Saturday, July 23, 2011

Can You Write It While You Live It?

Can you write death while you're living it, however vicariously?

The answer is no, not so much; because if you try to write it, it will distract you from living it. And if you write it while you're living it, afterwards you'll have perhaps more exact details put down on paper, but less of the mysterious and twisted workings of memory.

For over a month I've been living with the imminent death of a cat so dear to me that should I ever hear anybody utter any of those off-handed remarks about this being "just" an animal I'd be ready to pounce and kill. But I know that there will be many who think it, as there will be those who shake their heads and comment "Well, this is just because she doesn't have any real children".
People who think that way for me are superficial, crude, are rendering banal the ineffable thing that is grief. Because, it doesn't matter who—or indeed what—is dying; grief is not commensurate with the nature of the person, creature or thing lost, mourned for, but rather with the weight of our attachment to, and bond with, that person, creature, thing.
Grief can only be measured by the weight of its hold on us; the depths it can reach sinking into our skin and bones; the size of the festering wound it leaves behind.

My beloved cat Billie, who I watched come to life, come out of her mother's belly on an early morning of November 4th 1991, in London, England, will die tomorrow of a fatal injection, after for nearly two months we tried all we could to abate the horrible cancer that suddenly attacked her jawbone. She will die just a few months short of her twentieth birthday.

This is all I can bring myself to write for now, but I intend to write about her afterwards, of her eventful life—she has been quite the jet-setter, moving with me from England to America to Canada and then to America again—because, if we can write memoirs of people, who says we shouldn't write memoirs of animals too?