Sep 23, 2012

Good grief.

Emotions are funny. Sometimes funny-haha, but mostly funny-peculiar.

Yesterday was the first day of fall, and my dude and I had to put our cat to death. Symbolic, as he pointed out. I hadn't thought about it, but it seems appropriate in retrospect.

As deaths go, it was pretty wonderful. She lay there on the table on her kneading-blanket at the vet's, bandages around both wrists and an IV in one arm. She looked small and fragile. Cancer will do that, I suppose. An injection, another, as we stroked her and cried, and the overdose ran swiftly through her blood and the greatest cat in the world laid her head gently to the side as if for a nap and the vet tucked a stethoscope up under that furry chest and said softly, "And she's gone." It took no time at all for that spark, that indefinable thing we call life, to be gone. Her eyes, still open, but glazed, lifeless. There is no other way to describe it except in cliches. That unique thing that was she was gone. Out, out, brief candle. There's a reason kids still have to read Shakespeare in school.

"If I begin to feel daunted I'll go off by myself. I'm like a cat that way." -Ernest Hemingway, from The Sun Also Rises

People deal with grief in various ways. I am, in grief, as in general, solitary. Cat-like. When I am sick and when I am grieving, I prefer to be alone. When I have something I need to handle, I handle it. I tend not to imagine during these times. I deal with whatever it is and move on. It can make me appear cold, I suppose. But that doesn't mean these emotions, such strange beasts, aren't lurking down there. Why, here they are, this minute, working their way out.

At the end of that passage from Macbeth, Macbeth observes that life is "a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing." I have to disagree with old Will on that. Yes, life is full of pain and anguish, but it is also full of love and everyday joy. Life, for all its hurt and all its happiness, is all we have. And it signifies everything.