March/April, 2022

Dark Night of the Soul: Jenny A Dots February 1, 2009 – April 13, 2022

I have been experiencing what I call my own Dark Night of the Soul.

Last night my sweet little kitty, my dearest cat, Jenny A Dots, died in my arms as I rushed her to the emergency vet to have her euthanized, to finally end the difficult last few months of her life.

Since January I had been keeping nightly vigil with my dearest Jenny, my sweet flat-faced Persian who has had severe asthma. Though she was only 13 years old, she was decompensating terribly. Her tummy and esophagus were constricted. Her breathing difficulties had increased in the last six months so much, we applied a little kitty mask with an inhaler twice daily to make her poorly designed breathing apparatus a bit more usable. This was supplemented with Prednisone and other steroids. Several weeks ago, the vet said, we would have tried everything.

So, each evening, and each morning, I have entered the kitchen, where she insists on sleeping on the warmth of the antique stovetop, wondering if she will still be alive.

This kitchen is where I found my yellow lab, Homer Hanuman Ram Dog, when he was in his final crisis, and where I found Lucky Girl, the Pom-a-Poo, when her final breathing crisis told me it was ‘time.” Mr. Penny S. Worth slept on the stovetop on East 73rd street until Wally and I could handle letting our baby go.

And like my Boots, who was being cornered by a coyote in the front yard, it was Noodle, my greyhound, who “told” me to get out of bed at 11:15 last night to check on Jenny. She was gasping for breath on the floor, and as I quickly picked her up, placed her in a towel, and took off for an emergency vet which should have taken only 15 minutes to reach, I got lost, and Jenny expired in my arms, her eyes looking up at me.
I have put five animals down now. Each time the experience is more beautiful than the previous. And each time I am told, “it is time. Let me go now…”

The sustaining force of having a spiritual teacher through the many years since my powerful awakening in 1989 has guided and fed me; kept me going, and I am stunned at the power of my emotional response to the newest breathing crisis and to my mind in the past few months.
I am worn out. My 10 days in the hospital, then nine days with a private nurse at home on IV infusions of strong antibiotics, trying to clear this insidious infection, well…I’m worn out.

I sometimes feel as if I am barely surviving as I nurse my little kitty, making sure she does not suffer, keeping my head clear to make sure I do nothing for my own comfort, trying to stay strong for my rescued greyhound, my service work, my daughter, who is experiencing one trauma after another, and the 19 clients I see weekly. I am staying strong, very strong. But when do I collapse? When do I show that I am as vulnerable as I am?

I sometimes wonder why I put one foot in front of another day in and day out. Of what use are we to one another in this strange and marvelous and horrible sojourn we call “life?” Certainly, I get to complain – who is there for me as I take care of client after client, patient after patient, day in and day out, suffering the outrageous projections of men and women who blame and curse, blame and curse, then return to praise and idealize, day in and day out, day in and day out? Sometimes I am so tired and ill I do not want to carry on. Sometimes I want to scream: why do I have to be the healer? Why me? What about me? Why me? What about me?
So sometimes I cry and cry and often my head hurts and feels like it will explode, but I notice I still manage to take care of the daily business we call “living.”
St. John of the Cross did not pray for his enlightenment. Christ exploded in his mind when the pain of his imprisonment became unendurable. Julian of Norwich apparently had a slower awakening, the gift of everyday awareness becoming stabilized in Christ-vision and awareness.
Turn the same face to praise and to blame, said my teacher. Learn to cultivate equanimity, that amazing quality of spiritually advanced adepts who manage to treat all life experiences the same.
So, as I attempted to berate myself for being unable to find the vet last night, what I could have done better, ‘you never can find things,” “you’re so hopeless with directions, even with GPS” and I find myself so tired and sad and filled with a huge grief - I see equally how I will work, reach out to my daughter, I will return calls to my clients, perform my daily chores with a decent attitude; and will act better than I feel, always acting better than I feel.
We continue, I think, because something in us does it for us. The dream dreams us. We see our Original Face, and it is so astonishingly beautiful we search out another mirror, then another, then another. We call these mirrors the “other.” And somehow, along the way, as the kindness of the God of our understanding sinks deeper into our brains and bloodstream, many of us are finally struck with the profound realization that we are simply not the doer, we are the done. We are not the thinker; we are the thought. We get out of the way and finally begin to understand that even grief is part of the entire plan. When I lay this tired mind down tonight, I will be with every animal and person I have loved, whether actually “here” or not.

This Dark Night of the Soul….it is painful. It is agonizing. It is exquisite.

This Dark Night of the Soul will pass. Everything passes away. I have no idea where it goes if it goes anywhere at all. And I have no idea what I just said because I have no idea what all that means.

I will miss my Jenny A Dots. My sweet, sweet girl, my wonderful kittycat, my wonderful flop cat, my Sunday morning heart banger. My hot tuna breath in the morning.

And the Dark Night becomes the Light Day, and the Light Day becomes the Dark Night, and the Light Night becomes the Dark Day, and the desire for the day is faithfulness to the night.

Everything passes, and nothing moves. Everything moves and nothing passes. And the desire for another cat will become a tribute to the memory of my beautiful Jenny.

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