Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oscar the (Hospice) Cat

Jason Kottke posted this today, and I can think of no better thing to talk about today, when the news is flooded with images of W looking distinctly uncomfortable about his legacy. I'd far rather look at this mug.

Oscar lives at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, RI. Since being adopted by the center as a kitten, he has sat with patients on the day of their deaths 25 times. The article talks about him essentially doing rounds, but the most poignant part of the whole thing might be this sentence: "His mere presence at the bedside is viewed by physicians and nursing home staff as an almost absolute indicator of impending death, allowing staff members to adequately notify families."

So, we ask ourselves, juxtaposing against the sudden and insane events of six years ago, what sort of warning do we want? Do we want to build an invisible shield in the sky? Blast the asteroid off course? Do we want a cat to act as harbinger, so that when our loved ones go we can be there? Do we want, in the classic words of a New College classmate of mine, to simply "be ready to go?" Why/how do we pretend that any day is more or less precious than the one before or the one that follows? This is not meant to deliminate one's approach to death into tidy categories, but simply to open the question.

I think, given that we all end up in the same place, we really ought to be better neighbors in the meantime. You can chalk this up to petty ecumenism or some sort of nihilistic "in the now" hokum, but people are in the foreground of every scene of tragedy and desperation over the past couple of centuries. Doesn't matter what you believe; gotta get together to find meaning, gotta find meaning to begin understanding, gotta understand for the madness to stop.

I personally hope I have an Oscar. Warm fuzzy good, and I'd like my peeps there to wail and lament at the passing of my great genius from this rock. And once the fetters of the flesh have cast off, I can finally teach myself to do a back flip.

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