Sunday, October 04, 2020

My ‘house’ is now bigger

Today was the date that Nigel and I chose to be our cat Bella’s birthday, since we had no idea what her actual birthday was. Today I shared the Facebook “Memory” of the last time I commemorated her "birthday" (pictured at left). Here’s the text of what I wrote:
Today is the second anniversary of what turned out to be the last “birthday” Bella had, because she was gone some four months later. I was aware this was coming up, mostly because I keep forgetting to delete it from my calendar, but it was also because I realised that I completely missed it last year: It was two weeks to the day since Nigel died, and my mind was rather preoccupied. That means that the “birthday” was actually the first ”anniversary” of anything that I faced without Nigel, and that’s something I only realised a few days ago.

Here’s the thing: The fact I forgot about it last year is understandable, but the fact that this year I realised the little factoid about me missing it last year means that I now have room in my head and in my emotional awareness for minor and peripheral stuff, and that’s clearly some sort of progress. This shows me that the mental and emotional “house” I live in is now bigger than it was last year, and while this particular memory may seem like a trivial thing, and it actually is, the implications are huge. Sometimes progress through major grief is marked by the tiniest of things like this, but it’s progress nevertheless. I’ll take it.
This one didn’t pop up because of the Facebook “Memory”, but it reminded me about it. I was interested in it not to commemorate her “birthday” as such, but for two other reasons. First, last year’s “birthday” was the first since both Bella and Nigel died. That means I was actually wrong when I said in my post about the anniversary of Nigel’s death that “From now onwards, every anniversary that comes up will be one that's already happened at least once since Nigel died”. Technically that was true—this anniversary happened last year, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time, so it’s as if it didn’t exist until today.

The other reason I shared this today was what I said on Facebook, that the fact I was aware of all this now demonstrated a bit of progress. And that’s the best reason of all to share a memory like this. Sometimes the tiniest bits of progress are among the most important.

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