Leo waits every morning at the bathroom sink for me to turn the water on so he can drink, immobile, curled up, confident. He knows that I will come, stands up with a purr when I do, stares into my eyes, mews with a low sound that fills his throat. Once he has drunk, he jumps down and runs off without looking back. Same when he pees or poops, except that he does not have to wait for me to turn it on. He has a ritual there as well. The sand box is like a small covered garage, so I don’t see what goes on inside. But I hear. Various, hesitant scratching sounds into the sand, coming from alternate spots, indicate that, like a yogi, he tries to find the area of best energy within the room for him to relax in the moment. When done with that, he does not bow respectfully to the Creator of all. He emerges from the box at full running speed, scattering sand bits that drop off his paws all along the way. There are times when he howls from any given part of the house. I go and find him. He is happy to see me. He twirls his tail around my leg. What was the howling about? I never know. Leo’s sister Lucy isn’t like that at all. Her strength is in the intensity of her silence. She sees everything, says nothing. She is filled with love. I see it in her eyes. If I move, she moves. She is always near, makes no fuss about it. And so questions come to mind. How do we leave behind what is precious to us—what gives us life, what quenches our thirst, what is so intimate that it feels like an inner part of us? Who teaches us how to part?

My mother says, “I have missed my family all of my life,” not realizing that I have had the same life. “They were always so far,” she moans. “My father died too soon… My brother was killed too young… My mother died too late for her to take back harsh words… My grandmother died too old to have kept her beauty… And my own son… died so quickly, I did not realize he was leaving… I could not conceive such a thing… Oh Lord!”

I can only listen silently when my mother says these things. My own heart is breaking. I reflect on how the world wants to know about artists and their process. How do they create? Everything is about process. Process is in. There has been more curiosity about the paint-stained gloves I wear than the result from wearing them, showing in my paintings. It was suggested that the gloves be displayed as a worthy piece of art; and the worn brushes; not forgetting the old easel that withstood all the pressure. It seems that digestion is of more interest than the food. People hope there is a recipe for everything. There is a How To book for everything. It’s easy—just follow the steps and you’ll know how to die, or how to let die.

 

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