Sunday, May 5, 2013

Easy Does It

May has become a month of paradox for me. Kicking off the month with my birthday used to mean that I owned the whole 31 days on the calendar, reserved for celebrating me. The upturn in weather, the availability of trees and flowers in bloom accented the special treats that could await for me, brought by friends or happy circumstance.

Then I graduated from college, and the Month of Laura came to a screeching halt. But, the tradition of mom making my favorite dinner and friends gathering to go out for drinks, or join me for cake, marched on for many years.

Over time, mom has stopped making tomato quiche, or ravioli using my grandmother's recipe for sauce. Friends have kids and in-laws and other obligations that keep them from consistently being available to celebrate with me.

And, the month is now the anniversary of Joey's passing. This marks 11 years, and speaking from a calender day standpoint, 2013 mirrors 2002-- so May 19 falls on a Sunday. A date that hallmarks for me a loss so great I for a long time believed it was a burden I would be unable to properly carry.

Sundays with Joey, during the calm and sober parts of our life together, meant watching golf (or football), and him making pizza for my family. It was something we both really enjoyed. Okay, let me rephrase that: I didn't ENJOY watching sports, so I read or cleaned or got caught up on phone calls, occasionally watching the end of a golf tournament. But the pizza making part I did LOVE...watching him cut up vegetables, make the dough and then the pie, and turn all of it into edible art. I was his assistant. Not allowed to do anything material to make the meal but always offering company and acting as the clean up crew.

Then Sundays became the day he died. For a few years, I had difficulty addressing Sunday with a desire to anything other than reflect upon my loss.

With proper grief therapy and personal permission, I was able to heal the raw emotion surrounding his passing. It's a scar, something that is always there. It can flare up and hurt at predictable and unpredictable intervals.

This year, I find myself recalling what I was doing 11 years ago on this Sunday. I went to see Joey for the last time at Father Martin's Ashley. He was released a few days later. And then the final downward spiral began, culminating in his death. No matter how many times I replay those last days with him, it doesn't change the outcome. It has served to help solidify my conviction on some important life tenets. One of them is to enjoy something from each day, because life will change in an instant. And you can never be sure that the change will be for the better.

Cut to 2008, and the arrival of Coco Chanel in my life. Unplanned. Unprepared and unsettled, and recently unemployed at the time I had no idea how I was going to make being a cat owner work. Coco didn't know any of that. All she knew was she was welcomed into a home that didn't involve a cage, a vet's office, or being tossed from place to place. One person to love her. And so each day had new hope embedded in it as I watched her grow, her eyes change from baby blue to yellow/green. Together we blazed a new trail, and Sundays have evolved into our lazy, easy days. Except I suppose when I was marathon training...

Coco, September 11, 2008. She still thinks she is that teeny.

Anyway, a long post for what is called Easy Sunday. I'm glad to have my girls show me that surviving difficult circumstances is something to feel good about. Sure, the scar is ever present. I never want to forget Joey, our journey, all the lessons I've learned along the way. Yet I know his wish for me would be to love these kitties and take good care of them. Take good care of me. Be a faithful friend. A loving daughter and sister, cousin, niece...not be so hard on myself when I make the multitude of mistakes I make each day. To just relax.

So Joey V, I dedicate this Easy Sunday to you. I'll be back to write about you again on your anniversary. Today will be about remembering Pizza Sundays...

Joey, New Year's Eve 2000 at the Migliore's house.


  1. As I read this very private and intimate look into your life, I feel the array of emotions at play in your mind - a tenuous sense of self and happiness emerging, with the forlorn memory of a wound that will never quite heal and I know somehow, that this post was both liberating and painful to write at the same time.

    I did not know about this part of your life – how could I? We just met, yet somehow I feel a deep connection to your story and the intent that our friendship was somehow meant to be. I appreciate you sharing your feelings with us – you have shared an invaluable lesson on appreciating the now of life which is actually easier said than done, but it is a lesson I am trying to learn myself from those around me, as well as from the best teachers of all – our cats.

  2. Deb, I was encouraged in the days immediately following Joey's death to start journaling. I tried. All I could write was "I miss you." I had no ability to capture all that I was thinking, feeling and experiencing.
    Today, 11 years later, I lament that I don't have anything concrete to review so that I can remember the details of the grief and simultaneously watch the emergence of the me that is here today.
    It is liberating and also painful to write about. But, it flows. The suggestion to write about my experience, especially the emotional component, has risen time and again. I finally surrendered and started my blog with little direction. If people read what I write, then great. If they don't, at least I've taken on the cathartic action of piecing together thoughts and emotions and somehow making sense of a senseless situation.

    My first real cat rescue was Manhattan back in February of 2010. She was starved and had been given up as the food for a predator that lurked in her feral colony, so she was injured and within days of dying when Nat & I caught her. I watched her have to give in to human touch, to adjust to captivity in a cage at the vet's office for 2 weeks while she recovered from her life saving, then spay surgeries. I can still remember seeing her for the first time when we found her in peril. She was determined to live. Despite her whole cat colony turning her over, not allowing her to eat so she would become weak. And then I brought her home to live w/Coco and Valentina. She wanted nothing more than to be friends with both of them. To show her deference and her willingness to fit in, she would bow to them--step back. lean down with her head down. Amazing. I realized that Coco and Valentina came to soften and expand my heart and Manhattan to galvanize my desire to survive.
    My cats are far and away the best teachers~my challenge is to tune in to their messages.


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