Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Leif & Scamp - Fort Sheridan, Illinois - May 1986 - Age 11
Today I spent a long time talking with my grandson, Marcus, about many things, but mostly about my books, especially "Imagicat." He's going to do a report on me and my writing for school (third grade) and was "interviewing me" for some information. I had sent him photos of our two cats that were the inspiration for Mortimer in "Imagicat," and one of them was this cat above in Leif's arms, Scamp. Scamp was just a small kitten in this photo. Leif picked him out at the pet shop and made sure that he picked the most active, "crazy" kitty he could find.
Scamp was such a terrific cat, intelligent, funny, careful, affectionate; the perfect cat for Leif. He loved that kitty! I've written about him and Scamp before, I think. Scamp only lived four and a half years, dying young of an enlarged heart. He, too, was too young to die but brought so much companionship and joy while he lived.
I've been trying to decide how to acknowledge the first anniversary of Leif's death and the day we found him. We had planned to go to the cemetery then, but we were in St. Petersburg yesterday for an event and it seemed right to go then, when we were already over there because I don't know if I should go out of town and leave my mother just a week after she gets out of the rehabilitation facility after breaking her back.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day, the kind of day Leif would have loved to ride his motorcycle under BOB (Big Orange Ball . . . the sun). The birds were singing. It should have been a joyous day, and it would have been, if he were still alive.
I cried my heart out, as I always do, missing him, wishing he were still alive, wondering for the thousandth or ten thousandth time why this had to be.
I thought of the Serenity Prayer, and wondered if accepting the things I cannot change actually does bring serenity. It sounds good, but I think it doesn't always do that, or perhaps my definition of acceptance is different than Reinhold Niebuhr's. Maybe what he means is acquiescence, and that I don't think I will ever have. I know which things I can change and which I can't, but in this case, that's no help, either.
We so often see that first part of the prayer written or quoted, but not the second part, about "Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace," and surrendering to God's will. I can't accept that. Hardships cannot be the way to peace. Not hardships like this. They don't bring peace. They bring misery, sadness, endless questions. And how could something like this be "God's will." A god like that would be cruel. What kind of loving father, earthly or heavenly, would doom his children to a terrible death . . . my son or anyone else's child, any of us. I don't blame God.
But I do wonder, and will always wonder (knowing that life is unfair) why Leif couldn't have had just a scrap of the luck so many people take for granted, just some lasting happiness as an adult, just some achievement he could be proud of. Why did he have to suffer? Why did he have to die?
It's nearly a year and I don't miss him any less. It's a year, but it feels like so much less.