Caretaking: Omer 40

Caretaking: Omer 40
A nurse holding an elder's hand in hers illustrating a post about caretaking

Caretaking. A hidden foundation of the world. One that merits much gratitude. But gets little.

Today in the Omer, Hod, gratitude meets Yesod, foundation. Today’s quality is Hod she’b’Yesod, gratitude for a solid foundation.

Also today: What to do with myself? I’m not sure what day it is. I know I haven’t slept in three.

My chest hurts. For a week, nothing except Koi-cat has been real. Oh, I cooked. I worked at my job. But none of that counted.

Mostly I wanted to love as fiercely and deeply as I could. To cram five years of love into five days. Be a caretaker for Koi and his fragile body.

My son took the day shifts. I took the night shifts. We soothed Koi when he cried out. Followed him when he wobbled to a new position. Offered him water. Gave him space when we thought he was safe. Held him when he took his last breaths.

But today, my son is back to work. So I make my own rituals. I wash all the towels Koi soiled in his last days. Then, I unfold the soft bed of blankets I made to cushion his distended body. I clean his litter box. Hide the cat food, stash away the cat bowls. It’s not that I want to forget. It’s just healing to touch his things.

Caretaking is exhausting. It’s messy.  And it can be the purest expression of love. But, I was grateful to do it.

My husband prepared Koi’s grave, and then planted a hosta on top. The rabbis say burying the dead is the purest mitzvah. Because you don’t expect the dead to give you anything in return. Well that’s what caretaking is like, too.

You don’t get recognition. There’s no celebrity in caretaking. But you do weave the invisible safety net that holds the world.

And yes, I know our support for Koi was easy. At least, on the scale of human challenges. So, I want to celebrate the quiet care people give one another in hard times.

Is there a caretaker you’d like to thank today? Do it!

Today is Day 40 of the Omer, i.e., five weeks and five days.

New to counting the Omer? Here’s a primer.

  1. May the process of grieving bring you healing, peace, and a sense of deep connection with all life.

    1. Frieda, thank you so much for these words. Thy are perfect.

  2. Dear Rabbi,
    Yes, there is a caretaker I would like to thank today and always… and that is YOU!
    I’ve taken care of many of my beloved kitty friends in their last moments also and I embrace you in these moments.
    Sending tons of love waves…

  3. My brother Al loved cats. He alway had two. I am so glad that Al is welcoming Koi to his new spiritual space. I think they will love each otheg dearly.

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