March of Loss

Seasons of Life

Sep 19, 2011 by

“I’m at the vet specialist with Snowball,” I said into the phone, “trying not to think about Snowball.”

I’m losing cats in reverse order.  Spot, the youngest, died of heart failure four months ago.  Snowball, the middle cat, has barely eaten since then.  Did you know cats mourn when another cat dies?  I didn’t even know they liked each other.  For 13 years they fought.  Spot bullied Snowball and stole his food.  The wrestled over use of the heated pad and played a fierce game of King of the Cat Condo for the window space.  When Spot died, I tried to show Snowball that he was gone.  Snowball walked on the corpse, as if in triumph.

And then he lost half his weight, as if to show that half of himself is missing without Spot.

A day at the vet makes my head hurt.  I sleep in the waiting room, waiting my turn to talk to the doctor.  I’m also waiting my turn to be the terminal patient, much like the first year and a half after Dave died.  My experiences have left me with little faith in the medical system and a heightened awareness of the fleeting nature of time.  I can’t stay in the moment.  I jump ahead.  From my perspective, we’ve already gone over the abyss and Snowball is gone.

He’s not gone, not really.  Not yet.  The vet brings him back into the room and we put him in the window, where he wistfully stares outside.  I try to understand what they believe causes him to starve himself and what we can do about it.  They speak as if no abyss exists, but I know better.  I know something about bravery and denial in the face of death, and I know death happens anyway.  I was there.  I saw it happen.  At some level I will always be sitting weakly on the floor of Dave’s ICU room and I will always be holding Spot’s limp body.  The moment of separation sticks, as if time cannot move.

A friend who knows about these things once told me the grief for a loved one never really goes away.  Though we learn to live with it, we simply have to accept it when it swells again.  She spoke the truth.  Sometimes it softly reminds like the touch of a loose hair on your arm.  And sometimes it obscures everything, like an eclipse.

I remember objectively, empirically, that lots of joy can be found in the world if I look for it, but right now I can’t remember what it feels like.  If you let it, the inexorable march of loss can drain all that joy out of life.  I’ve done my best to keep that drain stoppered up, but I can’t hold these losses back any better than I can hold water in my hands.  I know loss is the inherent risk of living, but the knowledge doesn’t take away the sting.  I dread losing Snowball as much as I ever dreaded losing the others.

You would think we would get used to it, but we never do.  We acquire losses as we age, like so many stones on a grave.  I only know one answer, to keep on moving, searching for that next bit of joy.


About the Author

Bonnie Simon Has Written 35 Articles For Us!

I am an urban homesteader in Colorado Springs, CO where I raise chickens, make my own yogurt and am learning to grow some food, all within sight of downtown in a 1950s era neighborhood. I am starting a small business designed to fill the gap between local farms and local dinner tables.
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