Saturday, March 20, 2010
Kittens and Dali
As the anniversary of Stef's death rapidly approaches - it is two weeks from today - I find myself unraveling a bit. I'm having trouble sleeping, more so than usual, and I've had insomnia for years. It is reminiscent of my childhood, when I would hear my father walking the halls at night, unable to get a moment's peace. Peace is a hard thing to find when you can't quiet your mind.
I'm wondering if I should go back to the study of Buddhism, because that worked so well for me during and in the aftermath of my mother's death. The teaching of impermanence and attachment being the root of suffering was somehow comforting to me. It isn't unlike the teachings of Christianity, but it comes with no guilt and no shame. Christianity has been hard for me to swallow of late, not because I do not believe in God or that Christ was a living embodiment of God come to redeem our sins. I do believe those things, but I'm feeling a little bit abandoned by God at the moment. I imagine this is a natural part of the progression of my complicated grief, but it is enough to shake me up. What happens if my very foundation is rocked? What do I believe in then?
As the time draws near, I find myself thinking of things that happened in the weeks leading up to Stephanie's death. For example, next Sunday night will be the one year anniversary of when she was mugged in an alley in Frederick, MD, hit over the head repeatedly with a bottle, setting off the chain of events that ultimately led to her death just days later. Next Monday morning will be a year since she called me to tell me that she had just gotten out of the ER and needed a meeting (AA), that she had committed to the coffee service and wasn't going to let them down, despite the fact she was still picking glass out of her hair. The only thing the mugger took was the only thing of value she had in this world - a diamond necklace that her on-again/off-again boyfriend of 7 years had given her. She wore it most of the time. It was gone. So was he, as it turns out; he was getting ready to have his second child by another girl.
The image I've included here is Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory, one of Stef's favorites by one of her favorite artists. It's interesting that she was drawn to his images, which must have been so similar to what she saw in her mind when her mental illness was on the prowl. It is also interesting to me that this painting shows time sliding over a cliff, just as it is for me. You cannot stop time. It melts and continues to flow.
Yesterday we found out that our barn cat, Buddy, is very pregnant, which I suspected already, given the size of her belly and the pinkness and prominence of her nipples. I named her Buddy before I knew she was a female, before she would let me approach her to find out, when she was just a scrawny cat that wandered onto the property. The name stuck even after I tipped her up to find out what she had under the hood. She was our buddy, after all, and wasn't there a well-loved female character in the TV series Family who was named Buddy, a tomboyish Kristy McNichol? The name stuck, and so did she.
According to the vet, Buddy should deliver her kittens in a matter of days, so we've set up an area on the screened porch and sequestered her there to protect her and the kittens. She's slowed down on her eating, so I suspect the vet is right - the time is near.
This has all brought to mind, however, the time when Stef's cat, Gizmo, gave birth while Stef was in the psych ward in Baltimore. Not only did we not know that Gizmo was pregnant, we also didn't know that Stef was in the hospital. She was in the habit at that time of keeping us in the dark and not calling. Her cat was being neglected by the roommates, and so when she did give birth, she had stillborn kittens. She hid the one that looked most like her under Stef's pillow. When Stef finally came home from the hospital, she discovered all of this information and later discovered the kitten. Kittens coming into our home here have brought all that back for me and made for a very tough night.
Please don't go thinking that I don't spay/neuter my animals - I do. Stef was Gizmo's mom, however, and she was frightened of something happening to Gizmo, so she wouldn't spay her. She further brought an intact Siamese male into her home. Nature took its course.
As for Buddy, she was exposed to the elements and many other cats before and during her time here, but she seemed as though she'd been fixed. For her to turn up pregnant was a big surprise, but she'll be getting fixed after she weans the kittens. The kittens will get fixed, too, when they're old enough.
Life goes on in its big circle, doesn't it? Life, death, life. Daily I have reminders of Stephanie but none so acute lately as this cat getting ready to give birth. It will be both interesting and difficult for me to deal with.
For now I'm just hoping for sleep and a little peace. Om.....