Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Coming to grips with having come to grips

I'm not really expecting anyone to read this stuff and indulge me at this point. This is mostly so that I can look back someday and see how I was feeling and how I was working things out.

My fairly calm, sang-froid reaction to losing Bonnie is both a comfort and a concern. It's a comfort because I've been spared the headaches, the burning face, the lost sleep, the desperate thoughts and bleak hopelessness I've felt at similar losses. It's a concern because I feel like I may have lost something important and human about myself somewhere.

I always believed, and looking at that post from a couple of years ago about the song No One's Gonna Love You (More Than I Do)—which I love but will never be able to make a friend of or listen to—only underlines it, that when I had finally lost Bonnie, I'd come apart. Weeks of despair, time off work, waking up every half hour to find her not there, yearning for her touch, being unable to even look at a photo. It was something like that when Jenny died. But it hasn't been like that, for a very long time.

And now I wonder... why?

Twinkle went through hell, but I got through it, and I think I only came to tears when a card from the hospital came. Max, I got through that too. I ached inside, but I never came apart. But Bonnie, I figured there'd be no escape. So many years. So much love. So much singular, irreplaceable personality and companionship. How can my life be so almost normal, so soon after? I'm really trying to understand.

I know I loved her, and continue to love her in her absence. I remember, with some pain, the particular things she did, the contact she made with me, the way we were together. So it's not that it didn't matter, or I've betrayed all that. It's still here. So what is it?

Well, I guess it could be a lot of things. I'm a lot older than I was when Jenny died. Ten years older. I guess life really has worn me down some. Blunted keen feelings, made it harder for them to break through. Like I said, that's both a comfort and a curse.

There's also the aspect that I've been through the loss of two other pets I loved, and in so short a time. There's been almost no recovery time from morning and adjusting before it starts all over again. And maybe that, sadly, has robbed Bonnie of something that should have been her due. The rag keeps getting wrung out before it's really wet again.

Another aspect is that with Bonnie it wasn't really a surprise. Twinkle and Max got sick, and with two weeks, they were dead. A one-two knockout punch in each case. They left me less miserable than simply stunned. But with Bonnie, well, she was 15. She'd had a brush with cancer. It was back; operable, but probably for the last time, and would likely return. Her health had clearly been declining in recent months. And, unlike Twinkle and Max, I did get some breaks with her. When she terrified me the summer I moved by losing her appetite and taking to hiding under the bed in the spare room, I steeled myself for losing her. Turned out to be an infected anal gland. Immediately after that, Twinkle got sick... but I didn't lose Bonnie. Then, last fall, the cancer... but I didn't lose her then, either. I got six more months to enjoy her company and feel her love. So though I ultimately lost her, yes, I also had those sweet reprieves, and that's not something I got with the others.

Finally, it's right there in the post from two years ago I quoted this morning. I mourned Bonnie for a long, long quiet time before she really got sick and died. There were, quite literally, dozens of times when, in reflective moments, I'd contemplate the day I'd lose her, and have to brush away tears... and that was back when she was just fine, and robust, and making my life a daily joy just being herself. Even then, I was letting myself feel her loss. Maybe that's it. Maybe part of it is, in small doses, I let that out over time, rather than all at once. It was a constant reminder to be good to her, to indulge her, to pick her up and hug her and croon my affection to her, and see it blinked back to me, silent meowed at me, nibbled into my arms and cheeks. Maybe I haven't needed to come apart because I took so much of that mourning and converted it into expressions of love when it mattered.

Okay, now my eyes are stinging. <:)

I miss you, Pumpkin. But I missed you while I still had you, too, when it counted. I love you. I always will.


Bridgewater said...

About the vet bills: JAYzus, Joseph, an' Mary!
About the entries for this past couple of weeks: Please accept my condolences on the loss of your Bonnie. Having loved and lost beloved companions over the years, I can empathize with your feelings, both about her death, and about her life with you. We're partial to torties, too; most of our feline companions, both growing up and over the years since, have been calicos and torties. Nika's Guadaloupe Honey Rescue came to us in 2004, found starving on the street by our daughter, who asked us to foster the cat until a permanent home could be found. (Our daughter already had two cats and a husband in a small apartment.) In two days this ragdoll tortie head-butted and tail-wrapped her way into our lives and hearts. When we called our daughter to tell her she could stop looking for a home for the cat, there was a moment of silence, then a triumphant "Heh, heh..." Our daughter knew us only too well, and Honey had her forever home.

barefoot hiker said...

Bridgewater, hi, it's really nice to see you back. :) Thank you for your kind words. And the sweet story. I don't understand how people can do that... abandon dogs and cats. I'd rather think Nika's Guadaloupe Honey Rescue (is that her name?) simply went out one day and got lost, and somewhere, there's an aching heart that still hopes and wonders, rather than a hard one that doesn't care.

Bridgewater said...

Much as we would like to think that Honey was lost and missed, we suspect that she was a frat cat, adopted in the spring, socialized by many young male people (she especially likes men), and then left at the end of summer school or put outside when her (ir)responsible party discovered there was an up-front pet fee in the new apartment. It could also be that that was the point at which she began to be allergic to whatever she was being fed; a young person just starting the fall term might not have much patience with bloody crap on the rug, or the money for a visit to the vet. Then there's the fertility problem; she was about seven months old and had not been spayed, another clue that she was depending on someone who didn't have one (a clue, I mean). Most likely her former person was not hard-hearted--just unthinking, callow. She was obviously not feral but just as obviously had not been fed in some time. This was September 2004 in downtown Austin, Texas; the frat houses and student rentals line the side streets along the main drag, Guadaloupe, where Honey ran up to Nika and cried for help. Nika walked the cat home on the seat of her bicycle, reassuring her that it was all right now, Honey. So you can see how she got her tongue-in-cheek "show" name. She's a beautiful critter with lovely markings, luxurious ruff, apron, and pantaloons, and black face and feet, but with blue-green eyes and a spot of cream on one foot, not a show cat. Honey's her real name, both because of the drop of buckwheat honey right between the eyes and because that's what Nika called her.