Love is more than an emotion. It is a state of mind. It can be a high. It can be a lot of things. Learning from the scriptures and the actual composition of the word in Hebrew, I’ve come to believe that in love we get a glimpse of our creator, by way of our love.
As some of my readers have realized, I spent about two weeks up north with a friend, who was very ill, and was supposed to have a surgical operation. I came back at the beginning of this week, and some of my experiences are still reverberating in my heart, and haven’t yet been assimilated to the point where I could write about them freely. I myself have been close to death, and know the feeling of ‘I’ve lived a good life, and now I’m ready to go’. But it can be harder watching someone you love on the tenuous edge of existence than it is being there yourself. There is that feeling, ‘if only…’ if only he would do this or that… it would still be possible to save the situation. Because we ourselves are not in his situation. I was seeing what was happening from my own perspective, somewhat removed from his reality, and still motivated by the desire to hold on to someone dear. It was heartbreaking.
Coming back to Jerusalem was wonderful. I feel so fortunate to be living in this city that I love. And I was eager to get back to normal day to day life, which had been interrupted just a short while after the long holiday we had. Nechama, my cat welcomed me back with love and feline directness.
I have known much love in my life… for men, women, children, and the aged. In each case it is different. In each case, very special. I never take it for granted… it is never a known syndrome. Each time, love is a unique experience. I have loved women with all my heart. But for me, it has never worked out to be like the ‘happily ever after’ in fairy tales or Hollywood movies. And so, it’s not surprising that in my relationship to Nechama too, there is pain and aggravation, and sometimes we get on each other’s nerves… I wonder sometimes… if it’s my choices that lead to stormy relationships, or who I am… or the way things are. I’ll let you know as soon as I find out.
In any case, I had just gotten home. I offered Nechama a treat of chicken breast, and put some peanuts in a small bowl for me… poured a shot of Jack, settled into an armchair, turning on the TV to catch up on the latest news and politics… and feel at home. Nechama, after a quick check of the treat she had gotten, came running after me, and with one short bound, landed in my lap, put her arms on my chest, and pulled herself as close to me as was possible, in a beautiful welcome hug that almost made me forget the television, as I hugged her in return. We stayed that way for a couple of minutes, before she moved to the crook of my arm… and for a while it seemed that she would just settle in and enjoy just being with me.
But no… that would be ‘happily ever after’… and we don’t have that sort of relationship. She rested on my arm, pinning it down to my knee, and put her front paws on my upper arm, and very slowly, purring all the time, started inserting her nails into my flesh, just a little at a time. Her claws went right through my white shirt and into my flesh with a precision that reminded me of Chinese acupuncture (though I have never experienced that first hand). With great patience, she slowly moved down my arm, puncturing my flesh over and over again… and then moved to my biceps where she inserted her claws just a little deeper. I won’t say it didn’t hurt. But there is no denying I felt her love every moment of the treatment. There was a very intimate connection between us, and I was filled with love for her as she expressed her care with passion. Finally, she pulled in her claws and lay her head in the hollow of my elbow. And we were together, peacefully.
It was only the next morning, when I was about to put the same shirt on again, that I noticed that my left sleeve was covered with blood. When I showed the shirt to my dear friend Noga, asking her how one removes blood stains from linen, she was aghast. How did this happen, she wanted to know. When I explained, she said, you’ll have to teach the cat that there are limits. And when the stains were reluctant to come out in the wash, I too thought that it was a nuisance. But there is something about love… even bloody love…