Elise and I bought a home together and began a our journey. We knew this spot was a special place to grow a family, so we began remodeling right away to make room. Sasha visiting us on occasion during the year and every summer, but mostly just the two of us together, learning, adventuring, growing. A family of three.
Adin arrived, right in our bedroom, on a cold November day, with Paul and Lauren and Claire by our sides, we welcomed him into our home and life and this community. Valerie the midwife ushered him into the world, and us into parenthood and a new life together. A growing family of four now. Four.
One day a lovely stray cat showed up. We named him Merlin, because he just appeared, like magic. He was mangy and hungry and scared, but we took him in and loved him and he loved us back, especially Adin. Our first four-legged friend, he became Adin’s companion and comfort, a special love. A family of five. Five.
Maya arrived, also in our bedroom, this time a new bedroom in a new upstairs, built for a bigger family, with two children’s rooms and a master bedroom and room to play on the soft carpeted floor. Maya arrived to an audience, Adin there to come and go during the birth as he could manage, Leslie to support him, and of course the midwife Julia to shepard in a new spirit. And for me this was something special. My last child for sure, and a girl now, something different. Six of us now. Six.
My longing for a furry companion of my own finally was appeased at the Middletown Animal Shelter. I went to find a mutt, and I found Jayson, a kindred spirit, another animal in need, deeply bruised from a life on the streets, he was to be my dog, and I loved him so, despite his crazy whining, his skittishness, his reluctance to being trained. Now we were seven. Seven.
Another scrawny furball kitten showed up on our doorstep one cold Chanukkah, and he was named Maccabee, after the season. He also took to whacking Jayson in the head when he got too inquisitive, like a hammer. Maccabee and Maya connected immediately, and he became her protege, always on her lap at meals, sleeping with her, at her desk when Maya was working, literally wrapped around her neck like a scarf, a real team. A family of eight now. Eight. A full house.
Did I think it would last forever this way? I don’t know. I am not sure I ever thought about it really, but I suppose part of this story was inevitable, part of it not, but all together it makes for cruel math.
Merlin, old and slow, became ill. He had a growth in his throat, and his breathing became labored, we watched him suffer just a bit too long before we could let him go. The vet came, and in front of the fire, on the carpet, Merlin left us. Our first loss as a family. A deep sorrow for Adin, for all of us. Seven again.
Now Jayson, partly deaf, partly blind, limping and disoriented, we knew it was time for him too. Elise and I agreed, and made an appointment for the vet to come to our home once again, on a Sunday. On Thursday, Jayson was in the driveway when each of us came home, he greeted Elise when she came home, wagged his tail, and waited for me. I arrived and got the same welcome, and watched as he walked off into the woods. He never returned. This time the loss was mine, with deep sadness, and we all missed his presence, his whining, his collar rattling at night, the constant in and out of the door. Six again.
Maya. Oh Maya, it is just too much, too much. Five again, but a deep reconnection with Sasha, so distant but so present in our lives always.
Maccabee became ill shortly after Maya left us. He missed her, sought out our companionship, but none of us could be there the way Maya was, none of us had bonded the way those two did. Two visits to the vet to prolong the inevitable, and finally it was time. Once again the vet was in our living room, in front of the fire, on the carpet, as we said goodbye to a beloved friend. We wept for Maccabee, and all he represented. Four again.
A new family now, a family of four, Sasha far away, beloved and missed, with us in spirit and love. New rhythms, new relationships, as we process the loss, the memories, and figure out a new way to be together. Four.
Maya and Adin at Sasha’s Wedding, 2014