Blu

Our eldest cat, Blu, passed away August 3rd at around 19 years of age.

It was almost 14 years ago that I spotted her picture online while looking for a cat to adopt. We thought she looked so pretty with her big green eyes, and it wasn’t long before the adoption papers were signed and we were bringing her home. The shelter had named her Blue because she didn’t like being there and had become depressed, but after trying to come up with a name more fitting, we simply decided to drop the “e” and Blue became Blu.

She wasn’t always the easiest cat to love. She had weird litter box habits, and would sometimes pee outside the box if it wasn’t clean enough to suit her. It got so bad at one point that I took her back to the shelter, only to feel guilty and go get her the next day.

She drooled when she purred, didn’t really care for the other two cats we added to the household, and rarely ever wanted to be held. But despite her flaws, she was one of the most beautiful cats I had ever seen.

A few months ago, her health started declining. One side of her face became paralyzed, and she started losing weight. We suspected a stroke, but the vet felt like facial paralysis or a tumor was more likely. We tried everything to get her to eat, but her appetite kept dwindling.

The week before she died, she spent several nights in the hospital getting fluids and medication through an IV. We visited her every day, and although she seemed better initially, it was clear after a couple of days that she wasn’t really improving. We brought her home on a Friday afternoon, and realized we had to do what we had been hoping to avoid.

The vet arrived Saturday afternoon, and after telling her we loved her, we held her one last time as he put her to sleep. It was one of the hardest days of my life.

This beautiful animal came into our lives just after Honey and I met in 2005, so we have known her almost as long as we have known each other. She was a member of our family. We chose her, we loved her, and we will miss her terribly.

Rest in peace, baby girl.

Time’s up

I came upon an auto accident this morning just before arriving at work. An SUV had pulled out at an intersection with a 4-lane, and had been hit by a sedan. Traffic was stopped in the oncoming direction, but I was able to pass. Aside from visible damage to both vehicles, it appeared that the cabs were intact, and I assumed any injuries would be minor.

What I didn’t see was the white sheet covering the body in the middle of the road.

Apparently, neither driver or passenger in the SUV were wearing restraints, and both were thrown from the vehicle. The 60-year-old driver died at the scene, and the passenger has serious injuries. The pilot of the much smaller car had some injuries, but the seat belt obviously saved her life.

When I found out just how bad the accident was, I started feeling very anxious, and I have been thinking of it off and on all day. I wondered what made the driver of the SUV pull into crossing traffic what was traveling almost 70 mph. Was she distracted by a phone? Was she busy talking to her passenger? What were her last words? Did she even have time to think about what has happening before it was all over? As she went about getting ready early this morning, I’ll bet dying was the last thing on her mind. But a few hours later, she is gone forever.

We never know when our time is up. All we can do is try to make the best of what little time we have, and be as kind as we can. It isn’t always easy to live in the moment or to treat others with the respect and attention they deserve, but we owe it to ourselves to be as present as possible.

It could all be over in a second.

Different

Although you were several years my senior
There was an awkward kinship between us
An unspoken acknowledgement
Both swimming against the tide
Of social constructs around masculinity and gender

Once, while being being chastised for having long hair
And being called “effeminate”
I used you as an example
Of a Christian who seemed both gay and femme
I was sternly corrected with
“He’s just different”

Several years later
After I had come to terms with my own sexuality
I ran into you at a local gay bar
We shook hands
Both seemingly relieved that the pretenses
Were no longer necessary

I heard things about you through
The Gospel Grapevine
Religious tongue-waggers
With nothing better to do than
Ridicule those who are different

About your failed attempts at relationships
How you ultimately joined the Catholic faith
And devoted yourself to it
Much like a priest shelters himself inside the Church
To hide from his perverse inclinations
You probably felt you had a sickness
That you needed to protect yourself from

But you should have known that you
Like everyone else
Were fearfully and wonderfully made
And deserving of God’s love and acceptance
Whether or not God’s children ever gave you either

I heard you passed away the other day
And the thing that bothers me so much
The one question that nags at me is
Were you ever truly happy with yourself?

I hope so…

Carolyn

We unexpectedly lost one of our beautiful friends yesterday evening. We first met Carolyn in 2006, and she quickly became a fixture in our lives – frequently accompanying us to movies, restaurants, and even on the occasional road trip.

Some people don’t understand why we enjoy hanging out with elderly people, but if they had spent just a few moments with Carolyn they would have quickly discovered what a delightful person she was.

She was probably the least judgmental person I have ever known. She rarely had an unkind word to say about anyone – but if she did they were most assuredly deserving of it. It was simply her nature to see the good in people.

Carolyn was rarely anxious about the little things that so many of us stress over. She would wave away concerns over her leaking patio roof or who was going to be president, but she always cared enough to ask about the health of my family members or which plants I had purchased on a recent trip to the local nursery.

Carolyn could be extremely humorous without even trying. She is the only person I have ever known who treated a wig like a hat. She would haphazardly throw it on before leaving the house, and then hang it on the hat stand when she arrived at her sister Betty’s for a game of dominoes.

And speaking of dominoes, that was one game she was always happy to play regardless of how badly she felt, and she thoroughly enjoyed rebuking her sister for swapping out pieces when no one was watching.

Riding in the car while Carolyn was driving was its own kind of amusement. I will never forget how she said she liked to drive especially fast around the curve on Buckner because it made her feel “elegant.” When coming up behind a car at a stop light, she would wait until the very last second to slam on the brakes, leaving us passengers screaming like we were at a theme park.

She loved frozen yogurt – especially the Cake Batter flavor.

She read constantly.

She loved plants and gardening.

She was kind, and generous, and loving.

A French poet once said, “A great man is one who leaves others at a loss after he is gone.” Carolyn is gone, and we have certainly experienced a loss, but I also recognize what a blessing it was to have known her and to have been able to call her my friend.

I will miss her terribly.

Fear of the unknown

The truth is, no matter how deep my lack of faith, or how far I swing between agnosticism and atheism, and how much I believe this life is all we get and when we are dead we’re done, there is still something inside me, some stunted Pentecostal version of myself, that worries I will spend a miserable eternity in hell.

Mrs. J 1918-2015

Our dear friend is gone. After receiving the news early this morning, I thought how this is the first time in almost 100 years that the sun has dawned on a new day without her being in the world.

Rest in peace, lovely one. Words can’t express how much we will miss you.

Sunrise at our house this morning.
Sunrise at our house this morning.

Checking in

It is hard to believe cold weather is already here, but our lawn is covered in leaves, and Honey has begun nagging me to put up the Christmas trees. As I watch my various plants and trees enter their dormant phase, I am already looking forward to next spring when they will burst forth with new life. The growing season never seems to last long enough, and this year seemed to fly by in record time.

Like every year, this one has had its highs and lows. I officially became a business partner on January 1st. The legalization of gay marriage in Illinois allowed us to travel to see our friends get hitched in Chicago, and we took that opportunity to continue on to Wisconsin to see our wonderful friend Barb. We saw Cher in Nashville. We spent several relaxing days in Gatlinburg last month.

Some of the low points included losing my coworker and friend, Jerry, and then learning of Barb’s passing a few months later. Both affected me deeply, but I try to focus on the good memories. I will never forget Jerry’s belly laugh, his dirty sense of humor, or the way he never ever let life get him down. I will always remember Barb’s unwavering courage and the way she exuded love to everyone around her. I am so thankful we took the time to go visit Barb this summer, and I feel blessed to have known and loved both of them.

We are currently in the middle of refinancing our home. I can get the interest rate down from 5.25% to 3.375% – which will shave 10 years off my loan while increasing my monthly payment by only $20. My goal is to have our home paid for in 10 years, just in time for my 50th (yikes!) birthday.

Other than that, life continues on as before. I always remind myself to appreciate the mundane moments, because it is hard to complain about being bored when you are comfortable and happy.