We all cope with grief in different ways. I cry, I clean, and most of all I read.
Some people celebrate spring as a season of birth and rebirth. For me, it’s been a season of grief and this spring added a thorn to that dark garland.
After my brother Joe’s death in 2016, I took in his cats. Quacker Dundee, an old lady tabby, died last year and this week the grim reaper came for Pinky, the Pinkasaurus, named by my brother for her pink nose. I came home from work last Thursday to find her cold form in her favorite spot under my bed.
So I wrapped her in a pillowcase (pink, of course), placed her in an Amazon box for her trip to the cold box and then on to the crematory, and then I cried. And I cleaned. And I did laundry. But I didn’t eat, except for a bowl of grits.
After a while I was too tired to shed tears or clean, so I turned to my greatest solace – books. Not any of the cozy mysteries or well-researched biographies I normally reach for, but the books of my childhood. This time it was Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows and adventures with Mole, Rat, and the Mad Mr. Toad. And those dastardly weasels.
Today, it’s the third anniversary of the death of my old cat Ralph, who picked St. Gertrude’s Day (which is celebrated by more people as St. Patrick’s Day but Gertie is the patron saint of cats) to leave for the fabled Rainbow Bridge and avoid any indignities I might have foisted upon him two weeks later to get a cute picture on his 20th birthday.
So this morning I dusted off his grave marker, sobbed a bit, started some laundry, and headed to work. Now I’m home, weary, eating a bowl of cereal, and staring at my bookcase. Perhaps a trip to Wonderland – but should it be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Alice through the Looking Glass? Oh, it has to be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland if only for the Cheshire Cat! With the Sir John Tenniel illustrations, of course.
That should hold me to Tuesday, which is another sad anniversary. Not for a cat but for my grandmother, Inger Marie Christiansen Hollister. A widow, she moved in with my parents shortly after I was born and stayed with them until her death at 91 in 1983. And if the sorrow bubbles up, I’m not sure what I will clean or if I will cry, but I know what I will read. It’s a story she used to read to me, chapter by chapter, night by night, and then start anew – Black Beauty.
And then I should be good to go back to my normal reading channels.
Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness. – Carl Jung