Reality is neither obedient nor thoughtful.
Still, it can be kind.
We wanted to believe we’d suffered 2017’s last loss. The Sob-O-Meter was running over its rim, and there was simply no room for another gut-punch “goodbye” in this calendar year.
But then, a fresh-driven New Year, all lit by a sweet supermoon, is no time for parting, either. New Year’s Day ought to be entirely reserved for life, hope, dreams undimmed by death.
Reality, though: neither obedient nor thoughtful, far less mindful of the calendar.
And so it was that Sam, the Einstein-haired wildman of the Lounge, lay down his last sword on New Year’s Eve Eve Eve. Mimi, the globe-eyed bohemian of the Lobby, greeted 2018 only to bid it immediate adieu.
Neither goodbye was “surprising” on the surface. I suppose they never are. We are time-bound, body-bound creatures, and Sam and Mimi had both been blessed with abundant time and resilient bodies.
“Resilient” doesn’t do Sam justice, really. From the hour he arrived at Tabby’s Place in March of 2012, Sam was fighting demons, by which I mean skin allergies so severe we worried he might be allergic to reality. (He would not be alone in that.)
Through painstaking years of treatments and diets and hoodoo of all varieties, we — by whom I mean our outrageously talented, tenacious vet team — got Sam’s skin under control. And then out of control. And then under control again. The skin beneath that shaggy ruff was never fully obedient either.
Nor was Sam. Still, he was a wonder.
Throughout his medical ministrations, all of which caused him to howl and headbang and thrash about like
an eel a teensy leetle girl, Sam was so much sunshine to the square inch. In his Suite A days, between chin scrubs and antibiotic dosings, he’d delightedly drive all the cats out of the solarium, then strut about like a conquering king. Lord have mercy on the cat who dared to dart through the tube; Sam’s wrath was swift and certain.
And kind of hilarious. It wasn’t for nothing that Sam became a staff favorite, volunteer favorite, life-favorite of all who met him and mooshed him and sat beneath his shoulder-sitting, hair-rubbing righteousness.
Moved to the Lounge when cancer struck, Sam made the most of his rocked reality. Cutting-edge treatment made him the poster boy for the 2017 Linda Fund, but nothing short of the finger of God — and the otherworldly love of volunteers and staff — could explain his survival time. We lost track of the times we counted Sam out, only for him to spring back up like those old Fred Flinstone punching dolls, revived to full life by a few visits to the solarium or a few lavish lovefests with a favorite soul.
So you can’t blame us — can you? — for taking it for granted that Sam would always recover. And then, one day in the fading hours of 2017, he didn’t.
The decision was clear and kind. It was time to let Sam go. And so, surrounded by so many of the souls who’d mooshed and marveled at him for so long, Sam set forth for a New Year in a new world.
New Year’s is a noble time for new beginnings, not endings. But as Semisonic and Seneca told us, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. We never wanted to begin a day in a Lobby without Mimi, but so it would be, all too soon.
Like Sam, Mimi was grey, grizzled and altogether glorious. Like Sam, Mimi had defied the standard timeline, tossing shade and snark at her kidney disease and rhinitis and assorted atrocious ailments. Like Sam, Mimi was loved to the uttermost, and utterly more than that.
Case in point: Mimi was never without a doting man- or woman-servant scrambling near with fresh-smushed fish mush. And if she was, she’d holler for help until it arrived, tout de suite. Should her wet food dish ever go empty, Mimi had a patented look of disbelief that she’d flash in all directions. Sacre bleu! J’ai faim!
Little and lithe despite her daily caloric intake of approximately 45,000 kcal, Mimi didn’t have time to stay in one place for long. She’d honor your lap with her arrival, but briefly, on her way to missions known only to Mimi. Visitors commented on her beauty, her big-boggled eyes, her sprightly senior step. Everyone loved her.
Unlike Sam, Mimi only lived at Tabby’s Place a short time (by Tabby’s Place standards, anyway), arriving in October 2016 and departing in newborn January 2018. So how was it that the Lobby changed its shape around her, becoming saturated with Mimi-sweetness and Mimi-sass so permanently?
Reality can be kind. And so reality leaves us with gifts that death can never steal.
Respiratory distress was Mimi’s last taste of suffering, ever. Where she’s gone, we can’t yet follow, but we can be sure that the bowls are never empty, the fish mush never late, the laps never cold. And we can be sure that deathless reality is kind, always.
Today, I’m sure of this: love is stronger than death, and love is life’s true reality. Sam and Mimi, we will meet again in the year beyond years. Vaya con dios.