A scuffle on the porch and Koko, barking furiously in the bedroom, alerted me to danger, which was confirmed when I looked out the window. Two neighborhood dogs were running, each carrying one end of my cat, and a third dog loped alongside, rounding out the pack.
Leaping over the porch railing, I shouted and ran after them, and reluctantly they dropped her in the brush and took off. I climbed down into the valley in front of my house, calling her name, wondering how I would locate her in the dense thicket. She answered with two loud meows that led me to her.
She was face down, and when I tried to move her, she cried out in pain, so I let her be, and instead stroked and soothed her. Two neighbors had arrived, one the owner of one of the dogs, and he said he was sorry and wondered how my cat was and I said not good, which I’m sure he also knew when she raised her head, unnaturally wide-eyed, mouth in a strange grimace.
I sent him away and with stayed with her, because I knew she didn’t have long, and she didn’t, maybe 10 or 15 minutes of going through her death throes, and then she was gone, but still I kept on petting her.
I finally carried her up the hill and began digging her grave, and as I did, I got to thinking, about my neighbors, and their desire to let their dogs run free, and how we all want what we want, myself included, but our actions, our choices, have ramifications, implications for others, that so often we’d prefer to pretend not to think about or see.
And it seemed the only way to avoid that dilemma is to live a life that’s aware and pono, or else make the decision, consciously or otherwise, that we just don’t care, and the latter is so much easier when we don’t know, or like, the other person(s) upon whom our desires are impinging.
Anger ebbed and flowed; I was, but I didn't want to be, causing me to think of how much easier it is to contemplate forgiving the transgressions of those we know, or like, and I wondered how we could learn to extend that same generosity of spirit to the unknown others, and the known and disliked others.
As I dug, grief welling up in me, I thought about the trauma I’d experienced seeing the attack, watching her die, and it made me think about all the soldiers and civilians embroiled in the hell of war, suffering unimaginable traumas, unfathomable grief, and again it is because the so-called “leaders” want what they want, without thinking about, or knowing about, or caring about how it impacts others.
I thought about the cat who was so dog-like that I changed her name from Jet to Poochie, and all the things that had happened in my life during the 13 years she was in it, and how strange it was that not even 24 hours before, I’d picked her up from a friend’s house, where she’d been living the past few years, and now she was gone forever.
As the shovel bit into the soil, through layers of humus in various stages of decomposition, I thought of how digging a grave is an apt metaphor for living a conscious life: clearing the ground, cutting away the surface entanglements, moving through sections of gravel and soft soil, hitting a rock and thinking you can go no further, then slowly working it free, and finally removing it, and from there it’s all loose, easy digging for a while, until you hit another rock, or decide to stop going.
And it seemed to me that in living our lives, we are essentially digging our own graves, and I knew I wanted mine to be deep and clean and wide, in soil enriched and darkened by the processes of death and regeneration, and that’s the kind of grave I dug for Poochie, and laid her in, but not until she’d grown cold, and tucked the soil gently around her and spread the leaves back over the bare, damp soil and covered it with two concrete block peace signs, just to keep her safe.