Navigating Loss

Fair warning - its a long one! Lots of openly communicating over here. It's what feels good right now.

The first few months of 2015 has held some wonderful things but also some very difficult times. First, we lost one of my mother's oldest friends to an aggressive form of brain cancer. My Aunt Krys was diagnosed and within 3 months was gone. True to form she fought hard, but it was not enough. Believe me, if strength and positive energy were enough she would still be here. My heart continues to ache for the loss I know my mother feels. Every now and then I find myself crying, thinking how she won't be at my wedding, how I won't learn any more lessons from her. Loss is a strange thing to navigate.

Listening to the radio the other day, I heard an interview with poet Jane Hirshfield. She recited and then spoke about her poem "Two Linen Handkerchiefs" ...

Two Linen Handkerchiefs

How can you have been dead twelve years

and these still

"The poem is broken off in exactly the way a life is broken off, in exactly the way grief breaks off, takes us beyond any possible capacity for words to speak. And yet it also, short as it is, holds all of our bewilderment in the face of death. How is it that these inanimate handkerchiefs — which did belong to my father and are still in a drawer of mine, and which I did accidentally come across — how can they still be so pristinely ironed and clean and existent when the person who chose them and used them and wore them is gone?" - Jane Hirshfield, speaking on NPR.

It resonated with me as being so accurate, so relatable and universal. I think most often we are left bewildered in the face of death. Loss is something everyone experiences, but I think that each time we are faced with loss we are forced to navigate that loss in a way that is new and as unique as the person or dream we have lost. We are forced to find our way through and forward. As I get older I am learning this lesson more and more.

In January we learned that our little lady had cancer. Pouncer has been my cat since my seventh birthday. She is nearly 17 years old. Since the beginning she never bought into the whole diva cat personality that many display. I remember being a young girl, roaming from room to room in my home; Pouncer was always at my heels following. She's been my constant companion. Wherever I am, she is almost always right there with me. She has always preferred to be around people and makes fast friends with anyone who crosses our doorstep. I could not count the times she has brought Trevor and I to tears over her antics (happy laughing tears of course). For instance, her insistence on sitting in Trevor's lap, despite whatever he may have been doing. Each time I come home, she greets me at the door with quite audible meows (no doubt telling me all about her day), and this makes my heart so happy. 

Trevor and I have taken to calling her our little lady in the recent years. The past few months I've been trying to spend as much time with her as possible. Making the decision not to put her through surgery was incredibly hard. After hearing what the vet had to say and doing some research, it simply did not feel like the right choice. Being an older cat, surgery is more risky and recovery is more stressful. Statistics suggested that even with surgery, the cancer would be likely to reappear somewhere else within 6 months. As her mom I want to do anything and everything to have her happy and healthy. But realistically, it didn't feel right to put her through a major surgery and tough recovery only to have her sick again so soon. She has had a long and great life, she's been loved very deeply. Every day I have to remind myself why this was and continues to be the right path for her and us. Now it is about quality of life. As her person, I'll make the impossibly hard choice to let her go when it is her time. I'm hoping we still have some weeks together, but I'm scared. I'm scared all the time about loosing her. I'm sure it sounds silly to some people but she is so cherished by me. I love the way the top her her head smells and I love listening to her little breaths while she's sleeping. She has been such a wonderful part of my life and saying goodbye will be unbelievably hard.

This is a bittersweet reason I love photography. Preservation. At weddings I always make a special effort to photograph the elderly guests as well as the children. The little ones will grow and change so quickly, and we never know how much time we'll have left with our older loved ones. So I continue to photograph my babygirl. I already cherish the sweet images of her and I know someday soon they'll mean even more.