A 'Little' Death
By John Mallon
©2005 By John Mallon
"A man's suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the 'size' of human suffering is absolutely relative." (Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, page 64)
I hate death.
I hate everything about it.
I hate grief.
I am convinced that depression and grief are not mere moods but altered states. With depression you can at least hope and pray to get back to normal. With grief normal is shattered and there won't be a new normal until you go through the grieving process. You are, until then, stuck in no man's land.
What got me on this topic?
Well, I recently fell in love. I didn't expect to. In early October my neighbor found a tiny infant kitten on her back patio, barely two weeks old. Her mother had apparently abandoned her. I took in this little baby and began to care for her. I fed her with a bottle and taught her to go to the bathroom by rubbing her butt with a paper towel or kleenex. During this fussy ritual she learned to cooperate, spread her little legs and look at me with the sweetest trust. Then I would play with her. I would lay down on the bed as she crawled around on my chest. Her little determined face was both funny and adorable.
She would walk boldly right up my chest and put her paws on my chin, pull herself up and give me a kiss right on the mouth. Then she would crawl under my neck and burrow her little face down between me and the pillow and go to sleep, while I prayed the rosary. Sometimes she would crawl up and put her tiny face in my ear purring like a little motor and go to sleep.
Yes, I fell in love.
I beamed with pride like the corniest new parent as each day she learned something new, like eating solid food from a saucer (after walking through it), and when I first saw her use the little litter tray I gave her--all by herself.
This tiny helpless creature crawled under my radar and under the barbed wire that surrounds my heart and made a home there. I haven't loved anyone or anything like that in years, more than I can remember.
Then one night she didn't quite look right; she was sleeping more than usual, and I felt something was wrong. I primed her to pee and it was a deep orange, almost reddish and I thought it might be blood. I asked the vet the next day, and he didn't seem too concerned, and she ate after that. The next day, All Saints Day, she wouldn't eat so I let her sleep, and a little later I was alarmed by her appearance and rushed her to the vet.
While they worked on her she died.
When the young woman vet came out to tell me and said the words I felt like someone placed a cattle prod against my head and gave it two quick jolts. They took me back to see her. Her little pink nose was now gray. I picked her up and kissed her and told her I loved her and as the tears began, I turned and left quickly until I broke down in my car, drove home fell on my bed and sobbed. I have cried more tears for that funny little cat than I have for anything in a long time.
Sometimes the little things are the big things.
Something tiny, helpless and innocent who brought big love into my world has gone out of it. I guess if that's not tearworthy nothing is. The poignancy seems to lie in her littleness. Elijah looked for God in the earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake but in the still small voice.
Babies, be they human or animal, teach us about the tenderness of God, something to which we don't pay enough attention. All babies, animal or human, overwhelm us with their cuteness because they need so much love and care; they evoke it from us, draw it out of us. Our instincts to love and protect kick in.
The death of a kitten is not a tragedy, but the fact of death is. God did not make death, the Book of Wisdom tells us. He notes the fall of every sparrow, and keeps all my tears in a flask, so perhaps He wept for my little one too. There are a lot of people I want to see when I arrive in Heaven (please God), but right now I look forward being welcomed by my little friend scampering up and planting one of her furry little kisses on me before reclaiming her spot between my collar and my neck for a nap.
John Mallon is Contributing Editor of Inside the Vatican magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
http://www.catholic.org/featured/reality_check.php OK, US
John Mallon - Columnist, 661 869-1000
death of a pet, God, grief
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Pope Francis calls for end of life care to acknowledge mortality
- Daily Reading for Monday, November 20th, 2017 HD Video
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, November 21st, 2017 HD Video
- Has Pope Francis violated the 8th Commandment, speaking out against ...
- Daily Readings for Saturday, November 18, 2017
- The FBI may investigate Planned Parenthood
- St. Rose Philippine Duchesne: Saint of the Day for Saturday, November ...
- The Catholic Miracle. Become part of our incredible mission HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, November 19th, 2017 HD
- Did Pope Francis blast 'perverse attitude' of climate change deniers? HD
- Scientists warn: The end of life as we know it is near HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way