When The Sun Breaks

The sun is out today. It’s 33 degrees Fahrenheit in Buffalo, New York, with a wind chill that would make you think it’s the dead of winter. It is winter, still…but only for two more weeks. Tonight we change the clocks again–spring forward, as it were–losing an hour of sleep but suddenly gaining an hour of daylight.

When the sun comes out, I essentially move into the front porch. It’s an enclosed porch–more than a screened-in, less than a sun room. I think they call them three-season porches in some places. It’s my favorite room in the house, hands down.

I’ve come to love my house, so this is no sleight against the other rooms–they all have their charms and comforts and uses. It’s just that this room is so perfectly perfect, I can’t help but love it most of all. It gets the most natural light. It’s usually the warmest room in the house. And despite having the street out front and neighbors on either side, it’s always been a peaceful, quiet-ish room where it’s easy to relax and unwind or get work done. It has always been an amazing room for naps (I had a love seat out there for a long time), but I moved my beat up Good Will/Ikea sectional out there last fall when my partner moved in with his giant (and in better condition) couch, and now the naps out here are transcendent.

I came out there/here today to get some freelance work done. It’s a bit messy in here from winter clutter–things left over from incorporating my partner’s belongings with mine, and things that got tossed out here because we didn’t want to deal with them until spring–but it’s still such a peaceful, healing vibe.

Even if I start crying every time I look at the foot of the chaise, where the sun turns the dark brown leather summer-seatbelts-hot, and I’ve taped up more holes and scratches than I can even count.

See…this was Lando’s favorite room, too. He loved the sunshine more than canned tuna. He would lay out here all day long if I let him, creeping along with the warm spots as the sun moved across the sky. All year long, even when it was freezing cold out here, Lando wanted to be out here searching for the sunshine.

I could write a novel about Lando and the miracle of meeting him, my love for him, and his presence in my life, but all you really need to know is that he was my beloved rescue cat and friend. Truly a cat like no other. He was (questionably) thirteen years old in 2019, and this past October he got very sick. The sickness progressed, as sicknesses tend to, until all reasonable options were exhausted and the vet and I decided it was time to give him the pain-free peace he so deserved.

When he was sick, though, my imperative was to make him the happiest he could possibly be. He was not moving much that whole last year, so this mostly meant soft blankets and warm spots. It mostly meant letting him spend all day out on this porch, in the sun, while I brushed him or napped next to him or fed him little bits of whatever he was willing to eat that day. Sometimes I think he spent the entire day out here, not moving except when I brought him in after dark because it was too cold without the sunshine.

When the sun finally slipped into its usual autumnal coma, I had to close up the porch. Because it’s not insulated, the temperature on the porch can drop nearly as low as it is outside when the sun is not warming it, and a chilly porch was no place for a sick kitty. Of course, he didn’t understand this. For him, the porch was where the sun was, where the cozy comfort of peaceful kitty dreams was. Indoors was warm, yes…but what about the sunshine?

I don’t know about him, but for me, the porch is also where the memories are. Countless naps with Lando snuggled by my face or against my belly. Countless deadlines met with a laptop on my lap and Lando purring at my side (he was never a lap kitty, so this suited him fine). Countless photoshoots trying to capture the majesty of his perfect little face as he dozed in a pool of sunshine, on the couch, on the area rug, on the spot right in front of the door where I worried sometimes his little pink nipples might get sunburned.

If you follow me on social media, you know all this probably. Lando was a star of my Instagram feed, and I spoke a lot about what was happening when he was sick. And these days, I am pretty open about my grief over his loss, which is deep. He truly was one of my best friends, and even though I am at peace with his death, the grief often feels bottomless.

But I read something around the time I lost him that has stuck with me. I can’t remember the exact words or where I saw it, but it was something along the lines of grief being what love feels like when the object of our love is no longer there to receive it.

With that understanding, I realize it is not my grief which is bottomless…but my love for him. And I like that a lot better.

As I said before, I am open about my grief–I think that is an important part of the grieving process–but most important of all, I am open to my grief. When it knocks, I open the door and let it in. I don’t even pretend to fight it. Yes, this is partially because I’ve been focusing a lot on allowing myself to feel things, but also, I open the door for my grief because grieving Lando is the closest I can get to loving him. Grieving Lando–remembering him, appreciating all that he was, all that he did, all that he brought to my existence–is loving him.

So I am writing this from the porch, the sun on my face, remembering. Crying a little. Moving forward in the only way I know how: by loving him.

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