Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Changes

Six months have passed. How can it be? It seems no time at all.

I have learned that I can't shut out the memories. Not that I would want to, permanently. But at present they have me weeping a lot — more than I did at first, though less fiercely. But they will crop up, and can't be denied, which of course is only to be expected. So I am getting the knack of allowing them to be, but not dwelling on them. They go alongside me and whatever I'm doing. If I give them my full attention, that's when I'm reduced to tears. Tears are needful sometimes, but they do interfere with functioning, so I don't want them all the time. I haven't fallen in a heap and let everything go, and I don't want to.

So sometimes it does feel as if he's still around, just in the next room, and about to join us any minute. It's never, any more, the feeling that he's really there in spirit; it's just the memory thing, the habit, the illusion. Resisting it does not the slightest good, so I just allow it and don't pay it too much mind.

Levi, who was a bit more Andrew's cat, still occasionally says with his body language, 'Are you sure he's not in his office?' At first I used to have to open the door and show him, let him go in and investigate, but by now it's really a forlorn hope, so I need only distract him. I guess he's experiencing that habit of memory thing too.

The poor cats have only me to deal with now, and I'm the tough parent. Before, if I said no, they'd go to Andrew pitifully, to say, 'She's being mean. You'll say yes, won't you?' and often he would. Now I am the Alpha; it's established. They'll try it on, but I make a loud growling sound and they slink away, subdued. (For a short while at least.)

On the other hand, he used to worry about them if they stayed out too long after dark. He always made sure to call them in at bedtime. I have put in a cat door, so keeping them in against their will is no longer an option. Now they stay out after dinner as long as they want to. They do come back in at some stage to join me on the bed. Freya usually likes to time it to match my bedtime, and gets it pretty right; Levi is ensconced by morning but I'm seldom awake to know when he comes in. Unlike their 'father', I'm not worried about them, and as far as I can tell they don't do much hunting. (When they do, trophies are brought in as gifts for me! It's mostly mice, and I am glad of that.)

In the mornings I can come back to bed after giving them breakfast. I can bring my own breakfast back to bed and read or use the iPad, or wait and have it later after a snooze. Many times in the past, we would lie in like that together, but it didn't happen much in the last couple of years. He was no longer able to keep track of his own medications, and by the time I had checked his blood sugar, given him his insulin, doled out the first dose of meds, made breakfast for the cats and us ... I was well and truly up. Also I didn't have my iPad then, and it was often easier to go to my desk to check emails and Facebook than bring the 15-inch MacBook Pro back to bed. I did that sometimes, but it was awkward with the two of us plus cats. It's lovely to lie in again as we used to do, but now of course I enjoy it alone. Well no, not quite; the cats always join me.

In this house and the last, we usually sat side-by-side at the dinner table, for easier access to the kitchen and sometimes to watch TV as we ate. Ever since he died, I have sat in 'his' chair instead of the one that was 'mine'. If I still sat where I used to, I would be unable to bear his absence — the glaring emptiness of the chair beside me.

I was always inclined to talk to myself, the cats, and various inanimate objects. Possibly I do it a bit more now, still saying out loud the things I'd once have said to him. (How often, when we converse with others, are we really just talking out loud to ourselves?) I don't think I'll worry, unless the inanimate objects start talking back.

We'd got out of the way of listening to music after our stereo system died a few years ago. We did listen to iTunes, but usually separately on our own computers, through headphones so as not to disturb each other. The cheap radios-DVD players I bought us didn't last very long. Now I am out of the habit of listening to music. That is a change I would like to make. But first there's a hurdle to get over.

Not so very long ago I found a turntable to play all our old vinyl records. We were in this house, which means he was already somewhat bedridden. I used to play records in the morning while I was getting our breakfast, turning them up loud enough for him to hear from the bedroom. It felt joyous. Sometimes I danced to the old favourites. To do that now would cause a pang for the togetherness lost, the pleasure no longer shared. It is good still to have pleasures on my own, for myself — but I think I'll start with turning on my iTunes, sans headphone, rather than evoke the bitter-sweet memories.


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