Saturday, January 20, 2024

Synchrony. Serendipity. Shimmer. Sahara.

Photo in memory of Shimmer the cat

Same day, thirteen years ago,

we brought them home together from the

ASPCA shelter on 92nd, our two marvelous

cats. Shimmer, age 2, pulled his

twenty pound frame and twisted

rear leg from a tiny cage and charmed and

cajoled himself onto my wife’s lap,

the master survivalist.

Sahara,

barely a year, a black and white tuxedo

with a black stocking on each

leg, “coco (chanel) bunny” for short,

did the same, jumped into my lap as I

squatted next to her and into my heart.

When they started showing their age and

Infirmities a year ago, we promised them

and ourselves that we would allow them to

tell us when it was time to go, when to put them on

what the sentimentalists among whom I number call

the rainbow bridge.

They taught us, this past year,

how tenaciously creatures who are loved equally

tenaciously cling to life until their bodies give out

and their spirits evanesce.

 

Anyone who has been to our home will remember

them, Shimmer who loved people and was adept

at courting and connecting and putting those he

met instantly at ease … we termed him our “therapy

cat” … and Sahara who evoked on her appearance a

chorus of ‘isn’t she so pretty.” Those of you who read The

Almanack might have seen fotos of Shimmer ambling

among the lupines in his fern forest — I always referenced

him in my nature poems — spotting the first robins nest of

Spring in our eaves; beside me as we bade adieu to the last

fledgling leaving our lakeside or to the family of Canadas

preparing to fly south as the lake iced over.

Photo in memory of Sahara the cat

He never expressed anger or upset in his final days,

summoning energy to play patty cake with a blue jay

teasing him outside our rear window.

Nor did our very private Sahara, who in her last year

found her voice and chirped away at us whenever

we drew near, summoning forth from us with her

big dark eyes hugs and caresses, exchanging

with me Eskimo nose kisses, snuggling closely,

on her very last night, with my wife, love and

reassurance.

They trusted us until their very end.

 

We searched and found an emergency service

in Lake Placid, where the cats and we were met

with compassion and kindness. Both sniffed around

the little room where we waited and then were each

lifted to a small table and sedated. Once both were

fully calm and barely conscious,

the fatal injections were administered,

first to Sahara, then Shimmer.

When his heart stopped, after giving off two large

final beats, the vet pronounced him gone, telling

Shimmer “Now go and play with your sister.”

 

Which broke our hearts and provokes me to tears

as I write these lines.

 

We had a private home commemoration – their

ashes and fotos surrounded by candles and flowers

and the recitation of two poems from my wife that captured

their very essences and the poem you will just have read.

Come Spring their ashes in engraved wooden boxes will be

buried side-by-side in our garden filled with bee’s balm,

Echinacea and holly hocks directly in front of a large stone

placed there this past Spring for this very purpose.

 

We will see this remembrance of them every day and

their spirits will be with us.

 

This poem has been written to commemorate our two beloved cats, Shimmer, 15, who has been mentioned in several of my Almanack-published poems, and Sahara, 14, who passed together across the proverbial Rainbow Bridge on December 30, 2023. They lived in our home for thirteen years.

“Now Go and Play With Your Sister”

Photos provided by Jack Carney.

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Jack Carney is a clinical social worker who retired after fifty years of practice, nearly forty of which spent working in the public mental health system. He received his MSW from UCLA in 1969 and his DSW from CUNY in 1991. He is also a trained family therapist, trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and has devoted a good part of his professional life to teaching and training mental health professionals, to developing and implementing innovative treatment approaches and programs, and to conducting clinical practice research. He retired in 2010 from a large New York social welfare agency. He now lives with his wife and their two cats in the Adirondacks of northern NY State, where he spends much of his time writing provocative tracts and working as a community and healthcare advocate, heavily involved in the Campaign for NY Health and the enactment of single payer healthcare on a statewide – the NY Health Act – and national – Medicare for All – basis. He is the author of a book of essays – Nation of Killers: Guns, Violence, White Supremacy – The American Dream Become Delusion, published in 2015 and available via Amazon. He has also published over 40 blog posts on Mad In America and Op-Ed News, all concerned with the political deterioration of the American state and its institutions and the measures that ordinary Americans can take to oppose an oppressive corporatist ruling class that is squeezing the life and vibrancy out of us. A nearly complete listing of all his writings – a work in progress – can be found on his website, www.paddling upstream.org.


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3 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Very beautifully expressed, and I’d say more but I seem to have something in my eye …

  2. Raymond Roch-Jean Saint-Pierre says:

    My sincerest condolences for you and your family’s loss and my deepest gratitude for the obvious care and empathetic connection your family shared with Sahara and Shimmer throughout their lives!
    It takes a special type of empathy to adopt or rescue any animal, but especially those that are much less desirable by our current social culture. I’ve actually had an arrangement with Elmore SPCA over the past few decades to only consider those “unadoptable” and usually geriatric felines partly because I didn’t want any of them to outlive me!
    I’ve been through the adoption of a cat whose severe separation anxiety after 10+ years with their original caretaker was quite literally fatal after they were placed into a nursing home that didn’t allow pets. Simba was completely inconsolable and within a few months was also gone.
    I’ve also never separated any bonded felines which has left me in my current situation with 3 (Was almost 4!) Torbies who were originally just being fostered! But then shelters were all closed the day before their return date due to COVID-19 and days turned into weeks, months, years; adopted!!
    I now have 5 all over or near 15 years old and I think these will be the final troop at this stage of my life.
    Again, my sympathy and gratitude for sharing and caring for these sentient comrades in life!

  3. Jack Carney says:

    My sincerest thanks for your kind words of consolation and camaraderie. We’ll be rescuing again, I’m sure, but continue too caught up in our profound sorrow.
    Again, your understanding is touchingvand very much appreciated. Best wishes to you and your feline family.
    Jack Carney

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