In his Jar of Dirt
I had to say goodbye to my cat, Castiel today. My heart is a little bit more broken. When he showed up in my backyard 5 years ago, he wouldn’t let me get within 15 feet of him. Now, there’s an empty place on my porch where he should be. He hated being inside, being locked in small spaces. The one and only time I ever got him in a cat carrier prior to today was when it was going to be -50 with windchill a few winters ago. He cried nonstop until I let him out and didn’t come home but to eat, and only when I wasn’t there, for three days after that. Today, I put him in a carrier with barely a meow. Other people picked him up and prodded him and he didn’t even wiggle let alone try to get away. But truly, I knew on Wednesday what the outcome would be, even if I didn’t know why.
As it turns out, my beautiful boy was really really sick and has been for probably his whole life.
He’d lost a lot of weight too fast, he was pale, lethargic, not terribly interested in eating, and we’re pretty sure he was mostly deaf and blind at the end but we don’t know for sure. The vet did some blood work and instead of a nice round 29-48, my baby’s hematocrit was 3. It’s a miracle he made it home to me at all. I’m so glad he did. It’s so so much worse not knowing. It’s so much worse looking at every little furry body on the side of the road, every circle of buzzards or crows, and wondering. I’ve done that before too. I did what was best for him and held him as he passed.
I don’t know how old he was or where he came from. I know he’d been through some horrible things, just given how he responded to people. I know he preferred eating the birds and giving me the mice and moles. I know he knew how much I love him. And I know how much he loved me too. I know he didn’t want to go but he was scared and hurting. He fought hard to get home. I’m just glad I was able to give him a home for as long as we did.
I’ll miss him a lot. ❤
I was stunned by the news today of Bourdain’s passing. They’re saying it was suicide. If nothing else, we should note that money, fame, and success don’t automatically mean you’re ok. I’m sure one of those things makes life easier but the other two come with their own weights and costs.
I would like to note here that you are loved, even if you don’t know it, don’t see it, can’t believe it. You are loved. If you are feeling like you’re in a dark place, like ends feel easier, please contact someone. Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-talk please call them.
I’ve been in dark places before where my depression and my anxiety and whatever host of other voices join in there have tried to talk me out of my skin. Those illnesses have crafty voices but they are the worst kind of liars. It’s easy to feel alone, like everything would be easier, like no one would care. These are the lies your mind tells you, the lies that illness tells you.
My family and I watched Parts Unknown, No Reservations, and the Layover. He went to interesting places, met interesting people, and ate amazing and interesting food. And he got paid to do it. To me, that sounds like a dream. He brought interesting facts and introduced cultures to so many who would never have had anything like the opportunity. He helped make the world a little more connected, a little smaller. And he did everything with attitude and snark and a knack for language. It’s a very sad day today.
I reiterate: please, if you ever feel like death is the only way out or any way out, please call someone. Please get help. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your best friend or your mother or your child or some stranger you just met this morning.
Every year at the end of the year, I feel this crazy mad-dash urge to get stuff done before the kids are out of school. It’s a little less this year than it has been in the past because, honestly, my kids are a bigger help this year than they have been before. I would love summer if not for the constant bickering. Hopefully, oldest child will find a job and that’ll cut down on some of the bickering if only because they can’t bicker if they aren’t in the same room! There is zero chance of me getting the first draft done in three days (but it won’t be a whole lot longer as my zero was really fleshed out for me) so I’m not going to beat myself up over that. I am going to take a few hours and watch all the things I can’t watch when the kids are home. The oldest doesn’t like anything scary and the youngest is 11 so there are limits.
I don’t know that I have goals for the kids but I do want to take everything out of the little’s room and put it back together, weeding out the stuff that he has no use for and won’t do anything with. Some time this summer we’ll do a yard sale, whether it’s during the big one the neighborhood does or on our own, either way. We’ll spend some time in the woods a few times a week, get in the water as often as possible, and hopefully, enjoy the summer or at least not be miserable. It’d be hard to be worse than last summer so … yeah.
In not summer things: I’m struggling a little this weekend especially because my zero drafts always went direct to my dad for a plot check before I moved on to the next phase of my writing. Bear Ridge isn’t the first book without him as Demonborn was written when he was really too sick and I’d only given him a copy of it a few weeks before he died. So Bear Ridge is the second book I’ve written without him and I’m having a bit of a sulk about that. Honestly, he was really my only cheerleader and there’s just a big hole there now. I didn’t have anyone to celebrate over lunch or breakfast when I typed The End on the zero draft nor will I when I turn in the book. So I’m having a bit of a sulk about that too.
Filed under kids, Parenting
I think I’m getting better at grief. Maybe I leveled up and didn’t realize it somewhere along the way. I’ve been sort of offline for a few days – here but not here and mostly just playing Words with Friends and lurking on Reddit. My dad has been gone for a year now, the day came and went with no fanfare, no whistles or bells. I don’t know what I expected I guess. I am a little surprised that I didn’t dream about him. Maybe the melatonin is giving me more vibrant dreams at the cost of the vibrant, meaningful dreams that tend to poke at me around special dates. I didn’t dream of my mother around her birthday this year either. Like I said, I think I leveled up and didn’t hear the sunburst sound or get to allocate my level points.
It feels like so much has happened in this first year that he missed. I wrote a book that he’ll never read. I don’t have the right words for how upsetting that is. I’m kind of glad he missed all the health crap – he would have tried to help more than he should have because he was like that. The oldest kid continually surprises people with his talents – acting and singing. I know Dad would have loved to see the boy be Edgar Allan Poe and completely kill it. The youngest kid has tried a bunch of new foods – many of which my Dad loved to cook (granted, he loved to cook pretty much everything but still) and has come so far. He’d have been so damned proud of them both. And me too, for that matter.
I find I’m standing up for myself a little bit more, putting up with nonsense a little less. I’m not sure if it’s because of said leveling up or if I just don’t have the energy to placate people or stroke their egos anymore. Plus, I have much less time now that I can type again. All the words belong to me now – still a bit slower than I’d like but I’m so happy with the volume and quality of them!
My phone is incredibly quiet now – no one calls to kibbutz with me or texts final jeopardy answers anymore. I miss him a lot. I did however finally go back to his favorite restaurant – there’s only so long I can go without Theo Yanni’s baklava cheesecake (which is even better than it sounds). Heck, maybe that’s when I did the leveling up. Somewhere between the spanikopita and the cheesecake, the horn must have trumpeted. I guess that means my points are all automatically assigned though. Which is a shame. I would really like to assign some points to learning freedom of movement.
Is coming to a close in a few short hours and I have failed. Miserably. But I did write. I’ve written more this month than I have all year. It’s different now than it was and I’m a little, ok, a lot, sad about that. I miss having someone pester me about what I’m working on or how much I got done. Even when I wanted to yell at him for being pestery, I was always glad my Dad cared enough to pester. He was my biggest support, my cheerleader, my first reader, my editor, and my fact checker. I know I have had friends tell me that I’m a fount of useless knowledge but if I’m a fount, he was a river. Writing isn’t the same now.
I’ll get back to normal eventually but apparently not this year.
Filed under Life, Writing
I am still plugging along on Hunter’s Hell but I’m not counting on winning NaNoWriMo this year. The ideas are there and solid but the fingers are not quite cooperating the way I’d like. I’m about 10,000 words behind I think, give or take, but I haven’t started today’s words yet either. Even if I don’t manage to win, I’ll have a complete draft well before Christmas and that’s really what matters.
I went to my rheumy last week. I’m not entirely sure I like him yet – I’m definitely not really comfortable yet but I don’t really expect to be this early yet either. Fortunately, we are starting the process to drop the prednisone so hopefully, that means I’ll go back to having next to no panic attacks or crying jags in the middle of Kroger. He also upped the other med – but mostly it just makes me sleepy and a little forgetful and that’s not terrible. I’m having some increased pain in my hands but I expected that also so I’m not terribly worried about that either. It is what it is. I’d like to be closer to normal but I can’t make things happen any faster so there’s no point in being defeatist about it.
Next week is Thanksgiving here in the states. I am not looking forward to it this year. This will be the first year without my Dad and if I think of my mom most around Christmas and Halloween, I think of my dad around Thanksgiving and New Years. I’m not saying I”m going to start eating sauerkraut because ew, but I’ll be thinking about him and all his superstitions anyway on the first of the year. On Thanksgiving, I’ll be missing his sweet potato flambe for sure. It was my favorite from the time I was ten. I’m really glad my husband doesn’t really get it – really glad – but there’s a part of me that just wants to be miserable and maudlin and be left alone. That’s not how it’s going to work but that’s what I want to do.
I’m finding NaNoWriMo is a bit difficult this year without my cheering section calling to see how many words I’ve gotten. I don’t think I realized how much I appreciated having someone who was invested in my successes and failures and progresses.
By the time I get the schedule figured out to do all the things I need to be doing, school will be back in session. That’s ok. We’ll have fun. The youngest is ready to go hunt Pokemon again. The oldest is being a teenager (but at least he’s not half as teenagery as I was). I’m working on a few new crafty things but I really don’t like how they’re turning out just yet so it’s back to sewing machine with me. I’m working on a new book that I like very much. I’m doing a lot of figuring though – between the colony ships, timelines, and a whole new set of mythologies to work up, most of the work so far has been in my head. Well, technically it was in a notebook but Alfred decided I took too long at the bus stop one morning and now that notebook is gone.
It’s been really hard to be productive this year. I find myself all the time wishing I could send a few pages to my dad so he could tell me if it made any sort of sense at all. It was a huge benefit for me to have someone who didn’t read fiction reading my fiction. If something wasn’t explained adequately enough, he was quick to let me know so I could do better. And he was always supportive. He never tried to get me to write a different “Gendre” (that’s genre with a random D in it? I don’t get it either but now I miss it). He certainly tried to get me to read more nonfiction but he was only supportive with the writing. It’s weird knowing I don’t have that anymore. Yes, my family is supportive in their own way – mostly, that they let me do it without too many interruptions but it’s not the same thing as having someone who makes a point to ask if you’ve gotten any words on the daily. It’s stupid because that irritated me when I was struggling to write and now, I miss it terribly.
I can’t just stop everything though, can I? not if I want to reach the goals I set for myself. And I’m going to reach them. It may take me another 20 years but, so be it. I’ll get there. I’m doing a marathon, not a sprint. And now I have to go write someone else’s obituary. 😦 RIP to Adam West.
And now I have to go write someone else’s obituary over at the Geek Girl Project. 😦 RIP to Adam West.
It’s weird knowing I’m not about to get a call to tell me, again, all about this day 38 years ago, including the bit where I was fortuitous enough to go ahead and be an emergency birth so insurance would cover it and my parents would get to go home with not just a baby but a full refund because they’d prepaid all the hospital fees for childbirth. No one is ever going to tell me that story again.
Honestly, I didn’t realize just how much I talked to my dad until he wasn’t there to talk to. I’ve had a very long time to deal with missing my mom. I’m only just getting the hang of missing him too.
I was sixteen when I first heard Leonard Cohen. My mom had just died and I was a bitter, angry, broken girl (I am still those things some days). His words had no sugar coating, no false happy notes. His work was honest and imperfect and beautiful. His work has inspired my own time and time again. When I was in the darkest parts of my life, he, and the poets he led me to, were a solace of sorts. He showed me that poetry wasn’t just the dry imagery and metaphor we were taught in school, that music was poetry and poetry was music. It is possible that his music was the first to feel like poetry to me but I don’t know if that was Cohen himself, my own maturation, or the low pit I was crawling out of. I do know this: I am really tired of losing my idols.
Realistically, I do understand that it feels bigger because superstars weren’t really a thing before this great generation of artists. At least now these people know that they have touched people, brought comfort or inspiration or joy when it was needed. I know it really isn’t anything about this year but after so many losses, it’s hard not to feel like this year is just determined to break hearts.
Like Bowie, it feels like he got a chance to say goodbye with his last album. I’m so tired of goodbye right now. Cohen was the poet I wanted, still want, to grow up to be.
Champ sleeping in his younger days (2010)
For 15 years, Old Dog has been a good dog. He wasn’t always old but he was mostly always good.
We’ve known this was coming for a long time. He was able to stay with us far longer than we expected but it was time to say goodbye. We’ll always remember our Champ.
The kids are dealing pretty well – better than I am, certainly. Red Dog is going to take a while to adjust but I think he knew it was coming too. We had extra time we weren’t expecting to get – a few months – but that doesn’t make saying goodbye easier at all.
We tried hard to be busy today, to do normal things – we were supposed to have a yard sale – but I should have known better. I’m not good at being personable on a good day and today is not a good day. The weather gets it – torrential downpour that stopped the minute Older Child and I had everything cleaned up. It’s been that kind of day, that kind of summer, and that kind of year. No year is without good points but damn if this year doesn’t seem to be full of terrible no good very bad moments.
Filed under Animals, Life