Last November, my cat Madeleine had a heart attack and died, but she was revived by the emergency hospital vet. It was, to say the least, a traumatic experience for me, no doubt for her too. I couldn’t get over it. I wondered if she had had an out-of-body, or as my husband and I joked, an out-of-kitty experience. So I did what a writer does. I wrote about it.
Maddie had had a urinary tract infection for awhile that we thought we were treating but the antibiotics didn’t work. One Friday, she vomited her dinner and gave up eating. So I took her to the emergency vet where after a routine examination, she went into cardiac arrest. Luckily, the doctors revived her. Afterward, the experience stayed in my mind for weeks. How could I have let this happen?
The artistic outcome was I started writing a story about it and couldn’t stop. It’s now a novel. It’s about a young gardener who’s just finished graduate school and comes home to care for her family home while her mom’s away in rehab. The working title is Sophie and the Tree Hollow. And here are the first few paragraphs. If you like it and want to read more, let me know. I may self-publish it, I may shop for representation, I’m not sure yet. The good news is Maddie’s infection-free and as healthy as a thirteen-year-old cat can be.
I’ll tell you who I am but only if you promise not to tell. It’s a secret. If word got out, people would get excited. I mean really excited. I’d have eccentric ladies at my door with questions about beloved relatives, skeptical teenagers wanting hard proof, and curious businessmen interested in the chances of job success. The truth is I can’t help with any of that. I can only help with what I’m asked to help with and I don’t decide when that happens. The Verdant Souls do.
So who I am can’t be explained by a short summary. It’s a long story but I’ll give it a go. First, I am human and I was made in Seattle, not by my parents, who indeed did make me biologically, but by, and don’t laugh, the forest. The natural world. I know that’s a “no duh” idea, we’re all of the natural world, but hear me out. Seattle is a city that used to be a forest and even though hundreds of loggers cut down hundreds of trees and built buildings out of them, you can’t take the spirit of the forest out of the city. Fir saplings sprout anyway. Bracken fern moves in. Birds spread mahonia seeds. The Native people understand this. The forest surrounds Seattle on all sides, it creeps into the suburbs, and in my case, exists outside my back door. But not only does it exist outside my back door, it exists inside me in a way it doesn’t with other folks. And that’s the crux of who I am.