The Invitation

I had begun to get that restless feeling from being done with work so early in the day, and when my cat was hit by a car on Friday, I knew it was time to start a new book. I suppose it was a coincidence that I had known for months that the book was going to be about meeting, and then losing, and then finding my wife again, and that Lou, my cat, died exactly 29 years to the day after Jen’s parents moved her across the country. When I had been only thinking about writing it but not sure when I would start, I had also known the book would have to do with death, even though no one dies in it. “How am I going to work that?” I would wonder. I did not have to wonder that anymore, though Lou dying only seemed to remind me of something I had lost track of in the commotion of getting things done.

I do not mean to suggest that Lou sacrificed himself so that I could start a book. But I do know this: death is always an invitation to the living. Between cats and humans it is only a matter of degrees. The body I carried back to my yard in a plastic bag was not going to climb a tree again, and the poor thinking mind can only do the math of life and conclude that something now was missing.

My mind had done the very same math 30 years before, because Jen may have lived, but she didn’t live with me, and so something was missing and my world was incomplete. The mind thus rejects the invitation that what we call death offers. But the invitation was not intended for the mind. The heart, meanwhile, has never been so interested in the form love takes. A card may burn but the invitation remains, and all that can ever be missing is the decision to accept it.

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