It's been a rough month. Ming slept all day on the verandah seats, curled or crouched on the old folded sheet I'd arranged as a nest for him; something more comfortable than the vinyl upholstery. He kept half-standing, turning slowly and settling down, constantly searching for a better position. I put a bowl of biscuits and another of water near him; he ate a few biscuits and lapped a little water then curled up again.
I sat next to him several times during the day when the sun broke through. I sipped tea and tried to understand what it meant to sit next to Ming during what might be the last hours of his life, what it would mean to sit there in the days that followed, looking at the world, the lambs lying on green grass, white clouds in a blue sky, plum blossoms profuse on the tree next to the dog kennels, tui fighting in the poplars, a korimako calling from the Grevillea next door — looking at the world and knowing Ming was no longer part of it. Yeah, sure, he'll still be here, re-entering it in a different form, as diffuse processes, as memory — but all that wise, enlightened bullshit can't compensate for his actual absence, the joy of hearing rustling in the kitchen and finding him with his head shoved in the rubbish, trying to hook out some morsel; can't compensate for the yowls of protest when I took his dead rat from him (in case it had a sublethal dose of poison); can't compensate for his selective deafness when told off. We know the world mostly through our senses — even our ability to imagine arises from what we've learned from our senses — and the loss of something, or someone, we can see and hear and touch is bearable only insofar as we can rationalise the loss. For those we love, this seems impossible. I have no idea how we manage it.
I sit next to him in the Spring sun, sipping tea and gazing out over the paddock, sensing his slow breathing. A kahu circles, calling. It's been a rough month, and it's a long way from over. Every time I blink the world seems to go slightly blurry.
Update (12 September 2010): Ming has not been seen since early last week. The conclusion is inevitable.