Sunday, January 08, 2012

Life, Death & the Holidays

Sorry the blog has been dark for a while, it's been a busy and emotional month.
On the 11th of December, Conan's "Great Marjorie" passed away at the age of 92. It wasn't a surprise, exactly: we knew her health was declining and she had started hospice care. But we all thought there was more time. I suppose that's a common phenomena, that the end comes more quickly than we expect. The picture above was taken just a few days prior to her passing; Conan was excited to show Great Marjorie his new balance bike, which was an early birthday gift. They had a great relationship, for which I am really grateful. Conan saw her nearly every Wednesday, and they shared a love of reading, a fascination with cats, and neither of them ever missed a chance for desert.
In addition to Marjorie's death, we also had to put down one of our cats. To most people, Marcellus was a big mean scary cat, but he had his loveable side too. He came to us as a few years back for a temporary stay while Cynthia (who had raised him from a kitten) finished graduate school. He had a serious weight problem and an eating disorder, but it quickly became clear that living with us really improved his health. We got an automatic catfood dispensor which helped prevent him from overeating, and he got a lot more excercise wandering our property than he had gotten as an indoor cat. He dropped from 24 lbs to 18 lbs, and really seemed to enjoy life with us.

Cary really bonded with Marcellus, and when Cynthia graduated and returned to Olympia we officially adopted Marcellus. This past year, however, his quality of life begin to deteriorate. He appeared to be in pain when he walked, and he was grouchier and meaner than usual. Conan was afraid of him. He took his last trip to the vet the day after Christmas, and is now buried in the yard near a spectaularly thorny shrub called a Poncirus Trifolata. It seemed a fitting marker for him.
Marjorie's memorial service was this past Saturday. Conan doesn't understand memorial services any more than he understands death. He misses both Marcellus and his Great Grandma, and has told me more than once that he wants them back. I told him that the memorial was "a party where everyone remembers Great Marjorie" and he asked me if she would be there. I had no answer for him. He still looks for Great Marjorie in her bedroom when we visit his grandparents house.

The memorial was held at the SGI Buddhist Activity Center in Bellingham. Marjorie wasn't a Buddhist (she told the hospice spiritual councillor that music was her religion) but Dave and Anita are active SGI Buddhists. The service was simple and lovely. There were many special rememberances of Marojorie, some chanting, and a ceremonial offering of incence for her spirit. Afterwards, Conan was very interested in a framed picture of Marjorie as a young woman, which was sitting in a place of honor on a small table next to a vase holding three yellow tulips. Worried that he would spill the flowers, I picked up the vase and held it for him, thinking he wanted to smell them. Instead, he gently kissed each blossom. It was a sweet and special moment, a perfect goodbye.
Despite (or perhaps because of) our losses we had a wonderful Christmas celebrated with both sides of the family, and a fun New Year's holiday with many great friends. We really have a lot to be grateful for in this life, no matter how short it may be. :)

1 comment:

Kriss said...

So sorry for your loss...hugs!!!