A teacher of mine asked the old question “Is the glass half empty or half full?” to groups on a regular basis. Only occasionally would someone volunteer the answer he was looking for, the third un-thought-of possibility. “The glass is completely full, half with water and half with air.” Repeated exposure to this little piece of personal alchemy has helped me to slowly grasp how to rise up from darkness.
While Mosby’s illness manifested suddenly, I have been given time to assimilate things. The glass is not half empty. It is half full with the years we have had together, years he would not have had at all had he been turned in to the shelter. Turn-ins are not given much time in the shelters, if lucky 72 hours. It is half full with getting to know a cat who liked cabbage and bok choy but turned down sushi and could open any door that wasn’t dead bolted. It is half full with the nights he patiently moved so I could change position when my arthritis bothered me and came back to sleep on top of me, a living hot pad on my pain. The glass is half full with the water of the past which we see so easily.
In the last few weeks as he has soldiered on, stubbornly eating his dry food as it became harder to pick up, I fully realized at last what it is to see the air in the glass. While the intellectual concept was imprinted in my brain, a cat with cancer put it’s true fulfillment in my heart. Every day I see patience, endurance, and an ability to live in the moment few humans ever realize. I see humility in a proud and fastidious creature who has reluctantly allowed me to help him wash. I see the importance of each moment spent together, even when we are in separate rooms, for he must have his independence as long as he can. Yes, the air is also an element, but to see it in the stillness, recognizing it as filling the glass, is a true gift indeed.
This is my beautiful and gentle companion, who has entered the abyss with me. He was diagnosed with cancer just two weeks ago but he first got sick three weeks before that. My ignorance may not have doomed him but it has shortened his life. It will be a long time before I forgive myself for not being an aggressive, demanding bitch when they hemmed and hawed and stalled around about his case. This is truly the darkest darkness one can know. Why was I running around doing research to get answers to questions I didn’t even know to ask? Why weren’t my phone calls returned in a timely manner? Useless to ask why, there is no good answer.
I can only console myself with an idea. While meditating I heard a voice say ” Cats have a different sense of time. They live in an eternal present. Do as he does, make the best of the time that is given you. You have already given him five years of future he would not have had.” Afterward I seemed to recall Gandalf the Grey saying much the same about what we do with the time that is given us to Frodo and thought perhaps Mosby the Grey might fight his enemy into darkness and shadow and defeating it, return someday, somewhere as as Gandalf did, to be Mosby the White.
Since I began to delve into the Nigredo in my search for understanding, nothing has gone well. My understanding improves only at very high cost. A very expensive car repair, an accident not of my causing, serious illness in my feline companion accompanied by enormous bills just to get a diagnosis, which was cancer, all came within three months. Then a routine maintenance on the vehicle revealed two new and expensive problems and I have to make serious decisions about my Mosby’s medical care. That, too, will be costly, both financially and emotionally. I swing between the two extremes of anger and depression, surely the realms of darkness, seeking the light of understanding, clarity and the courage not to give in to despair. This is my first attempt to battle out of the writer’s block that accompanied all this and so it will be brief. I will not seek perfection here, only a step in the battle upward.