Friday, September 4, 2015

The Final Moments with Kyle

The heaviness of the day was further emphasized by the thick grey ceiling of clouds that snuffed out any ray of sunlight that would lift the sadness in our hearts as we prepared to say our last good bye to our cat, Kyle. Our two cats were our binding pillars that held us together like a family, attached to every movement and utterance a family cat is likely to make, we would talk endlessly of what he and his sister, Keyla, were up to. Ironically, the more weight he loss because of illness, the younger he looked, until he almost reverted to being a kitten in appearance. Now what is holding us together is the impending sense of loss that will finally and forever wash over us as we ring the death knell that will lay him to rest. The entire process of deciding his fate has weighed like Solomon's judgement on us...the power of life and death. We now move forward in the direction of removing him from life's misery and carrying him to the point of finality at his equally saddened vet's office.

Not wanting to believe he is going to be gone forever we hold on to each second, watching each breath hoping for a familiar whimper, a reassuring gesture, a helpless meow. As he lay limply in my arms, we deliver him to his vet who tries to calm our fears with a soft and encouraging explanation of what we can expect in this process. It seems so benign for all it's deadly results. We try to recall moments in his life with one another, that will stay in our hearts, but the sting of tears makes it impossible to complete the sentiment. With nothing left to say, we turn him over to the vet who administers the succession of shots that renders his virtually lifeless body to a body without any life in moments.

Once the lifeless body of Kyle was placed into a biodegradable box, sealed with tape the emotions slowed to a trickle, the flood of tears receded and finality sets in. There is nothing left to do or say and no one left to say it to. Though relief replaced the heavy weight of sadness, a shroud of disbelief now blocked the sun that now fill the skies.

Photo by Joe Steele

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Time is your perception

Time waits for no one and no marches on whether we are aware of it or not...but does it move at the same speed for everyone and everything? For each of us time moves at different rates depending on our perception of it. For instance, a watched pot never boils, as the saying goes, but that same pot will burn the moment you take your mind off of it. Time is a construct that we measure in a systematic way that seems to mark its passing in a regular and consistent increments, but that construct bends one way or the other based on our perception of it. Watching a clock has a different impact from watching the sun cross the sky...each recording time in disparate ways.

That awareness is key to how we enjoy the lives of those around us and whether we devote time to them so they are truly long term relationships. Many people that we have known for the same amount of time have different impacts on us based on how much actual time we spend with them. Not to say you have to devote actual face time, but certainly conscious time thinking of them and yes communicating with them. Oftentimes we think we have the "luxury" of waiting until a more opportune time, only to realize either the depth of our friendship has thinned or disappeared altogether. Time will not wait until it is opportune for you and neither will your friends.

Social media has increased our connection to a multitude of friends but it hasn't increased the depth of those friendships. The assent of "Liking"friends posts is not the same as speaking on the phone or better yet having lunch with someone you care about. The pursuit of brevity in our communications is literally a shortsighted concept that seemingly deflect friendship rather than attach them to us in a meaningful way. The back and forth banter of a telephone call is a missing commodity today that we can remedy with a simple call.

We are now spending conscious time with our pet cat Kyle, who for almost a dozen years has been a constant source of pleasure to us but now is at an end of life stage in our relationship. Now we spend every waking moment in his presence, absorbing and sharing our love, capturing every inkling of his beautiful spirit before time slips away, as we perceive it, too quickly.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Lightness of Love and Support

As I approached the gallery, people were already inside and out awaiting my arrival greeting me with hugs and kisses. Looking through the windows I saw the interior filled with light and color and my works displayed for the first time. They danced on the walls like musical notes, each piece flowing into the other like a choral group intoning songs of happiness. Zita Cousens had used her magical touch to array them beautifully once again. The opening night at Cousen Rose Gallery held the lightness of a birthday celebration where the giddiness of friends and loved ones lifted me. The overwhelming crowd gathered early and stayed late taking in both the work and one another, as old friends and new acquaintances. The astonishment in the eyes and quick questions of discovery were a joyful experience for me. Newness was in the air. Viewers, who were seeing my work for the first time that night, stepped in at a point in the arc of my creative expression, and long-time supporters expressed joy in seeing a new me on canvas. In prior years I may have been filled with nerves and apprehension, but this time I was free of them and happy to share a new birth in my work, and a renewed relationship with those who have been supporters for so many years. The ebullient smiles, hugs and cheers were a symphonic chorus of approbation; and the guests, as colorful as the works themselves, became extended canvases. Many old friends were hugged and many new ones met. Joe Steele held court as friends from all over came to support us on that special night. The success of any venture, whether it's a union, move, job, rearing children or an opening, depends on the support of friends and colleagues who assist you directly or indirectly in shaping those goals and implementing them. Many of those same folks were there that night doing what they do best...supporting a loved one. Photos by Jelani Bandele and Joe Steele