I had to put one of my cats to sleep yesterday. It tore me up. It’s still tearing me up. Abby was a wonderful cat, a little squirrelly, but what cat isn’t. She was cheerful and loving. All you had to do was look at her and she started purring.
One of the perks I’ve told myself about writing is that it’s an opportunity to take those pesky emotions and really drill down into them. Feel them from the inside out, then turn them loose on the page. It’s funny how you can tell yourself these sorts of lies and still be torn inside out when bad things happen. There’s no arms-length, no clinical detachment. Being an author isn’t giving me any kind of armor against what I’m going through right now. If anything, I now have too many words to describe what I’m feeling.
The only thing I’m learning about grief from all of this is that it’s like a painting overlaid another on a canvas. Each brushstroke of loss is affected by the ones below it. Mourning Abby is making me go through losing my father all over again. It’s different this time, more distant, but he’s right there with Abby as I wonder how I’ll get by without them.
Abby was the younger of my two cats. She was supposed to be around for a while yet, while the old lady – Laces – slowly declines. Laces is closer to 20 than to 19. She’s supposed to be sick and frail., and once she was gone Abby and I would muddle along without her somehow. But Abby pulled a fast one. So I’m already seeing the underpainting for the next piece. When Laces goes, I’m going to be a wreck. I have people who love me and it definitely helps, but the painting still needs to be finished, no matter how painful it is.
Maybe I’ll be able to look back when I have some more distance. I’ll look back and say that grief is like a smothering blanket, or a cocoon. It’s like a cold forcefield. An empty room with no doors. Maybe it’s all those things, and I will have something I can spin into my stories.
Or maybe I’ll look back and realize there’s a chunk of time missing from my life, like the 6 months I lost after my father died. I guess only time will tell.