Sunday, February 14, 2021

Two years into this march of changes

Two years ago today, everything began to change. I’ve been alluding to it all week, because it was only after Sunny died I fully realised how things had changed so dramatically over a short period of time. When I shared the Memory (above) on my personal Facebook, I said:
And this is the event that started the massive changes to my story. It was the first reduction in our little family in years, but only the beginning. Seven months later, Nigel died. And now, after the loss of Sunny, my little family is exactly half the size it was on February 13, 2019. There’s been so much to deal with over that time (including my own health challenges), and I actually have no idea how I’ve made it through it all. To be sure, the love and support of family and friends has been a big part of that, a huge part, but most of the time, most of every day, I’m alone with the furbabies. Is it because they depended on me? Was it luck? Was it sheer stubbornness? I wish I understood what the “secret” was so I could help others, but all I know for sure is that for the past two years I’ve been dealing with near constant change, some of it indescribably painful, and I’m still here. Maybe that’s all that matters.
There were a few changes close together in 2007, but after that it was only about the family growing, right up until February 14, 2019. The timeline went like this:

1999: Our cat Curzon came into our lives when Nigel gave him to me for my 40th birthday. Our dog Saibh joined us a few months later. We moved twice, and they were with us for several years.
2007: Saibh died unexpectedly in May, 2007. Jake joined the family in June. Then Curzon died in September. 2007 was the trying year, but our family, including Jake, remained unchanged for several years.
2010: Bella joined the family in April, and then Sunny joined the family in December of 2010. Our family again remained unchanged for several years.
2018: Leo joined the family in May.
2019: Bella died two years ago today, on February 14, 2019.
2021: Sunny died on February 2.

There have been a lot of highlights over those years, of course, but when Sunny died I realised that I’ve been caught in a Danse Macabre for the past two years—beginning two years ago today. That was why I titled a Memory from February 2017 “Two years before the two years”. I wasn’t trying to be cryptic, it was just the way I saw it. I could never have guessed that two years later everything would start to change, and it would be relentless change for the two years after that.

So, this isn’t really about our furbabies, past and present, it’s really about how temporary life is. For nearly ten years, the life Nigel and I had was awesome as we added furbabies (when Leo arrived, Nigel jokingly said, “We bought a zoo!”), and we all lived happily together. And then it all started to change. This was behind my sharing the Memory about going out for lunch, because I was in the moment that day, blissfully unaware that that time was running out fast. And I shared a memory about a perfectly ordinary night (in which I was similarly in the moment) because three days later the changes began.

It’s fashionable these days to talk about “mindfulness”, which younger me probably would have called just “being in the moment” or maybe “living for today”. Then, it was mostly considered selfish and self-centred, now it’s presented as a mark of emotional and spiritual maturity. I’m not so sure.

As I showed this week when I shared ordinary FB Memories, I was often in the moment, but that couldn’t possibly have prepared me for the loss and change heading toward me at breakneck speed. That’s because it doesn’t matter how much “mindfulness” one engages in, absolutely nothing can insulate anyone from dealing with deep loss, and worse, once such a loss arrives, we’ll suddenly remember all the times we weren’t in the moment, when “mindlessness” would probably be a more accurate word. And it’s hard to avoid feeling regret when that reality arrives.

We all—everyone of us—live our lives as if we’ll live forever and nothing bad will, or even can, happen. We’re wrong. As I said last December:
The harsh, cold reality most of us choose to ignore is that we’re all going to die. It’s the only thing that’s certain about life: Birth itself isn’t a certainty, and neither is anything that follows it except for death. We’re all in a long queue leading to the exit from life, but we just don’t know where it is or how soon we’ll get there.
My family is now half the size it was two years ago, and I know more changes are inevitable. That includes my own death, though I won’t have to deal with the aftermath of that, at least. Still, I can’t possibly know what will happen when, because we can’t, and so maybe what I said today is the core reality: I’m still here. Maybe that’s all that matters.


Roger Owen Green said...

I really hate to bring this up, but this is the 15TH POST OF THE MONTH. And it's only the 15th in NZ.

Arthur Schenck said...

Really? I hadn't noticed! 😉