Monday, August 25, 2014

Mixed Plate: Farewell to My Fuzzy Taste-Tester

We said farewell to our darling Indy on August 19, 2014. It was in the early evening, we had her vet come over to our house, and she was in our arms, in her own bed, when she passed on. It was nearly a year of fighting a hard battle with cancer, one we always knew she wouldn't win, but we weren't fighting for a cure, we were fighting for good days, good food, and good times. We are blessed to have had all those things and more.

Indy has been with me from the start of this blog. She has been my partner in crime when I'm making something in the kitchen, and during these last few months, she's been enjoying whatever food she wants. I'm taking a couple of weeks away from blogging, just to readjust to the New Normal of life without my fuzzy taste tester.

I'll never be able to eulogize her perfectly, but I always return to my favorite passages from Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. The words always come to me when a loved one has passed on, and these words linger in my mind now. They're especially meaningful because on the bad days, when Indy wasn't feeling well, I'd be sitting with her on the bed so she wasn't alone. Like people, she didn't like uncomfortable silences either, she liked hearing someone's voice, which helped get her to sleep soundly, feeling safe someone was there. But I worried that all I would do was talk about how sad or scared I was, so I would read to her. I chose books with beautiful words and rich passages --  Brothers Karamazov by Doystoyevsky, and of course Ondaatje, who is glorious with prose.

This passage is the title character, Almasy (nope, not, in fact, English), contemplating the loss of friends and lovers. He thinks of his dear friend Madox, who commits suicide in a church from despair at seeing nations ravaged by the Second World War. The line, "It is important to die in holy places," is so simple but elegant. This is juxtaposed over the dying moments of his lover, Katherine, as he holds her body, as her life fades away after a plane crash.

And all the names of the tribes, the nomads of faith who walked in the monotone of the desert and saw brightness and faith and colour. The way a stone or found metal box or bone can become loved and turn eternal in prayer. Such glory of this country she enters now and becomes part of. We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography - to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps. 

I carried Katherine Clifton into the desert, where there is the communal book of moonlight. We were among the rumour of wells. In the palace of winds.  

- Chapter IX, The Cave of Swimmers in The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje


  1. Oh Indy, sweetest of the sweet. The animal kingdom has lost a good one. xoxo

  2. Sending you the biggest, warmest hug. Indy had a great life with you and the way you filled her last days with such joy was something wonderful to watch from afar. XO


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