• Elizabeth Bartasius

Cat in the Road: Facing Pain & Suffering

I stumbled upon a dying cat last night.

On our drive home from dinner, I pulled up to an intersection in the dark of night, and my headlight shone into the big eyes of a beautiful black and white feline. She blinked. I thought perhaps she was just lounging, as cats do so well, in the middle of the breezy island road.

She didn’t move as the car approached, or when I honked; all cats run from the horrible loud noise of a engine. I knew then she was hurt; I would save her.

But when I got out of the car to assess the damage, my hopes faded.

Her back half was paralyzed.

Her front half was sitting up straight, in shock.

She tried to move, to get away from us, my husband, our friend, who was celebrating his birthday.

I could see her tongue was red, blood everywhere.

She was frightened and I wanted to cry.

We moved her to the side of the road, in the grass, under a palm tree.

As she fought to keep her head up, to keep alive, I googled emergency vet numbers.

No one answered. No one was coming.

I wanted to run, to get away from this horrible, gross, dying, bleeding, mangled, disgusting, sad, sickening tragedy. I wanted to run so bad, to just to leave.

I justified my fear by saying there is nothing I can do; I’ve done all I can.

I could walk away now, except that I could not.

I knew had to stay with her until she died.

I had to provide comfort in the only way I knew how.

I rubbed her ears, her neck.

I got blood on my hands; they smelled.

I stroked her and said, “It’s ok, you can go now.”

She relaxed a little, her eyes fading.

I felt hopeless too.

I am so insulated from the world of pain.

I rarely see 'bad' things.

Mostly, I look at smiling friends, island rainbows bouncing off the Caribbean sea, turquoise water, kittens climbing trees, lattes, laptops, homemade pizzas, storyboards of ideas and plot lines.

I mostly hear the various chirps of a hundred tropical birds, the distance chant of oceans waves, power tools working on renovations in neighboring houses, a text message alert.

I smell wet grass, salty air, musty clothes, and my husband's coffee.

I feel breezes on my skin, the dampness of a warm rain, irritating heat on a hot day, refreshment from a dip in the pool, salt on my skin after a snorkel in the ocean, the hungry kisses of my man.

I taste toothpaste, cardamon, a lemon chicken, peppermint. This is my life.

Sure, I've had bad things happen.

Sure, I've I experience trauma and hardships.

Sure, I have emotional scars

Sure, I face challenges and fears.

Sure, I manage chronic pain from an old injury and deal with symptoms from an autoimmune disease that sometimes takes me down for a whole day or a whole month.

Sure, I’ve been to the therapist and taken medications.

Sure, I cry.

But... I have never bled to death.

I have never tasted torture.

I have never felt hunger pains from starvation.

I have never smelled the cum and sweat of a rapist.

I have never been sold for prostitution.

I have never heard my own cry from being beaten or hit by a car, and left to die in the road.

I rarely bare witness to pain and suffering.

That night with the cat, I tried to imagine what it must feel like to be bleeding out, defecating involuntarily, broken, dying in the middle of the night, cars passing by.

I wanted to run from this one cat, on this one island in a big world full of cats and islands.

I wanted to run from humans and crimes.

From jealousy and retaliation.

From abuse and murder.

But I stayed and loved her until she took her last breath.

Only then did I run…


To Ben

To my laptop.

I often write to make sense of the world, relationships, feelings.

Yet, I can’t make sense of the car that hit her.

I can’t make sense of her broken hind legs and the way she scooted her paralyzed body along the road, in terror.

I can’t make sense of her pain.

I can’t make sense of jealousy and retaliation

I can’t make sense of hurting a child, simply for one’s own ego or gain.

I can’t make sense of murder and power plays.

I can only write.

I can only be with the sadness, sorrow, fear and tragedy.

Just as I can be with the beauty, magic, and curiosity.

I cannot turn my back, but face the horror, and stay with it until the end.

I think this is called living.


Ciao for now,


How do you make sense of the senseless?