Like most people, I would prefer the days to unfold like the colorful pages of a Dr. Seuss book, populated by the playful antics of furry, non-existent creatures and lots of nonsensical rhyming.
OK, maybe that’s just me.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of reality to real life and it’s not always easy or pleasant.
I’ve known Paloma for nearly twenty years and, for most of that time, I’ve known Coltrane. She had found Coltrane in a garbage dumpster, a tiny ball of black fur that someone had left for dead.
Coltrane had found someone who would give her a home.
I’ve stated before that I am a dog person, but when Paloma and I became a couple and, later, when we moved in together, I made an effort to embrace the felines that came with her.
I didn’t understand them.
They wouldn’t curl up and watch sports with me like my dog had. They certainly wouldn’t fetch. I had no idea what was on their minds.
‘trane was, perhaps, the most inscrutable to me. She was calm, contented, and a mystery. Buddhist monks would have envied her zen-like state. Sometimes she would give me a gentle head butt.
Though she was old, she was healthy. She moved at a leisurely pace, but she retained remarkable agility.
Over the past year or so, Paloma would, on occasion, comment that she was trying to emotionally prepare herself for the day when Coltrane’s long life would reach its conclusion. I dreaded the idea because I knew how hard that day would be for her.
Then, about six months or so ago, I was writing one evening. Paloma had gone to bed. Coltrane quietly ambled into the living room. I knew what she wanted and scooped her into my arms.
In the kitchen, I doled a portion of one of her favorites into her dish. As she ate, I filled a tumbler full of cold water from the fridge and took it back to the living room.
Several minutes later, ‘trane climbed onto the coffee table and drank from the glass of water. As I rubbed her head, it struck me that the two of us shared numerous daily rituals including this one.
It was that evening that I realized that somehow, perhaps when I wasn’t thinking about it, Coltrane and I had developed a bond. I also realized that the day that I had dreaded for Paloma was now one that I was dreading for myself as well.
Last Thursday, I arrived home to find Paloma tending to Coltrane. The small animal was struggling in her efforts to do the smallest of tasks, tasks that a day earlier she could do slowly but with little trouble or pain.
The spirit was still there – the abiding sweetness – but her small body was failing her.
On Friday morning, Paloma made the difficult but compassionate decision to let Coltrane go. She did so with no hesitation and knowing that it was the one, final act of kindness she could offer ‘trane.
And though it was hard, and though she’ll be missed, it was a peaceful end to a good, long life.
Mark Knopfler – Going Home (Theme Of The Local Hero)
from Local Hero soundtrack
I considered posting some music by Coltrane’s namesake, but one song kept coming into my head the past few days – the closing song from Dire Straits’ guitarist Mark Knopfler’s soundtrack to the movie Local Hero. Much like ‘trane, the movie is low-key, quirky and sweet with a charm that sneaks up on you and is hard to shake.
As for the song, there’s a touch of sadness, but that quickly gives way to a determined melody and concludes with an anthemic, almost joyous close that leaves you feeling that everything’s going to be alright.