent it have given way to the finality of loss. 

Mondo walked over our sleeping bodies like climbers trace the ridges of mountains. He lay next to me at five in the morning and touched my lips with his paws telling me to wake up. He watched nature shows with me, often more attentive than I to animal action.  He was, to me, my family, and neighbors, a loving eccentric who bounded across the yard just for the fun of it.

And he was a hunter of lizards, packrats, and birds. He brought them all inside so we could share the spoils of the hunt -- not something I appreciated, especially the packrats. He was also part of the desert food chain and territoriality. At least once a bobcat followed him up to the back door of our house. There was a great horned owl that roosted in the giant mesquite of our backyard who waited for his chance. Coyotes patrolled the front yard, eyes on the porch.  Javelina bristled when Mondo got too close, curious, and personal. 

 Mondo lived a full, happy,  predatory life. He fell prey to the cycle. 

His absence leaves a hole in our family. Sad. Very sad. He leaves behind his sweet sister, Simone. 

As with all creatures who lived fully, his example is one that teaches me to enter the grief, to open to the sadness, to breathe and remember the pain of loss that accompanies life in the this world. I think of the wounded civilians in Syria, desperate mothers of sick children, the homeless men and women in Tucson. Pain is no stranger to many in this life.

It is what I do with that pain that does Mondo justice. He was part of the cycle. His time came, just as mine will come. It is his unbridled love of life, his love of us, that remains. Now it is my work to open, to open, again and again, to notice this lovely desert day, to embrace friends and those I love. Rejoice.

I have known three great teachers in this life: one, a yellow dog, and two cats— one tabby, the other a black long hair named Mondo, for the size of his heart. All left me broken when they passed, but left a legacy of joy.

As a holiday song goes, “It is because of the dark that we see the beauty of the spark.” Now that’s a Christmas thought worth celebrating.