“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” Arthur Ashe
Yesterday, like countless similar crispy mornings in the Andes, my husband Pat and I were awakened by Kimchi, our snow leopard-looking cat, torturing a mouse on our kaleidoscopic Peruvian carpet in the living room.
The serial killing hobby is my least favourite aspect of sharing a home with felines.
I’ve rescued my fair share of lizards, birds, and other small beings from their murderous jaws over the years. Regardless of my dislike for his gloomy activities, I do honour Kimchi’s savage nature and never interfere with him doing his cat thing.
When he does torture creatures in our house, (unless the process is too far gone to be interrupted) I rescue them as often as possible. And that’s what Pat did yesterday for this adorable white mouse, fighting for its right to live from under Kimchi’s claws.
Once the mouse was freed from my cat’s grip, it ran and hid in a nooky part of the house. We locked Kimchi outside until we could find his victim and released it outside where it belongs. What usually takes a few minutes to do, turned out to take the entire day.
The mouse which we named Jazz, hung out between the bathroom and the downstairs bedroom. It seemed afraid of us, yet somehow intrigued. Faster than you can blink, it sprinted from one hideout to another, and we couldn’t get close enough to catch him. I grew quite fond of little Jazz as the day went by.
As afternoon stretched into early evening, Kimchi’s feeding time was approaching.
He would soon be back home from his outdoor adventures, expecting a few pieces of hot dog sausages, his favourite treat. (He also goes crazy for chips.) Fernando, my Argentinian friend, once said, "Your cat has very American taste”.
In the last attempt to rescue the mouse, we decided to leave the front door open and hope it would get the hint that it was time to go.
Jazz would get close to the door, but then get scared and hide under the couch. After a few failed attempts at freedom, something clicked, and Jazz clarified what he had to do.
In a bold way, he raced for his life eighth all his rodent power straight through the door! Pat and I were both cheering him on, like overly-proud soccer parents at a neighborhood game.
“Go on to live little guy! Be free! We’ll miss you.”
At the synchronistic moment when he was about to touch the grass, a strong wind coming from god knows where blew the door violently shut and squished Jazz in half.
We stood silent, rooted to the spot in overwhelming shock and disbelief. He took his final breath under our gaze and gently passed away on the porch.
To say that I felt devastated is an understatement. Pat and I stood there for a long moment, sad and confused, not knowing what to do with ourselves. What kind of twisted game did life just play with us? The whole thing was mildly traumatic.
It was like being slapped across the face by a mixture of dark humour, and undeniable fate. What was the point in saving Jazz’s life, only for the Grim Reaper to come to collect his soul hours later, right in front of our tender eyes?
I sat with that question for a while.
Honestly, I couldn’t think about anything else for the rest of the evening. My chest was tight with anger and pain, it felt like the goodness of my actions had been cancelled by a force beyond my power. I found myself in a grieving process, and as I am typing this, am still contemplating the irrefutable unpredictable nature of life.
Just like Jazz, I could be a microsecond to reach “the finish line” (whatever I make that mean), and then “SWOOSH” swallowed by an anaconda during an amazonian expedition, or a slightly less glamorous way to go, the good old car crash.
After a troubled sleep punctured by horrific nightmares, I woke up with a sense of surrender and an answer to my question.
Witnessing this death was a brutal reminder of the fleetingness of my existence.Life has an agenda of its own that can’t be tampered with.
I sat with my fears around this truth for a while, and what came clear is that death is not what terrifies me. The fear is of being so focused on my dreams and goals, that I forget to be present, and genuinely relish each step I take on my path. Enjoying the process is where the treasure of aliveness resides.
Even though the passing of Jazz was tragic, he left a potent legacy.