Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Memories are Everywhere

three cats on bed
Memories are everywhere. Mr. Sunshine, Jelly Bean and Mewsette on the bed in a photo I shared on IG 020320 but never shared here!

From the time I began writing about my experiences in pet loss, relating what I was feeling and thinking about it as I moved through grief, readers have thanked me, often in private, for my honesty, grateful to know another shared their feelings as they moved through grief, or helped them make a decision. 

 

I was driving back from our veterinarian with Mr. Sunshine last Friday and it caught me in my car, a sudden welling of tears, completely unexpected, I almost had to pull into a parking lot I was crying so hard and I couldn’t even identify a trigger, which cat I was crying about if not all of my losses last year and my life in general. Mr. Sunshine wasn’t feeling very well but seemed to be on the upswing, and I was feeling pretty positive that day.

I had been aware of some distress even though the visit had gone well, but decided to pull up some calming music for me and Mr. Sunshine and found a mix of classical beginning with Beethoven’s composition we all call the Moonlight Sonata, then continued with Chopin and more, though there were a few pieces I could sing along with (yes, classical). Singing opens me up just as painting does and that probably softened me up for a little dissolve.

Grief comes and goes in waves, and then once in a while the wave crests and you’re overcome. Healing is not a straight line of progression. Memories lie in so many parts of us and on so many levels, and the one or ones we are grieving are in many of those parts and levels. As we grieve we encounter each of these gems of love that stayed with us. For me it’s the echoing “nevermore…” that breaks my heart all over again.

I Want To Be Where That Gull Is Standing, Pastel, 9 x 12 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
I Want To Be Where That Gull Is Standing, Pastel, 9 x 12 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

But I felt then and even stronger later that I needed to release what I was carrying right then whether it was a good time or not, or it would slow me down running in the background, keep me up late or come out later, again, unexpected. In any case, we don’t have much choice when this happens, our emotions don’t roll on a schedule like our daily lives do. Sometimes that daily life schedule makes us hold things back because it’s not convenient, and sometimes it lifts us out of a deep wallow when we need it. We just always need to have awareness of our inner and outer life and make the best decisions in the moment and forgive ourselves when we didn’t or couldn’t. Crushing everything down is never the right decision.

Memories are everywhere

Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s bad, it’s always going to happen.

I know I was thinking most about Mewsette last week, photos, looking at photos as I’d mentioned last week, not only what a good time we had outside this time last year, but in years before.

Smiling, for a moment I almost felt as if she was there, then a moment of raw realization that she was gone, forever. The smiles lifted me up and softened my fall at the reality, and they also led me to the reality. Don’t walk away from this, be with it, breathe for a while and let it in. It hurts, healing always hurts, but walking away from it doesn’t change the physical reality. There’s no need to keep running full speed into that wall.

I’ve recognized the past month that’s one of the reasons everything takes me so long. This weekend I decided to take on a big pile of stuff in the basement that had a big pile of stuff on top of it. The sort of thing that really drives me crazy, as we always said. I knew what was in the pile. At the bottom was bins of usable frames with glass, frames without glass, carefully packaged pieces of glass for framing, and pieces of scrap mat board, cardboard, foamcore and larger precut mats from frames I’d purchased or reused. I not only wanted to get that out of my way, I wanted to use some of what was in it.

All of that had been outside under the tent when the basement was done last summer. I moved in the shelves and other fixtures, then waited on the rest because all the cats were locked in the basement while the kitchen floor and roof were done and they needed the extra space in the basement.

Seven cats in the basement.

Jelly Bean wasn’t doing well by the time I let them back upstairs, and I had to get ready for the Sunday farmers market, and then we lost him, all in less than a week. I decided to miss the farmers markets in August just to give myself time after losing both Mewsette and Jelly Bean, and all the changes in the house, and then Rock the Quarry at the end of August. At some point in August, before they came back to renovate the bathroom and install the windows and finish everything up, we had a couple of storms and part of the tent canopy collapsed and tossed a big bolus of water into the tent, and I finally moved everything back into the basement.

I didn’t realize some of these bins had water splashed in them because they’d all been pretty far from where the canopy dumped the water. No original art was out there, but some framed prints were in there, plus usable matboard and foamcore, things that cost a fair amount and I like to be careful with them. So I dragged them into the basement and lined them up in the middle of the open space left after I’d stuffed enough of the kitchen stuff either onto shelves in the basement or into the kitchen, and left them there. When I realized there was water in the bins I just turned my back on them, a little angry at possibly a whole lot of damaged goods that usually save me money because I keep leftover matboard and foamcore to get every last penny out of the cost.

But trying to work in the basement, they got in the way. Following Giuseppe around and trying to find him after his pacing and circling escalated, they got in the way. Every day, they got in my way. And I have no place to put things so other things got piled on top.

black cat at fountain
Giuseppe at the fountain.

Normally I relish a challenge like that. Under normal circumstances I spend time each day to keep things organized, usually in the morning before I sit down and start focusing, that’s the only way to make this crowded little house work. But things like the framing barge, like the Great Pacific Garbage Barge Patch, is full of memories and I avoided it. Not necessarily the contents though I do have associations of framing things and Mimi and the kids sleeping on the cloud bed on my work table, cats walking around the frames before they were in the bins, but more than that seeing Jelly Bean in that area of the basement the week before he died, seeing the others in the sun on the floor there through the years, and I’d be shifting other things around and I’d remember each of the ones I’d lost and the whole milieu of cats in that basement from the time they came here.

Every time I take apart a pile of something around here I think of how they were still here when I touched this thing, or they were trying to get my attention upstairs in the studio when I used this matboard. And it’s not so much what I remember as that I’m making one more permanent change since they left, and soon I won’t be able to remember them in places because those places aren’t here anymore.

All five on the cloud bed on my worktable, a place that isn’t there anymore.

So I just take on smaller projects around here, but on the weekend I’ve been trying to get to these larger ones because I know it’s going to take me longer, I know I’m going to waste time putting it off later and later in the day, but at least now I can actually tackle these projects.

I still have a lot of piles of stuff to deal with, but at least I’m, 1) finally able to get to them instead of avoiding them; and, 2) going through them faster when I do get to them.

I’m glad to be posting several times a week now, and able to keep on schedule for at least half the week. I still have photos and videos and stories and more, but I’m keeping a slow pace, keeping my awareness, being in this moment while part of me is in others.

 

Thank you for following our grief journey after losing three members of our feline family.

I hope sharing our experiences have helped you in some way, as sharing my experiences with you helps me.

You can read all the articles related to their loss by tapping one of these images in the side bar and in articles.

memorial graphic for a black cat looking in a mirror named Jelly Bean

 

 

 

 

 


Read more articles about Pet Loss in the First Person, my personal losses, about Pet Loss and other Essays on The Creative Cat.


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pastel sketch of three cats in silhouette
“Mewsette’s Tail”, pastel on white multi-media paper, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Mewsette slaps her tail back and forth so enticingly, Bean simply cannot resist. Giuseppe, Bean and Mewsette were hanging out on the cabinet in the center of the kitchen so they looked like only silhouettes against the morning sunlight through the back door. Read more and order.



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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

2 thoughts on “Memories are Everywhere

  • Brian's Home ~ Forever

    Yes, those memories are always present and sometimes pop up when we least expect them. I do like it when they make the heart smile though.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Brian. I love the smiles but I know there will be just as many tears for a while.

      Reply

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