Stories of Kitty Davy: Part Two
LIFE WITH KITTY (Continued from part one)
by Sheila Krynski
First published in The Journal for Psychological and Spiritual Integration, vol. 7, no. 2 (Summer 1994), pp. 23-32.
According to Sheila, “This group of stories seems to fall in three categories: stories about Kitty (More Memories), stories about my own experience (Loss), and finally, an appreciation for the gift of her friendship (The Gift).
Dilruba [Kitty’s house at Myrtle Beach] is a universe. Kitty’s vast world is contained within The Bedroom, The Living Room, The Dining Room and the Front and Back Porches. The drama of life abounds within these walls.
Kitty looks very much the same. Perhaps over the months I haven’t noticed how she has changed. Although she is in a wheelchair now, instead of walking, and may not be as clear as she used to be, and often rests in the hospital bed, she is ALL KITTY. Her strength and graciousness and enormous capacity for love and understanding show through just as strongly in these new circumstances.
Kitty’s fundamental devotion to the principle of harmony is so much part of her that through her illness she has made harmony happen around her. All around her had to be harmonious, or it had a definite effect on her health. This has been a constant theme from the time she was in the hospital, so sick and seemingly unaware of her surroundings, through her recovery period. Everyone involved in her care has noticed this. At times it wasn’t clear what was the right thing to do in Kitty’s care; everyone just did the best they could. In these circumstances all that was important was helping Kitty. And clearly what helped her most was harmony.
Kitty’s belief and devotion are so great they have transformed those around her — who apparently are there to help her. What a joke! In her ill state, Kitty is an example of increased awareness, not diminished awareness.
A portrait of Dilruba is not complete without including Kitty’s suffering. I don’t have the capacity to understand it, or even convey a part of it. The privacy and silence and aloneness of her battle echo with the sounds of suffering that are part of real love. She doesn’t speak of it, but it sometimes wears her down. We witness the effect of its fire. She is very brave. And, she is alone with it.
There is such a dignity in this universe called Dilruba. To walk through the front door is to enter a vibrant world of only Him and His Kitty.
While I was sitting behind the Tomb in India recently, a friend told me that when Kitty died his mother said to him, “You’ll never have another friend like her.” The truth of that statement took my breath away.
Through this year the theme of friendship came up often, from many angles. This was part of Kitty’s legacy. When she first became ill the people around her were not very aware of each other, but over the year, because of her, that changed.
That’s why I loved being with her. She knew about friendship. Hers didn’t depend on good behavior and wasn’t dispensed with restrictions, but was an introduction into the possibility and simplicity of unconditional love. The power of this intimacy helped expand horizons. A brief brush with it gave one wings, enabling those around her to become better.
Kitty was never actually sure just why people got such fun from stories about her, which came to be known as “Kittyisms.” They are attempts to portray her endearing and unique qualities. Kitty was loved just because she was Kitty. Her gift was that she showed us how to do that: to love for love’s sake.
The Food Monster (Revised 2014)
Time with Kitty is so richly textured. Along with her new-found confusion is a clarity that wasn’t there before. And the imprint of her endearing personality more and more marks life around her in Dilruba.
Food, for instance. Kitty loves food. Dilruba, Kitty, food and love for God, all blend together into one. Food madness is part of Dilruba. This primal call hovers in the hallways waiting, just waiting, to nibble on the superficial armor protecting the poor helpers who may — just for a moment — allow themselves to share Kitty’s extreme delight in a cookie. CURTAINS! It’s ALL over! The ferocious, ever-present food monster eats another victim! Suddenly, within the helpless worker, towering and swirling needs are formed: for chocolate, meat with gravy, for dried apricots in the jar by the toaster, for cookies in the two tier tin, for the ham waiting in the second ice-box, or half a croissant left over in the first.
I first witnessed this in someone else besides myself a few years ago when I watched Ellen dash through the living room to the apricot jar in the kitchen, before saying hello. With relief I identified my own distressing obsession with candy bars in Dilruba as a shared malady.
Likewise, for years I looked forward to cooking Friday night meals for Kitty. It was always the same: fish, asparagus, rice, rolls and fruit. I was afraid to change the menu because she seemed to like it so much. It gave me pleasure to watch Kitty, from the corner of my eye, enjoy her food, and was a treat to be part of such a wonderful celebration.
Last week when Dot called me up to come over because Kitty was so distressed, it was not surprising that food played a part in the solution.
Kitty was very, very upset when I got there. Distraught mostly because of a disagreement she felt she had had that day.
As a last resort we got Jane on the phone hoping to clear up the matter.
“Dear,” said Kitty on the phone. “I’m sorry if I said anything wrong. I apologize.” . . .
“Yes” . . .
“Yes, dear,” . . . “Yes.”
Dot and I wondered what was being said on the other end. Whatever it was, Kitty’s mood was improving.
“Yes, dear,” Kitty continued, “but is it boiled ham or baked?”
We both silently collapsed in laughter. To experience Kitty’s charm is better than eating. She nourishes the soul with deep delight
Like a statue, he stood frozen on the path in front of the car. His blue eyes reflected the headlight beams like glass in the dark.
Hushed in the front seat, Kitty spoke softly, not to disturb the magical silence. “Look at that deer,” she whispered. “I think the family lives over there,” pointing to the woods on the right.
In the stillness nothing moved.
“Where do you think they sleep?” she wondered out loud, concerned for his comfort.
Someone was counting the cookies. And someone else planning to bake two dozen muffins in the morning for the church group that was coming. Kitty wasn’t sure why they were coming, but arrangements had been made.
She had not been well, feeling fatigued and depleted overall.
“You know, Kitty, you don’t have to do this. You can say, ‘NO, No, I won’t!’” quipped someone in the room, disguising the dare with humor.
Suddenly her eyes sparkled with a flash of mischief, quickly replaced by an ocean of strength that seemed to come from Him. It was only the other people in the room who were diminished by her condition of servitude.
When I first came to the Center I didn’t know anything much about Baba or what went on there. I did know that following Baba meant being helpful, so I kept sweeping the Original Kitchen floor — although hardly anyone was staying at the Center, so it wasn’t really dirty. At some point Kitty came into the kitchen, noticed what I was doing, and said, “Why don’t you go to the Boathouse and read a book?”
Immediately I interpreted this to mean that I wasn’t good enough to even sweep the floors. “But,” Kitty continued, “first go up to Cabin on the Hill and get a volleyball from the closet on the porch and bring it to me for the children in Happy Club.” Was I thrilled! Redeemed just in time, and allowed to do something.
A month before Kitty died, she called me up late one Monday evening. I was just about to leave for her house. I was scheduled to sleep there that night, as well as Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Kitty said, “I’m going to take you up on your promise. Would you sleep over tonight?”
“Will you sleep over tomorrow night?”
“And the next night?”
“Oh, you’ve made me very happy,” she said with music.
I was so happy when she hung up, I wanted to sing.
The news had just come about Mehera’s serious condition. I raced in my car to Dilruba to tell Kitty, bursting into her office just as she and Jane were dialing the phone to call India.
“One moment,” I said. “Here’s the information from India about Mehera.”
After listening to the report, Kitty transformed into an unfamiliar, wintry figure. Got up and left.
A small, saddened friend of the Avatar, hewn from stone ages ago, withdrew from the room.
Delilah, the night nurse, woke me up in the middle of the night to come into the bedroom. Kitty was sitting in her rocking chair, very upset.
After a while she asked me to get into her bed while she sat in the rocker next to it. Since I had to go to work in the morning I thought maybe that would be best, and I would just sleep there.
Before dropping off I reached over to touch her hand to check if she was cold. She raised her finger to her lips, saying, “Shhh, you’ll wake her up.”
Another time, close to the end, Kitty was sitting in her wheelchair across the room. Saying nothing.
Cheerfully I told her, “Kitty, I’ve been writing,” which I knew would make her happy.
A small smile filled her face as she slowly looked up.
“…But you’re not going to like what I’m writing about.” And I told her the stories were about her.
Watching the news register, I could tell she wasn’t happy. After a long while, looking up again, she said slowly, “It’s all right.”
Disregarding her own comfort. Again.
(As the months pass by since Kitty’s death, I feel more and more unconnected to Baba, wishing I could be with her again. And Him.)
The Joke’s on Me
As she exited this world she took with her a warmth I associated with life. Leaving behind only life.
I used to laugh at people who were in this predicament, complaining that He was destroying them. “What a joke! ” I chuckled.
Now, though, I’ve grown laughable. In looking for love, I’ve become unlovable; in working for Him, inept.
On this road to becoming His, clarity is collapsing into an echo.
If I were at this table with Kitty, I would not feel so much like I have lost my home.
It would seem as though she had just received something simply wonderful across the table. And I would be flowing over with an abundance of more, no longer needy.
If I were at this table with close ones in India, I would be so excited, forgetting I have lost my home. It would seem, though, as if my company made work for them, so I would stay submerged, not letting on I was needy.
If I were at this table with Baba, I would feel very still, knowing I had no other home.
I am here, though, alone in this room full to tables, trying to breathe. But the unscented air is too thin.
KITTY’S: The light through the casement windows altered by the maroon rug gave the furniture in her living room a more unified look. The worn green velvet love seat with the swirly wooden framework, the stuffed armchair nearby, Kitty’s beloved Early American wooden rocker, the undersized upholstered stools stored behind the hallway door, and other assorted pieces brought out from time to time.
It was a place where many met over the years for special afternoon teas, festive holiday gatherings and memorable after-dinner conversations. The big couch marked where visits with Kitty often began, while one waited to see her in the book room. Everything here was comfortable — eating, talking, watching television. It was a safe place to be in His Company.
MY HOME: In Myrtle Beach. Familiar and unkempt, a place to wait in the interim.
MEHERAZAD: Where He lived.
MEHERABAD: Where He’s buried.
HOME: Shelter for the homeless who have lost their capacity to rest in comfort, who are no longer waiting, lingering in safety, or holding on to memories. Where He’s been waiting all along.
It goes on and on. Dancing on this wave. Restricted to continual movement, apart from Him.
In Dodger Stadium the pounding concert shook the community into remembrance. The momentum of the marching rhythms fanned a clarity throughout the crowd, clearing a path to His Door.
But within this growing rapture, I remained bound.
Years before, in Myrtle Beach, when I complained that I felt I was doing nothing, Kitty said, “Sometimes when you are least aware of it you are working for Him.”
In that I heard the faint beat of a new rhythm, the rising promise of a pulverizing march.
Turning toward this sound, I longed for His Grace. To step off the wave. And dance as dust. In the music of His Home.
(Two years have gone by since Kitty’s passing.)
It seems like another time now. Joy is returning. And the charm of friendship coming back.
I’ve been unexplainably swept back into that compelling whirlwind of activity again. Reminiscent of Kitty.
And recognize that it was she who gave me my first glimpse of the strength that comes from loving Him.
A very great gift.