First is always the experience itself …
On Saturday I saw a cat get hit by a car and die. Awful. Horrible.
I was walking home from hanging out with friends. Not really paying attention to anything. And it happened so quickly — and so agonizingly slowly — that I don’t entirely trust myself to get all the details right.
Just the pumpkin-colored cat dashing away and the dark minivan that didn’t stop. The cat on its back in the road bleeding from the neck, arms and legs shuddering.
What seemed like terror and suffering and agony and confusion. Whether mine or the cat’s or both. A couple of minutes. And then it was dead. The sun was shining.
That’s what I know.
That and also that I just completely fell apart.
So we have the facts … or some of them …
There was a cat. There was a minivan. The minivan hit the cat. The cat died. I was bawling.
We were not alone. The minivan didn’t stop. Other cars did stop. A woman came out of her house and crossed the street. She lifted the cat out of the road and laid it under a tree.
A man who had stopped his car came running toward me. He asked me if it was my cat. I shook my head. I couldn’t stop crying.
He asked me if I had been the one who hit the cat. I shook my head. I couldn’t stop crying.
He shook his head.
The woman hugged me and said something about how death is part of life and at least we were there to witness the cat’s life. And I was still crying.
That’s what I remember of what happened.
And then we have the interpretations and the stories …
“I’ve never been this sad.”
“That was the most gorgeous cat I’ve ever seen.”
“What the hell is wrong with you? You witnessed a freaking terrorist attack when you lived in Tel Aviv. Good grief. There were bodies — human beings — spread out on the ground and blood everywhere, right across the street from your work and you didn’t cry then. Stop crying right this second.”
“Ohmygod. They think I killed a cat.”
“Only in Portland would some total stranger give you a hug. I love Portland.”
“Only in Portland would some total stranger say some woo-woo nonsense to make you feel better. I hate Portland.”
“You shouldn’t be so sensitive. It’s a cat. Stuff dies. Get over it.”
“Stupid asshat people with minivans. Cruel evil people and their ridiculous minivans. Gas-guzzling, inefficient ugly minivans. What kind of horrible person would kill a cat and not even stop? Someone with a minivan, that’s who.”
“That cat probably belongs to a family. They probably have a kid. That kid is going to be devastated.”
“It’s weird how these moments come where you’re having this weird deep spiritual understanding that is so powerful and visceral on the one hand and so fleeting and stupid-sounding on the other.”
“Life — LIFE — is a big freaking deal. It’s beautiful and then it’s gone. But if I try to describe this to someone in words, it will sound totally inane and obvious and trite.”
“Oh, it hurts so much. I can’t bear it.”
“You really need to calm down. You’re making a scene. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!”
And then the patterns and criticism… and the noticing of the patterns and the criticism
“I’m noticing that when it happened I really wanted to just turn around and walk away and pretend it never happened.”
“I’m noticing that I feel so much sadness knowing that I couldn’t do anything for this cat.”
“I’m noticing guilt and criticism. The idea that I shouldn’t be upset. Or that I shouldn’t be crying. Or that I shouldn’t be so sensitive.”
“This wanting to change my nature or this being in resistance to what I’m actually feeling is very familiar, but I haven’t felt it in quite a while. Progress, baby.”
“I’m going into judgment and hate with the minivan people because that’s what’s comfortable and easy for me. But isn’t it also possible that I don’t know the whole story? Or: Are there other possible stories that aren’t my story?”
“Pain. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Need. Compassion. This is the progression of my emotional state. I’m just watching it move and shift.”
And then we have the love …
“Oh, sweetie. I’m so so sorry. What do you need right now?”
“Understanding? Comfort? Support? Okay, I can try to give you those things. I can at least ask for those things.”
“You’re allowed to be as sad as you want or need to be. It’s temporary. It’s just what you’re feeling right now, which is fine.”
“You can’t possibly know what this is about or what you’re processing. So if you want to fall apart completely, go for it. It’s okay. You’re entitled. It doesn’t say anything bad about you. Really.”
“Even though you’re feeling a lot of hurt and anger — and feeling frustrated and annoyed that you’re not over it yet — that’s where you are right now. You don’t have to solve it. You don’t have to pull yourself out of it right this second.”
“What would be the most helpful, useful thing for you right now? Because I think you should do that, honey.”
And then we have this post …
Hurting. Loving. Noticing. Processing. Releasing.
I don’t really have anything to add.
Just wanted to share some of the process … thanks for being here.