Saturday, August 21, 2004

Remembering to forget

It occurred to a few minutes ago that the second anniversary of Jenny's death came and went without my ever noticing. The realization of it was prompted by the card I just got for P-Doug and G, who finally had to put one of their old cats, Chaucer, to sleep two days ago.

Jenny was a little black cat; I had her for 13 years. She was a present from my first and only real girlfriend. Jenny died August 15, 2002. She had a thyroid condition for a couple of years that would sort of come and go without much regard to the medication, but finally she got really skinny and couldn't control her bowels anymore. I coped as best I could. That Thursday morning the clock went off at 7, I got up at 7:13, walked out into the hall and saw her lying in the spare room, eyes open. She looked awake. But she was dying or already dead. The fur on her hip was licked the wrong way... it had to be Bonnie, my other cat... she must have been with her when she died.

I have Jenny's ashes on shelf. Recently they were joined by a little portion of Jody's. Jody absolutely loved cats. I think being there beside Jenny would make him happy. But anyway...

I'm not sure how to feel about this. I do understand that we can't dwell forever on those we lose, and as much as I've missed Jenny, I have gotten on with my life. I have Bonnie and Max to take care of now. But still, it's only been two years. I'd have been a little more comfortable if the first anniversary of her passing I forgot was the 5th or the 10th, not just the second. Will it be like this with Jody? Already now it seems to me like a long time since he died, but it's only been a little over two months. I was talking with him as recently as early June.

When I was a kid, I used to wonder how adults kept the lid on their sorrow and disappointment. I even used to wonder why they would. I still don't know. All I do know is that somewhere along the line, something changed in me. Dulled, blunted, and I'm less capable of feeling. Something's really died a little inside me, and it must be fairly recent because I'm a sloppy, sentimental guy and even in my 20s the littlest thing used to just wreck me.

On the other hand, I'm watching another of Jody's friends just wallowing in pity... not so much for Jody as for himself, in having lost Jody as a support in his life... and it vaguely offends me. Maybe it's that part of us outside ourselves looking back in, that Foreign Legion everyone keeps camped on their soul, that's telling me to bottle up my own feelings and just deal with it... because there's nothing I can do now to help Jody, make him feel better or loved, or bring him back to life. I think I've reached the point where I can see that feelings, in and of themselves, are one thing. You have them, they're there; you don't control them and you can't reason with them or wish them away. But expressing them, giving them a shape and a voice and a presence in the world outside yourself where they affect others... that ought to have some kind of a point. If it doesn't, you're just indulging yourself in their emotional machinery and demanding they print up pity for you in a way you'd never impose on, say, their wallets. I guess there comes a point where you have to internalize it, ferment it into some vintage just for yourself, stop making your problem everyone else's. Some people get that and some don't.

Does that sound cruel? Or realistic? It's the first time I've ever really thought about it explicitly.


Anonymous said...

Cool! I didnt know you like the Ramones... Well you just went up a notch in my book... That puts you at notch 1!
Ok, In a previous post I read you the riot act about accepting people with hadicaps. But when it comes to Moronic security guard I have to draw the line. Yeah that was creepy!

Anonymous said...

You never forget those you loved who passed away. At some point however dates become meaningless and what matters is the relationship you have with them... Even if they are gone, I still talk to some of the people I have lost. I just do it in private, in my head... To me the important thing is not the date of their passing. It's the fact that after all this time, they are still a part of my life, even if just in my toughts.