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Frida Is Dead, and I Am Undone

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September 15, 2017



My beloved cat Frida died sometime in the morning of Sunday, September 10.  I came home from cat-sitting and found her in the back room, in a posture I recognised immediately. She had developed a growth on one side about a month or so ago, and had been on medications in the hope that it was a cystic infection. She seemed to be doing well, but things changed in the last week of her life. What I thought was a natural loss of weight and diminished appetite as is sometimes normal for older cats turned out to have been a harbinger of something else entirely.


I am completely undone, and am facing, for the first time in many years, life without one of my two great loves.  I take comfort in knowing that Toby and Frida are together in molecular form, that Toby, like the big brother that he is, is taking care of his sister, as he did when she first moved into the house he lived in before he came to me (it's a long and complicated story), making sure she felt welcomed into the cabal of cats that lived there.


I am shattered and ravaged and the grief comes in waves. Just as I think I am steadying, I come unravelled again.


In its own way, Frida's death also lends a clarity to what I have always referred to as "our moving forward."  That I no longer have to worry about how to transport her into what I have long envisioned as our new life together makes life less complicated, but it means that I am now additionally racked with guilt. I am surrounded by friends who remind me that this emotion is neither warranted nor necessary, but it is something I have to work through.


I will move forward, but first I have to write an obituary for her alone, as I did for her brother. She was a wonderful, loving, kind, and complex cat and she deserves nothing less. I am also working on a short version of what I've long thought should be a book, "How to Mourn a Cat," on what is entailed in mourning for animals, a process for which we have no processes in place at all, no sitting shiva, no wakes, no funeral arrangements or clothes to wear.


And I have to finish the book proposal, and all the other additional projects that have been on various burners.  The Very Great Secret about my recent Manifesto is that my cats were the real authors.  Everything I am has been nurtured and sustained by them, and I struggle with the feeling of utter and complete loss and devastation that has enveloped me. But I will move through this.


As always, I cope with life by writing inside it and about it.  As I said, I'm working on a couple of pieces about Frida and mourning, but for now, listed below are some short pieces I've posted on Facebook, in the order they appeared.


I'm surrounded by supportive friends, in a myriad spaces, and people have been extraordinarily generous and kind in coming forth with help.  If you are wondering how to help: jigsaw puzzles.  They got me through writing the vastly complicated manifesto, and they are helping me literally put together the pieces of my life as I move on.  I've listed them in my wish list, here but if you have any unopened ones, especially the smaller ones, lying around because you never got to them, I'd be happy to take them. My tastes in puzzles are...wide-ranging.


I will be back shortly. Thank you for your patience.


Some short pieces on Frida:

Coping, or not.


I still hear her.


Ashes to come.


Frida and the (non)habit of grief.


My wishlist is here.


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