February 8, 2024

It has been raining almost nonstop for several days now. There were flood warnings and some places got over half a foot of rain. The clouds were thick and dark enough to blot out the sun, and so the air has been almost eerily cool. I much prefer the cold, so I didn’t mind. I am also partial to rain and fog, so I didn’t mind that either. There was another power outage last night, and it reminded me of last summer during hurricane season, when the rain was torrential and felt unending. Selfishly, I have also taken some vague comfort in the gloomy weather lately. It would have felt wrong for every day to be balmy and warm; it has felt like my external environment is perfectly aligned with my internal one.

I am a generally sensitive person, and my mood has always been pretty delicate. Isolating myself from social interaction and online posting helped stabilize my mood (you can’t be upset if there’s nothing to be upset by), but I was still prone to mood swings and languishing in my own indecisiveness, which spiralled into full-blown depressive episodes. I was on many (many) medications for years, but I got fed up and quit them all, because I felt, and still feel, they were making me worse. But even after all the therapy and medication, I still have to tend to my emotional state like it’s a fussy child, and it takes a lot of effort to reign in its tantrums.

So, to no one’s surprise, my cat’s passing has done a number on me. I stopped exercising, lost my appetite, couldn’t sleep longer than 4 hours at a time, started neglecting my planner, and have just been generally miserable. I’ve tried to keep up with my responsibilities, but it’s hard for me to focus on anything these days. I think of Gaia all the time. When I wake up, there are still moments of dazed confusion–she was always sitting by my pillow to greet me with a shrill, hungry meow. So my groggy brain wonders, ‘Where is she?’ until reality comes crashing back. It’s not a great way to start the day. I think of her when I come back from lunch, because I am used to her running up to me as soon as I walk in the door. I used to keep my bathroom door closed because she had a bad habit of knocking everything over, and now that it’s open again, I still catch myself closing it out of habit. At dinnertime, I find myself in the kitchen wondering why I’m there, feeling the dim sense that something is amiss. I stare at my ceiling in bed at night, feeling her absence like a tangible weight on my chest.

I know this feeling will ease someday, but part of me is even afraid of that. To get over this would mean to get over her, and something about that knowledge makes me feel terrified. I’ve always had a bad habit of treating agony as virtue, like my sadness is proof of my love, and I don’t want to wear my grief like a shawl to make excuses for why I’m stagnating–again. So I decided I have to keep moving forward, as impossible as it feels now. I’m not ready to let her go–I don’t think I ever will be, but I am trying to come to terms with the idea that I can nurture her memory and take it with me wherever I go.

I have been strangely comforted by physics and theories of time. Eternalism, also referred to as the block universe theory, posits that the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously and are equally real. Time is more like a static block where every moment is fixed and coexists, rather than a linear progression in which the past is something that “already happened” and the future is something that “hasn’t happened yet.” Einstein has a famous quote from a letter he wrote after his friend and collaborator died: “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future only has the meaning of an illusion, though a persistent one.”

I think this comforts me because it taps into a very visceral fear of loss. I’m terrified of the idea that everything I love is temporary and will eventually disappear from this world. But if the past is happening right now, alongside both the present and the future, then perhaps there is nothing to fear. Nothing is lost, because it is still happening. Everything happens simultaneously, and our constructs are just a way to make sense of it. I know many people find eternalism unnerving because it implies we have no control of our futures (if the future has already happened, then our actions feel pre-determined), but even this is incredibly comforting to me. My life already happened, will happen, is happening. In this model, true loss seems impossible. How can I lose anyone, or anything, if their existence coexists with mine in a dimension unseen?

Today, the sun has finally crept out, and I’ve remembered that I like the sun, too. Its warmth feels like a salve. Licorice was laying in our driveway sunbathing, and when I pet him, his fur was very warm, a far cry from his miserable drenched existence the last few days. He purrs very loudly when he’s pet. It reminds me of Gaia, who also had a loud purr. The kittens have recently become very attached to us. They weave in between our legs, lay on our feet, and regularly break into the house like little burglars. Nutmeg is constantly biting me and scratching at my arm, as kittens are prone to doing. When she tires of attacking me, she moves on to her brother, and the two of them tussle until they get sleepy and start napping together.

There have been a number of updates among the stray cats, but I think I’ll save them for a more robust update post. I have begun to feel like perhaps the kittens are uniquely meaningful to me because they remind me of Gaia and Juno’s litter. I never mentioned this in the original El Corillo post because I thought it was too sad, but Nutmeg and Licorice were originally part of a litter of four. Two of them went missing, and I don’t imagine they were adopted. Gaia and Juno were also part of a litter of four, and we only adopted the two of them, leaving their two brothers (black and white, one looked quite a lot like Licorice) to be adopted by someone else. It feels poetically cyclic, and so I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a brick and mortar business (a cafe–cliche and probably doomed, I know) and living on the upper level with the kittens and Butterscotch. When I’m very sad, it comforts me to think that future is already happening, coexisting with this moment of my grief. They are all on a catio, scratching at their posts, napping on sills, and chewing on cat grass, while I am downstairs taking inventory of coffee beans with a screen in my office so I can keep an eye on them. I’d like to think so.

My mother is skeptical of my cafe idea, and to be fair, there are a lot of reasons to doubt it. But I think I’ll do a little more research, see what’s viable, see what’s next. Because there has to be something after this, just like there was something before this. I’m thinking of burying my head in boring work to save up money for whatever my next step is, and perhaps when I look back up, everything will seem a bit more manageable.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me well wishes and condolences. I think this world is full of a lot of kindness, and I hope to be the sort of person who can conribute to it. I had more to say here, but I think I’ll leave it alone for now, and start with cleaning up the kitchen. There’s a lot of work to do.

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