Tonight is New Year’s Eve, 2011, and instead of noise makers and balloons, champagne and confetti, my heart is hurting in a way that it hasn’t since I was a child.
I have been crying since last night at 9:30pm when I held Mirabelle on my lap for the last time sitting here on my couch in the very spot where we were 24 hours ago. Tonight is the last night of 2011, and I am practicing the art of letting go. Or rather, I am perfecting the art of attachment, taking attachment and the inherent, inevitable suffering that results to a whole new level. Folks, tonight, through the murky wall of my tears, that makes the lights from the Christmas tree look like city street lights through a cab’s rear window on a rainy night, I’m not sure if there are other Buddhists out there as bad as I am. People who profess to practice non-attachment like me and in moments like these, just can’t. I honestly don’t begin to know how to rise above the deep ache in my heart that rises up inside me and wraps around my throat like a boa. I miss her. And I miss her more than I have missed most ex-boyfriends.
Mirabelle means “lovely and wondrous” in Latin, and how can I explain? She was both of those things and so much more. Charles named her, and it’s hard to articulate just how she perfectly she embodied her name. Her presence was like a bell-she spoke and her little cat voice was like the tinkling of a beautiful chime. Her eyes and her voice together were music. Her crazy patchwork coat with one leg that looked like a sweet orange witch’s stocking, and the other, gray half of her harlequin coat with random paintbrush strokes of white and orange, were the outer markings that represented her perfect unpredictability, her joyful demands to play at all times, and her fearless exploration of the world. She scaled 50 foot trees in seconds flat and gave the neighborhood squirrels a run for their money. She refused to come inside until she was good and ready. The charming white on her neck and belly were the one consistent swath of fur on her body, and she loved to have it stroked endlessly. Before Mirabelle, I had never had this exact experience of knowing how my touch inspired the most palpable bliss in another being, and her every movement was a silent communication, an acknowledgment, an appreciation that made me smile and inspired joy. One of her most wonderful talents was flipping her body upside down on the couch, her favorite place to assume every conceivable cat position there was– the poster child for the Kama Sutra of a cat in repose. Her incredible, special beauty. That face. Beyond. Everything about her endeared her to me in the deepest way. She was, she is a Mirabelle, a lovely wonder.
She was abandoned in late July in the middle of a back alley at Charles’ building. A car drove into the middle of the block, and just dumped her out right there. He watched as two small faces, pressed up against the glass of the back window, clearly a family– drive away. He happened to be outside at the time and watched the whole thing happen, incredulous that people would leave an innocent animal like that to fend for itself. Without a moment’s hesitation, he walked up quietly to her, cat whisperer that he is, held out his hand, and she was ours.
Mirabelle is unlike any other being I have ever encountered. She is always alive with brilliant, searching intellect, her eyes wide and sparkling, seeing all and missing nothing. Nothing escapes her. She is at one with every nuance, every subtle scent, every sound that goes undetected by human ears, already somehow ahead of it, and running it down. She speaks, she turns on faucets, she turns on lights, she fetches like a dog. She loves better than most any person I’ve ever met.
And again, I have to write, what a beauty. What a breathtaking, regal little beauty. Captivating. Arresting. Irresistible. And for some reason, some unresolved childhood traumas, some unresolved losses, my body rebelled against this other-worldly, magical little sprite and my histamines waged war, telling my nervous system that she was to be feared … or rather, that loving her was to be feared. I saw a wonderful and talented allergist four times, I took prescription asthma drugs, I went to extreme lengths, suffered terrific frustration from my impeded breathing that collided with my crazy love for her.