In two weeks, we’ll hit the five month mark of living in the post fire world. Removed some almost 20 weeks from the incident, I still feel a genuine deep and powerful sensation of loss. I’ve lost my cat, my home of 5 years, much of my clothes, and several belongings. My wife and I have replaced what we felt needed replacing and have made a fairly comfortable life for ourselves due in great part to the generosity of our friends, family, co-workers, and strangers.
However, I still feel the pain of loss. Isabella, my cat, died in the fire, and I just have not been the same since. I’ve found it difficult to do almost anything that I used to do. Everything reminds me of her in some small way, and I just think of how she died alone and scared. Now, removed from the danger and reality of the situation, I find myself fantasizing about going back into the fire and saving her and Dante. I imagine a world where we all managed to get out, where Roland and I got the door to the downstairs apartment open and got the fire put out with an extinguisher. I imagine a world where things turned out better because I didn’t think of my safety or the safety of others.
I know that it is just fantasy, that everything actually went the best way it could have. However, it is tough to justify the truth of the moment in the face of possibility. Fact of the matter is, if anything went differently, it would have gone much worse. Some philosopher, I don’t remember who, said that we live in the best of possible worlds, and I just need to remind myself of that perspective.
A couple months back, we chose to euthanize our surviving cat. He was diagnosed with fatty liver disease and had what looked like a cancerous growth near his spine. We were given the choice of feeding tubes, ultrasounds, long hospital stays, and uncertain outcomes or ending it humanely. We made our choice, and Dante died in my lap, surrounded by love. As he died, I gave him the speech from 13th Warrior
“Lo there do I see my father. Lo there do I see my mother and my sisters and my brothers. Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. Lo, they do call to me, they bid me take my place among them, in the Halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live…forever.”
I told him he was good. I told him to be with Izzy. And that was his end. They wrapped him up in a snowman blanket and took him away.
About a month ago, we got a new cat. His name is Cole, and he’s a sweet and likable chap. Some years ago, he was hit by a car and needed to have his tail amputated. Since then, he spent 2 years in the animal shelter. We get along well, and I do my best not to compare him with Izzy or Dante. He’s different than either of them. I dare say he’s smarter than both of them combined. There may even be some babies that would have a hard time competing with him in the smarts department. I’ve started working on his story, and I may share it one day. We’ll see.
One of my friends at work lost her house in a fire. We’ve commiserated a bit, talking about the small things. How when you go to cook, you don’t have the spices you expect to have. How when you think about getting dressed, that one shirt isn’t there anymore. How you just can’t find an electric griddle just like the one you had. It’s nice having someone that understands the situation. While I have many people I can talk to, there are few that I can talk to about small things like that without feeling unappreciative of what I’ve been given, both by people and the universe.
Anyways, I’ve been feeling terribly depressed lately. Part of it is because of the fire, part of it is because I feel fail-y, some of it is feeling out of time and place, and some of it is just me feeling off.
I’ve decided that I need to get back to my writing, so you should be seeing more fiction, more consistently, and more often. My aim is to have a .pdf of good work that I can sell by the end of the year, so please chime in with what you’d like to see from the past and present of my work in a collected, electronic edition.
I think that having a goal, even one this meager, is important right now.