Might I be human, after all?

I was thinking about grief the other day. Thinking my grief over my brother’s and father’s deaths last year didn’t last long. The crying wasn’t overwhelmingly intense. Or at least it wasn’t more than a handful of times. I wondered what’s wrong with me. Why aren’t I more broken by the events of last year? Am I cold? Heartless? Unfeeling? Are the antidepressants numbing normal emotion?

And then I read a blog post tonight: Daddy’s Little Girl, and I posted a response. As I wrote, the deep, gaping cavity in my chest that I’d been clenching closed these past months broke open, the grief spilling out. Maybe I’ve been too consumed by my mother’s neediness to have enough stillness to access my grief. (She hasn’t called since she hung up on me a week ago.) Here are the words I wrote that broke through:

When I was growing up, I hated him more than I loved him. When I hit my 30s and 40s, the hate faded bit by bit (as did the abuse) and the love grew. When he was dying in hospice in October and it was just the two of us alone every night, all I felt was love.

Speaking of love, Sophie the stray cat had disappeared for an entire week. I kept telling myself she was fine; she’d found her way home. Last night when I pulled into the driveway after work, she was out front waiting for me. I couldn’t believe it. No more skulking in the shadows, luring her out with a trail of Greenies. There she was, waiting. I thought perhaps it was because she’d gone hungry over the week she’d disappeared. But tonight was even one better. When I got home, she wasn’t waiting. But when I went outside and called her, she appeared! We then made our way through the steps she has established for us over the past six weeks:

  1. Eat tuna that I spoon onto the saucer for her from the can, bite by bite.
  2. Stretch (downward facing cat, and then each leg straight out behind her, one at a time).
  3. Bathe, taking meticulous care each whisker is back in place.
  4. Meow once or twice as she walks back over to me. (She has a very high-pitched squeaky meow, much like her sibling to be, Sally.)
  5. A minimum of five minutes of intense petting, paying particular attention to her head, cheeks, and under her chin, while all the while she purrs quite audibly.

Sophie appears to be well on her way to becoming an inside cat. Will it take another six weeks? Stay tuned.

About Unconfirmed Bachelorette

Unconfirmed Bachelorette, a/k/a Ella, is a 50-something-year-old lawyer who wishes fervently she could retire from the practice of law and write full time. Never-married-childfree Ella resides in Austin, Texas with her three fluffy black rescue cats.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's, Antidepressants, Cats, Death of a sibling, Elderly Parents, Forgiveness, Love, Stages of Grief and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Might I be human, after all?

  1. i love your blog title πŸ™‚

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  2. A valuable read. I think there’s even more packed in these sentences than you even realize πŸ™‚ I’d love to sit and talk for hours about your experience. Everyone’s Beast is unique. . . Keep writing.–M.

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    • Your post described the beast, and people around me, so well. You can try to imagine him, but until you actually meet him, you’ve got no idea what he’s really like. I’m still not entirely sure. He’s a shape shifter.

      Thank you for your kind comment.

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  3. mindofshoo says:

    Yours and Donothingtaker’s experience are different than mind in two regards. I am male and my father died when I was 18, What I have felt was at the time, at least for me, I always loved my dad. Regardless of the abusive (physical, mental and emotional) I remember lots of fun activities with him but always with an asterisk. How much was he drinking that particular day. . For me, my life was the norm. The chaos was normal. It was my life. I didn’t know anything else.The hate grew as I got older and understood it didn’t have to be that way. Someone told me once he was a good man with a drinking problem. Was he? I will never know, cause all I know is drinking. I was kind of the opposite than you. So I went from loving (as a kid) to hating (before I understood alcoholism) to forgiving (only recently). We all are human, altered by alcoholism. The most important element in my opinion, is to learn from it and not repeat. Which is what I did. I don’t drink.

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    • It took a very long time for me to get to forgiveness. Alzheimer’s mellowed him. He grew softer, sweeter, as he faded. It’s almost as if his rough facade fell away. He forgot he needed it, and became who he always was. He no longer guarded his essence. I stayed with him alone, all night, for five nights, as he died. I did a lot of forgiving in that quiet room, listening to him breathing, hoping he could hear and understand my words. Without those nights, I think I’d be far from at peace. They were a gift.

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  4. I’ve got news for you, you ARE human πŸ™‚

    I’m glad that you reflected on what you wrote to me because I was very affected by your words. I think you have a lot to offer others based on your experiences. And maybe through doing that, you will address your own needs as well and allow yourself to really grieve.

    I’m a bit of a crazy cat lady and I am happy to hear that Sophie is becoming more of a housecat- there is nothing quite like an animal and their unconditional love waiting for you when you get home!

    I am so glad I am able to your blogs and flattered that you read mine πŸ™‚

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    • Ah, you tapped into the human part of me. I hadn’t been able to access it. I was just telling someone I was over it. I was done grieving. He lived a long full life, I had him until he was 83. I’m fine. It’s life. And here I am tonight, reading your comments, and crying again. I’m not done. How silly of me to have thought so.

      Sophie was waiting for me again tonight. I’m working to get to the point I can bring her in and put her in my spare bedroom. Once she’s acclimated, I’ll take her to the vet to make sure she’s healthy, and then start working on the introductions. Sadie and Sally might not be pleased. Three black fluffy cats in my bed. No room for a man. πŸ˜‰

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  5. gertmcqueen says:

    I would like to share a piece I wrote a year after my Dad died. It is on my sister’s site where we place stories about our family. I don’t know if this link will come in correctly, if not just copy and paste into a browser.

    http://ruthsippelpace3.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/everyone-has-a-story-in-three-parts/

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    • It’s beautiful, Gert. Just beautiful. I’m beginning to think it’s just now starting to catch up with me. It was waiting for me to be still.

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      • gertmcqueen says:

        thank you, you do have to be still sometimes. myself and 2 sisters were dealing with other issues within the family that first year, I went to a Hospice grief counselor who help and gave me ideas, this was just at the beginning of yuletide that first year. I wanted to purge it all for the first anniversary. It took me 3 days of writing before it took shape. I miss him still

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  6. Kathy says:

    I didn’t grieve for my loss for probably a year or more after my mom died because I was so worried about my dad and my kids, especially my son. I cried because I am an emotional person and I missed my mom, but I was too worried about others to think about what I lost from my life when pancreatic cancer took my mom from me. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no time period for grieving. We all grieve in our own way and at our own pace. But the one thing I did realize was how important it was for me to grieve for what I had lost. Grief still hits me at times even though my mom has been gone for over 4 years. I still miss her and think about her every day in some way. I wish you all the best and please know that you are not alone in your journey of grief and healing.

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    • Thank you so much, Kathy. I think I’ve been so caught up with my mother, I wasn’t finding him missing. Now that she’s stopped calling me every night, stirring up the ashes just as they’ve begun to settle, there’s a stillness inside. I can feel him there. Just out of reach. I can feel him like I felt him in that hospice room.

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  7. dogdaz says:

    Little by little we all change and grow. Loss is definitely a very big lesson and found (as for Sophie) a bigger one yet. Nice to meet you. – DogDaz

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