I dreamt last night of roiling oceans, me adrift on a plank of wood, grasping hold with clenched hands, legs dangling in the water, knowing that sharks and other fish with teeth swam underneath. As the huge waves broke, I saw an enormous octopus, it's tentacles dark pink, sinewy, so very very many of them. And then it changed into a huge lobster, leviathanesque, antennae like stalks, rolling over and over in the huge waves.
It was early morning, and I woke up with a horrible stomach ache, aching back so intense it made me wince. This is nothing new. This is how it is most mornings. And most mornings, I wake up around 4am, get up, take ibuprofin and digestive enzymes, lift the Barnacle out of her crate to get her all snuggled and toasty under the covers, so that when the morning alarm goes off at 5:15, I'm warm, relaxed, and pain free. Not this morning.
This morning I just lay there. The new "daylight savings" 4am painted my bedroom pitch black. My stomach pain was a direct wraparound to the pain in my spine that radiates out like the roots of a tree on fire. The nausea, the discomfort of my distended stomach, reminded me of the half bowl of homemade veggie chili I ate last night for dinner, with a half a piece of millet bread. I didn't mean to only eat half, but fear kept me from finishing. Fear of pain. Fear of what I would feel in the morning.
And as I lay there, the cats one by one began to realize I was awake, and one by one began to purr. The sound of purring filled the room. Malcolm slowly climbed from the curve of my legs and tucked into my side, the weight of him on the bed, but his paws and head laying across my belly. Jacinta reached out her paws and lay them atop my shins. Baby Wallace made a trip up from the ottoman at the foot of the bed and sniffed my face for a long minute, let me smell the delicious umami of his fur and breath. I reached over and opened the door of Emmaline's crate and she slowly walked out, stretching her leg long and lifted like a ballerina, then snuggling down on my neck and shoulders, purring, purring.
And as I lay there, totally surrounded by love, the sound of contentment, the feel of soft fur, the warmth and gentle weight, I realized I felt no more pain. All I felt was Yes, Yes, Yes.
And I felt grateful, so grateful for this life, for this body, for the love that surrounds me, the gift that stewarding felines brings every day, every hour, and on mornings like this, profoundly so.
And then I got up and another day begins . . .