the final stages of inevitability: kittylumbia’s last moments on earth

i woke up today, feeling extremely heavy; this weight of doubt, guilt, acceptance have all combined. i sprung right up, wondering if i’m doing the right thing. i sat up wondering if she is okay with all of this- how much pain is she in? i look over and see her, and a wave of sadness takes over. the muppet song ‘saying goodbye’ plays repeatedly in my head, and i begin to cry.

right before the alarm goes off i have a dream. i was in what appeared to be a basement/laundry room environment, with ants running near me, performing their colony duties. they were moving back and forth near a tree (which was the connection between the room and the outside). suddenly i see a drop of what is clearly cat poop by my feet. it looked like it came from a kitten though. before i could look down again, the ants have pulled it away, over by this tree. i look over to the tree, and there are very tiny kittens and cats, resting. they were all the same tiny size (of a cat paw), no matter their age. the mama cats were protecting the kittens, who were in a state of rest. one of the kittens was getting ready to fall into the ‘present’ the ants brought over, and i lightly screamed, ‘NO!’, when the mother ran to move the kittens. the ants started going crazy, and a fight was getting ready to break out, right as the alarm went off.

the day has been filled with procrastination… i know in my heart this is the best thing to do, but my head keeps asking if it is. it’s very clear lumbia’s health has deteriorated, to the point where she’d regularly stopped eating much. at 12 years old, she weighed five pounds. she stops to eat for a few moments, then goes back in her space to curl up. she had stopped grooming herself essentially, and her energy’s just extremely low. her eyes no longer have the same life in them. i would look over to see if she was still breathing.

the closer we got to that moment of inevitability, i began to waver between nausea, butterflies, weakness and tears. that ride/walk to the veterinarian’s was one of the longest we ever had. i wanted to prolong those last moments with her. when we got there i didn’t even announce myself; i just sat down, took her out of the carrier and comforted her. there was a dog who came in around the same time, and his loud bark scared her. i have never seen her so calm at the vet before. she usually darts out of the carrier and out of my arms. like many other cats she disliked the fact that vet experience was out of her ‘comfort zone’. this was a huge sign to me, that she was telling me this was the end. she was just tired.

the receptionist finally asked if i had an appointment; i told her i did, and my name. she just walked towards me, grabbed the carrier and we walked to a part of the clinic i had never been to before, while i carried lumbia. her silence implied that she felt sorry for the both of us. it was very clear to lumbia that something big was going to happen, because the room we entered looked entirely different than the ones we normally go to when she’s gotten a check-up.  the room, despite being slightly bigger than the majority of the rooms, looked and felt ominous, fort obvious reasons.  i sit down, and lumbia proceeds to give me a big, long hug; with lots of nose kisses.  i can only figure this is her way of saying goodbye.  the nurse/assistant comes in and we deal with all the finances/logistics/signatures so i won’t have to do it before i leave.  after a few more minutes with her, the assistant takes lumbia to get an IV attached to her front right leg.

he brings her back, and makes a lighthearted joke.  he’s been making them consistently since the day before, when i brought her in to get weighed, and to make the final appointment.  i don’t envy his position, where one needs to keep it light in order to not go crazy… surrounded by sickness and transition.  he asks me if, in her final moments, i would like her on my lap, or on the table.  i opted for her to be on my lap.

the doctor comes in after what seems like forever, with two needles.  she walks in as i have tears streaming down my face.  she has a sorrowful look on hers.  i don’t envy her job either.  she comments on how lumby looks tired.  the first needle goes into the IV that is bandaged to her arm; she moves slightly as a natural reaction, but barely.  she became so weak that she wasn’t even responding to needles.  i could tell that she stopped breathing before the full contents of the needle entered her body.  the doctor then put a needle with saline solution in the IV.  it happened extremely quickly, and she left quietly.  she did not have a seizure; no fluids or solids left her body.

it was approximately 4:35 pm.

the doctor moved her right front leg and her tail, so that her whole body ended up facing my right side.  it looked as if she was just taking a nap.  the leg that was still bandaged was covering her right eye; both of which were still slightly open, glossed over.  i cried throughout this experience, but when she placed the stethoscope over lumby’s heart and declared that she was gone, i wailed.  it does not matter how much you’re aware of the inevitable; when reality sets in, you’re still affected.  i spent about 15 more minutes with her after she left, just crying and trying to make sense of how unreal this experience is, despite having experienced it before (back in 2004 with holly, who had pulmonary carcinoma).  as she lay there lifeless, it was a lot easier to see how much lumby wasted away.  lumby’s looks were deceptive, because she was a burmese kitty.  her build was really stocky, even when she was wasting away.  you could feel her ribs, you could feel her breastbone.  i ended up feeling what felt like a lump in her belly, which led me to think even more that she was suffering from cancer.  nine months ago, it was discovered she had kidney failure; however, one is able to usually stabilize (if not cure) said kidney failure.  her health deteriorated to a point where she lost half her body weight.  she stopped eating at regular rates.  she began to vomit regularly.

my friend.

my companion.

my love face…  is gone.
i keep replaying these moments in my life, to make some sort of sense of it all.
david was so kind to dig a hole.  we surrounded the box lumby was placed in, said our kind words, and thanked lumbia.  i took the shovel and was the first to put dirt over her.  it felt like i was burying my child, or best friend.
i am at the point where i cannot slow down, or i will break down.  i am really tired, but i don’t want to go to bed.  for hours, i have still seen her silhouette, brushing past the chair i am sitting in.  when taking a shower, i heard her voice.  her transition is still fresh, so connecting with something or someone close to earth makes sense.
my hope is that she knows she was loved.

a self-diagnosis of love…

the winter months are approaching; as it gets darker out earlier, i do my best to prepare myself mentally.  it could be anything from taking extra vitamin d, to intentionally eating healthier.  one thing that makes me warm-hearted is spending time with my dear cat friend, lumbia.  when i curl up to rest she’s right there to curl up as well.  she’s an older cat (10, soon to be 11) and though she’s still quite active she loves to live a basic life- eating/drinking, resting and going to the ‘bathroom’.  it’s a lot like when we humans get older.

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lumbia and i met when she was 2 years old; she came into my life after i ended a very toxic relationship.  the more we spent time together over the years i recognized that she is extremely sensitive to the energy around her.  she’s really friendly to most humans; however there have been a couple of people she avoided.  she is very talkative with specific tones when she is in need of something.  she’s also sensitive or allergic to certain things (like fleas), and will throw up when she has an allergic reaction.

she is extremely sensitive to the energy i carry.  whenever i’ve been depressed she takes that on.  it actually makes me sadder, because i didn’t want to make her sad.  whenever i am happy she’s receptive to that as well.  whenever i leave she gives this look of ‘you’re leaving AGAIN??!!’ and goes back in a little ball to rest; when i come home she gives me a very vocal greeting, and walks up to me.

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a lot of humans just look at cats or dogs (or birds, snakes, mice, etc.) as a ‘pet’ and may not necessarily consider their emotions to match our own, especially if they have been around for a long time.  and of course, they choose us.  if we treat them with love and respect, they will be dedicated to us.

it’s a lot like us humans.

as a human i am constantly learning about myself and the world around me daily.  the older i get, the more i find myself sensitive to energy in general.  there have been these feelings though, these sensations i’ve had ever since i was a child; and i had no idea how to articulate these feelings.  i though i had always been alone in these feelings, and it was not until recently where i learned it had a name.


autonomous sensory meridian response.  anyone who experiences ASMR would know exactly what i mean when i speak about it- it’s that pleasurable tingling in the head (and sometimes shoulders/ arms/ears, fingers/etc.), when you see someone in the midst of a task, or speaking, or writing.  there’s not a lot of research on it (as it’s a more recent phenomenon (in terms of its name)), but people have been experiencing this for years.  it’s nice to know i’m not alone in this feeling- there are others i personally know who experience this as well.  it’s also interesting to know that not everyone experiences this.

i wonder if it’s a defence mechanism which developed for people who were under stress as children- such as abusive households- and these specific things which trigger the ASMR are reminders of a ‘safe space’.  is it directly related to the chakras?  is it related at all to a mild OCD?  do people who have this have a high sensitivity to the energy around them? is it genetic?

i found out today that my sister also experiences this; however i know that not all siblings share this same quality.

in many ways it feels like this special club; these codes which have yet to be discovered are known only by those who experience them.  percentages are not known, and there continues to be surveys and films around the subject, to know more about why and how people feel what they do.

it’s also one of the first ever ‘diagnosable’ episodes not shrouded in negativity; since it is related to the pleasure center being triggered, there is a curiosity without ridicule or malice about it.

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watching people create things gives me the sensation; it is not necessarily something i can conjure up myself by will or force.  for instance, the earrings you see in the above photos…  as much as i focus on (and love) making jewelry, cooking, writing, etc., it has to be others doing it in order for me to be triggered.  this is definitely a journey i enjoy being a part of.  and yes, i do wonder if cats experience something similar.

as lumbia curls up and rests, i wonder what dreams she has, as her ears twitch; are they good or bad?  does she know she is loved, and does she love others, in the way cats somehow do, in their own language?  rest away little one, for it’s always a new day for you to explore.

just like for us humans.

my mistake was to think i made a mistake

i’ve become so much more accepting of the fact that certain pieces of music speak to me at a certain time for a reason.  i have so-called ‘songs of the week’ which stay with me for anytime from a week to a month.

this is what they are- for now:

i recall the days growing up as a child, where music was used at times to counteract the violence in the home.  due to this i always looked at music as a way of diversion, with healing potential.  i don’t recall a time when music was NOT played in the house; however it wasn’t until i was about 19 years old when i began to truly appreciate and love music for the gift that it is.  as a teenager i used to hang out at a (sadly, now-closed) record shop on 6th street in the east village, new york city; just wide-eyed and taking in lessons from knowledgeable men 10 to 50 years my senior.  my mother was my first musical teacher, pat. longo the second.  i will forever be thankful for their lessons.

ironically the greatest musical teacher for me, at 19 years old, was the radio.  within weeks of each other, both ‘maiden voyage’ and ‘giant steps’ exited the speakers, and without knowing what those two songs were, i overstood true beauty.  i had to find out immediately what those songs were.   love is indeed stronger than any compartmentalized notions of these waves of sound.  modelled after a tone poem, ‘maiden voyage’ flowed as effortlessly as gwendolyn brooks’ or nikki giovanni’s prose; i listen to george coleman and freddie hubbard’s saxophone and trumpet-respectfully- and i imagine those warm sunny saturdays, strolling over the brooklyn bridge.  i imagine those meditative moments as i listen to tony williams’ drums merge with ron carter and herbie hancock’s bass and piano call-and response where we had opportunities to watch the sun set on top of a tenement roof.

‘giant steps’- i heard coltrane’s scatting tenor saxophone, and to me it rivalled ella in grace.  never had i heard an instrument sing in that way before.  i began to memorize the quick notes in my head.  there’s something about this that makes my spirit soar.  both the albums those songs derive from have been two of my favourite albums of all time for years.

music can indeed be (and IS) a healing force of the universe, as albert ayler and mary maria parks so aptly put it.  just as music should be an ever-flowing mode of communication spanning generations, so should our lives.  however, just like far too many of us do to music; we hold on to these aspects of our lives to the point where it holds us back.  it is one thing to honor our ancestors and the art they created; but it’s imperative we honor the spirit of what they do as opposed to the physical body itself, so we as artists, activists, and individuals could positively progress and engage with the generations proceeding our own.

this current overstanding allows me to make sense of my own histories. the journey i’ve taken has been one of no regrets.  i feel as if i’m here to learn and experience as much as possible in my short time here on earth.  i’ve met and spent time with so many people with different levels of fame and success (some of those moments also changing my life), i’ve travelled a few places around the world, i’ve been without a place to stay, i’ve been between living in comfort and living in poverty; i’ve been assaulted, robbed, stalked, abused; i’ve attempted suicide several times; i’ve been depressed, i’ve been loved and disliked (and perhaps hated)…

i think so many of these struggles stem from the fact that i have never really fit in anywhere.  i didn’t necessarily fit in with the family dynamic growing up; i  didn’t always fit amongst my peers growing up due to my views and experiences, and i don’t necessarily fit now for the same reasons.  the difference is that now, i don’t see my differences as a hindrance.

i was the one who kept my head in the books when everyone else wanted to play; i was the one who became a vegetarian (then vegan) when i was told it would kill me; i was the one who played in punk rock bands…  i was the one who studied anarchism and various spiritual practises; i was the one who regularly stopped watching television at the age of 18; i was the one who thrift shopped and shaved all my hair off.  i was the one who majored in photography and made super 8 films…  i did all of these things i wasn’t supposed to do as a young black person.

i never thought of my life in this way as all of these things were happening; however, i realize ultimately that i was the one who lived according to the way i wanted to live.  i followed my heart/intuition and let the universe guide me.  we all have several paths presented to us when we enter this earth; it is up to us to choose which path we are going to take.


the path i’ve taken has again, been challenging to the people or society around me at one time or another.  i remember being the ‘odd one out’ because i wasn’t really interested in dating boys at the age of 11 or 12.  some of my classmates already were in romantic relationships, and while i didn’t say anything i always thought that was too early to be in a relationship with anyone.  i remember thinking people were ‘cute’, but it was nothing too big.  at 11 i wanted to play; i wanted to still be a kid, and dating seemed like a big responsibility no kid should really be experiencing, with emotional baggage peering around the corner.

of course, even at that age i was accused of being gay- ‘what- you don’t like boys?  well you CLEARLY like girls!!!’.  even at that age, to me sexuality and intense romantic feelings were private.  i wasn’t even processing sexual orientation at that age, and yet people decided to label me long before i felt ready to have romantic relationships.  and of course (because they felt sorry for me), people decided to set me up with a young man who went to the same school, who was more ready than i ever was.  i remember thinking that i was not into him, but i quietly/reluctantly obliged, noting one of the few times i recall actually caving into peer or societal pressure.  another girl was into him…  and he treated her quite mean.  i thought to myself, ‘is this what it’s like?’ and i knew this was not the life i wanted.

despite not being into romantic relationships at that time, i’ve always been a romantic in some way, even as a child.  i’ve always been an idealist to varying degrees, wanting to see others happy, even if i wasn’t.  i remember a couple of my classmates being romantically linked; one of them knew that i wrote poetry, so they wanted me to write a piece, declaring love to the other.  i was always interested in why people saw certain things in each other, and i  was also interested in how i could write about something at that age that i’ve never really felt or experienced.

i remember all throughout older childhood and preadolescence i would do things for people- cleaning their desks, patting their heads, writing things for them; and i wonder if it was a way for me to get the attention from my peers in the way i wasn’t getting at home.  it wasn’t until i was in my 20s that i was aware of how much boundaries existed for people.  i didn’t realize that people in my world generally weren’t as starved for affection as i was.

it wasn’t until i was 15- a late bloomer to some- before i actually ‘officially’ liked anyone, thinking i could just declare my feelings.  after this period came a series of mishandled relationships and mass rejections.  throughout this time i spent time with a lot of guys significantly older than me, and was usually the ‘little sister’.  very rarely did any of these men declare feelings for me.  the men i hung out with usually were in committed relationships, and did not stray from that.  in fact, i became friendly with their wives and partners; thus dispelling the myth that women and men can’t be ‘just friends’.

i was always the ‘bridesmaid’, the ‘friend’…  i’ve always been convinced that this was how i was going to live out the rest of my days.  admittedly it was something i found comfort in, due to this extreme fear of rejection.  for a while i was actually sad about it, since the older i got i saw a lot of my friends and acquaintances getting married and becoming parents.  relationships gradually change once you have other commitments to tend to.  there’s not much in the way of rationalizing the ‘cat lady’ future (as mentioned in the inaugural post); it just appears to be something that is.  i’ve just learned to accept it, and cherish the relationships i’ve had when i had them.  i know that i’ve learned something from everyone, even if it seems minute.

my fear of rejection has lessened tremendously over the years, and i’ve learned to take each case of it as a lesson.


and here is where we return to music.  for many artists, depression or devastating events fuel what one does with their art.  at some points it’s a reflection, and others, a diversion.

there are two artists i have in mind when i think of this:  michael jackson (who i consider my teacher (and have a different blog dedicated to him)) and isaac hayes.  both artists were phenomenal performers and composers in their own right, as well as generous outside of their profession.  both helped to build/fund schools in the continent of africa; both were crowned honorary kings (in ghana and côte d’ivoire, respectfully), both were concerned about injustice…  their painful experiences also fuelled their art.

recently watching films documenting their lives (either personal or through performance) put things in perspective for me.  mr. hayes was said by friends and family members to have suffered from a low-self esteem.  and of course michael has publicly stated that he did what he did in terms of his looks, in order to please his father.  both men in my view were incredibly handsome; and even though both took advantage of their looks to get mileage out of their performances, somehow there was something in their minds which stated the opposite.

having experienced strong issues with self-esteem, i empathize with these two men.  no matter how beautiful people think or say you are, there’s something different in the brain wiring which either makes you think they’re actually calling you ugly, or that they want something from you.  and if you don’t strive towards self-rewiring, the places you can go can lend to a potentiality of danger.

both michael and isaac hayes seemingly overcompensated in their performances to make up for whatever peace of mind they lacked.  they needed audiences to fuel them; they needed to keep working to feel relatively whole.  it’s also interesting that both were constant seekers of a spiritual resolve or peace.

there is something about art that leads people who have struggled to it.  for some it’s escapism, and others it’s for the purpose of healing/community/storytelling.  i began writing songs and poetry when i was 8 years old.  there’s always been a lot on my mind, and creative expression was the one thing i identified with.  as a child i used to write about things such as my imaginary friends, and i graduated to the teenage years with writing about morbid subjects, to reflect whatever depression i was going through.  at times i’d even sneak in actual events. i look at some of this stuff now, and i don’t regret anything i’ve written; for it’s proof that i’ve come a long way in not only my creative journey, but emotional as well.

in this journey i’m also learning to say ‘no’.  i do advocate for pushing the limit (or even ‘going the extra mile’) when it comes to some things; however, i’ve realized that capacity is everything.  if you tap out your resources for personal, creative and spiritual growth there becomes a point where you may run out of things to contribute or produce, and you end up repeating yourself out of habit.  if you don’t openly state where your capacity lies, you may run the risk of people taking advantage of you.

people who have not grown up in a place of love may not be aware of where the capacity lies, so they may be unusually nice to people, in comparison to their peers.  the need for love is so great that boundaries appear to be nowhere in sight.  this seems to be what happened with mr. hayes and michael- i definitely know this is what happened to me growing up.


capacity lends to the weight of something.  again, whatever capacity you have, this most likely will determine how much energy you give to something.  the more energy you have makes less room for negation or lapses in discernment- you are better able to clearly see the types of energy in people you encounter.  the more energy you have makes less room for mistakes.

do mistakes carry weight?  indeed they do, and paraphrasing mr. samuel, they do depend on how you feel- about yourself, and the world around you.  yes, there are genuine mistakes people make at their jobs, there are mistakes that happen with equipment or electronics, there are financial errors, etc.  right now though i’m speaking to the types of mistakes specifically to human relationships.  since this is the case i am wondering if bob ross was right when he stated there were no such thing as mistakes- “only happy accidents.”  did mr. ross’ statement even apply to humans, or just art?

depending on how one feels, those ‘mistakes’ can be used as life lessons, devoid of the negative connotations mistakes carry on their shoulders.  these ‘mistakes’ can really be gifts at times.  i find that encountering the same (negative) patterns in relationships leads to a time for me to reevaluate where i am at in life, and to examine myself.  i have worked hard at making the capacity for self-doubt smaller, so i can make room for allowing these lessons to come in.

and once you’ve opened yourself to that capacity; once you’ve tapped into that energy you’ll be able to fit anywhere in this world.  it doesn’t matter if others don’t say you fit.  whatever love or compassion you have for yourself is going to reflect your interactions with those individuals, whether or not you openly have love for them.  you may not love (or even like) a person; because of where you are in your life, addressing that person with the same respect you demand for yourself is going to be a higher priority than addressing them with the same negativity they deliver towards you.  when this happens- in my experience anyway- the person usually responds in kind, without the negative tone, or…  they tend to just go away.

self-love, self-respect and self-appreciation really do carry weight- and it’s much stronger than pride, which can be unsteady if rooted in negativity.  as the saying goes, ‘there’s only one way to go but down’; so a sense of humility is important- not just to formulate better relationships with others, but to also be open to learning more from your ‘mistakes’.