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Looking out my Backdoor: It's a lot like life


January 4, 2018

I had to decide. She’d had a reaction to the anesthetic which left symptoms similar to epilepsy. Convulsions. Starvation. A rack of bones loosely held in rags of fur. Put her down. A euphemism by any other name … death.

My tears soaked her fur. I held her last breath. My Cat Ballou, playful, teasing, gentle sweet kitten-cat.

That night I lay in bed, holding memory, accusations rattling around my brain cage, familiar. Why does everyone, everything I love, leave me? What is wrong with me? Is this my karma? Is there no end? Beating myself. Grieving.

Finally I heard my wild monkey-mind, the guilt/shame false accusations. If I let it, that silly mind could take responsibility for the Peloponnesian War. Think about it. If I can take responsibility for war, I can avoid responsibility for harsh words spoken in haste.

Stop it! My good-sense mind finally woke up and took control. I drew on everything I knew, prayer, mantras, meditation. Finally I simply focused on following my breath, in, out. As clearly as if they were spoken, I heard the words, You ask the wrong questions. (I do NOT hear voices.)

Why not ask, Why have I been given this kitten gift of pure love and fun for four whole months? Oh, the patterns of the past have a strong grip. I was glad to break that pattern, to drift into sleep with a few more tears.

So this last week has been hard times for me. I spent hours every day in my garden, watering flowers, giving attention to every single plant in my extensive garden, doing what brings me solace. Friends come by bringing comfort and bananas. I accepted their fussing over me.

In our way of marking time, we left an old year behind and turned our faces into the new year ahead.

Here on the Rancho we gathered at Julie’s house for shrimp pozole. Julie made the soup and the rest of us brought pot luck. Good food, peaceful ambiance, stimulating conversation. Home by 10. Few of us, if any, stayed up to watch the clock turn around the day.

If there were a lot of fireworks, I slept through the bangs and crackles. I’m used to hearing fireworks daily, for our people use fireworks to celebrate every occasion, births, deaths, anniversaries, stubbed toes. Fireworks are part of the background noise, like my wind chime at the corner of my house and the trucks along the highway a couple blocks south.

The sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day. My first amaryllis burst into blossom. In my ballpark, it’s a tie ballgame.


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com. Email [email protected]


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