“We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying … literature has come out of it.”
Trigger warning: several bummers ahead. Yes, your groaning is my groaning, and though this post will dig some dark coal, there is a writing diamond or two herein as well. And before we mention that effing virus, a little rehash:
Six months ago, my cat Malibu disappeared. I was deeply bonded to her, time and again laughed at her antics, worried when she was sick, looked to her regularly for comfort and companionship. Though I know she’s not coming back, I still scan for her striped shape in the nearby fields.
A few days ago I saw her sleeping on our bed—but it was just a crumpled-up shirt. She was semi-feral when we got her, so we continued to let her roam outdoors in the daytime. That felt right, but now I feel I failed her, that I failed to protect her. I still see her, purring with eyes shut in my lap. Six months later, the loss is daily.
Loss is a hollow place.
We try to help where we can, and try to survive our own trials and stresses, illnesses and elections. We work really hard at not being driven crazy by noise and speed and extremely annoying people, whose names we are too polite to mention. We try not to be tripped up by major global sadness, difficulties in our families or the death of old pets …
—Anne Lamott, Stitches
Two days before Christmas, my old boss skied into a tree at Tahoe and died. Though I hadn’t worked for him for years, I had always admired his goofy gusto, and how he drew others into his mad enthusiasm for skiing, diving, boating, hiking. At his memorial a month or so ago, many people testified to his fundamental decency.
On a cliffside above the beach, surrounded by the large memorial crowd, his son, a professional dancer, improvised to acoustic music a hard-twisting, and soft-flowing, and fully mesmerizing dance, a tribute to his father. Those movements were so knifing and experiential I can’t accurately describe their immediacy, but the dance made me burst into tears.