Perhaps it is the rapidity of repetition of ill health that has me reeling, just a bit. Back in June, we very suddenly lost our sweet dog Tipper. I am one of those folks who reckon that the animals in our lives are part of what connects us to that great mystery of life. Tipper's sudden decline into deteriorating health came almost without warning. True, she was an older dog, but I thought she might be with us longer.
We are currently experiencing a similar surprise of declining health with our one dear cat, Cassidy. He was one of a pair of kittens my daughter and I picked out fifteen years ago. When we first saw him, Cassidy and his brother Sundance were playing animatedly in a small cage at the local humane society. My daughter and I were walking around in the "cat room" looking at kittens. Some looked positively ill, others were so inanimate that, save for the rise and fall of their tiny sides evidencing breathing, it wasn't certain they were in fact alive.
And then there were these two oblivious kittens. They tumbled, and played, stopping only briefly to come to the front of the cage, paw at us, then resume playing. We picked them out right away. There was a bit of a disagreement between my daughter and me as to what to name them, but suddenly Cassidy and Sundance seemed like the RIGHT names.
Sundance was a gorgeous cat, but he succumbed at age three to renal failure. And now Cassidy is showing signs of kidney failure. He has almost stopped eating, is losing weight, and generally declining including sudden blindness from retinal detachment. I am savoring each day with him, knowing the days are coming to an end.
(Kitten Sundance at left)
So, back to this ANNUS MIRABILIS. The phrase has been variously used, but really came to public prominence when Queen Elizabeth II used it in her annual address to her nation in 1992. Herewith her opening sentence:
1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis.True, the queen's troubles far exceeded mine. She had experienced the break-up and divorce of her second son's marriage; her first son and his wife (Diana) had separated and their sordid conversations were being aired in the British press, and her daughter Anne divorced her husband. Then, one of the queen's favorite residences, Windsor Castle, caught fire. No wonder, it was an annus horribilis for her.
For me, it has been a run of family ills. My father fell, developed a hematoma and was hospitalized. My aunt fell, broke her hip, and is slowly on the way to recovery. Then my sister's daughter required near-emergency surgery, and just last week, our daughter-in-law had a health emergency that required her to have surgery, followed by several weeks of recovey.
I almost hesitate to turn the calendar over to the next month in a couple of days. I will strive to adopt the attitude of the poet John Dryden who wrote the poem Annus Mirabilis from which the term Annus Horribilis was derived. Dryden's year of wonders was 1665-1666, which ended with the great fire of London. Dryden was comforted by the fact that the fire eventually stopped and London was rebuilt.
Ah--time to resurrect a favorite expression that I have been known to use: this, too, shall pass.