cleve gray 1918-2004
This picture of Tapo is my photographic version of a painting by Cleve Gray. The picture was not taken with this composition by Gray in mind, not even subliminally, because I didn't see it until today. The composition of the picture of Tapo brought Cleve Gray to mind, so I googled him, clicked on Images and got pages of paintings by him. I find his eye for composition is similar to my own, though far more advanced. I have a book of his paintings that I love to flip through to see his amazing colors he puts in relation to other amazing colors. To my eye, he has mastery with color the way a bluegrass fiddler can be said to have mastery with the fiddle. I tend to like his abstract figures in a space of subtle color shades. If you'd like to see some lovely abstract images, google cleve gray artist and click on Images in upper left.
This picture of Tapo catches her the way she sits, the way she looks at me when she's sitting on the floor or anywhere. Her roundness is visible here too. Tapo and Caterpillar have been in a blue funk the last week or so. It's like they've caught on that TarBaby is not coming back. For about 6 weeks they acted like nothing was different. Lately they've been morose, feeling lonely. They sometimes sleep next to each other now. One can walk up to the other without being hissed at or swatted. They went from apparently intolerant of each other to a closeness that seems to be catching on it's just us. I wondered if they would ever feel sorrow from TarBaby's absence. It has struck them. They act like all three of them acted after Aster the dog died. She was their protector. The outdoors was not safe anymore.
TarBaby has been their protector since Aster. I didn't realize how much. The gap left by TarBaby is bigger than just 1 of 3 missing. The gap feels more like 2 of 3. Both Caterpillar and Tapo liked him. They just didn't like each other. TarBaby's absence leaves a great emptiness in the house. It's at about this time for me that I have come to accept he'll not come walking the door one day. For me, it's an extended sorrow, a period of suspecting, but not knowing, hanging on to hope while knowing better, and finally giving in. TarBaby and I had a mind/spirit connection I don't have with Tapo and Caterpillar. Their minds are not like his. And their minds are not like each other's. They're each one individual as we are, and perhaps more uniquely individual because they don't spend the first portion of life in school learning to conform, to be like everybody, whatever that means. It means don't be different, whatever that means.
Tapo is my baby doll who starts purring the moment my hand touches her. She could spend all day every day on my lap. She likes it when I watch a movie or read. Here she comes. At this moment, she's beside the keyboard on the desk. When she wants attention she puts her nose under my left hand and lifts it off the keyboard. She's cuddly, loves to be held, quiet and stays a long ways from my feet. She has a spot on the bathroom floor she catches sun rays at a certain time of day. If I walk into the bathroom, she jumps and runs to get out of the way of big human feet in motion. It doesn't do any good to tell her I'm not going to step on her. She's gone. Caterpillar is apprehensive about swinging feet too, but I can ease her mind when I see her in the kitchen when I go in there. She'll look for a place to get away from the feet until I speak her name. It tells her I see her, and she's suddenly ok. Not with Tapo. The only time's I've kicked them has been walking through the house in the dark.
Caterpillar likes to go outside now, but not far from the house. Tapo hardly ever goes outside. The random chance of a dog invasion is always present during the day. They've learned that after about 6 in the evening the dogs don't come around. Caterpillar goes out in the evening and the night. Tapo almost never goes outside. I have a feeling that if a dog lived here, she would go outside more. She has her different cushions she spends time on during the day and night. One thing about having cats that stay in the house is I have birds around the house again. I never liked the cats killing birds, but they ate them. If they didn't eat them, I'd have intervened, but following the code, eat what you kill, they do. I've seen Caterpillar sit among the jewelweed when it's full grown in flower, waiting. When a humming bird came along about 3 feet above the ground, she jumped up and snatched it between her paws and ate it. Now she's old and fat. She doesn't have the springy bounce she once had. About all she does now outdoors is keep the snakes from under the house. Cats are good for that. So are dogs.
I'm finding, too, now that TarBaby is gone, I gave Tar the most attention. I almost feel like I'm getting to know Caterpillar for the first time. We'd never communicated like TarBaby and I did. I've found she tries to communicate, but we haven't learned how. I've been paying closer attention to her, and working with her, helping her teach me her meaning. It turns out I've been the one slow to catch on. And she's not quite known how to communicate with me. We've been working on that. Much of the times she's been wanting me to pet her or pick her up, I think she wants out or wants fed. When she turns both down, then I get it. She wants me to hold her. Now I've caught on and I'll pick her up when she wants it. She never wants holding more than once a day. But she needs to purr once a day.
I've questioned a lot lately the nature of loving others and they die. Scripture says to let go of reliance on physical form, advises to see the bigger picture, that the spirit never dies. I'm ok with that. Scripture also recommends loving those around us. Then they die. And it hurts so much more where there is love. I understand that my friends continue as living spirits, but I can't see them. If they're here with me, I don't know it. I miss them. I suppose when it comes to how to balance a compassionate heart with the sorrow of losing a friend, we're on our own to figure it out. I've found that as compassion and love have opened up in my heart, the sorrow of losing friends is way deeper than ever before. I know they've gone to Gloryland and I'm glad for that, but it doesn't help the major gap I feel. At the same time, I don't want not to feel sorrow losing a friend. I even feel like the sorrow is a kind of honoring the years of friendship, evidence that I care. Expression of caring. Time passes and the sorrow gradually eases until it's more or less gone. Then I don't want it to be gone. But it is.
And weeping fast as she had breath
Janet implored us, "Wake her from her sleep!"
And would not be instructed in how deep
Was the forgetful kingdom of death.
---John Crowe Ransom
from Janet Waking