Opening My Heart to Books (and Cats)

Ok, that title sounds really melodramatic, but I’m going to try to explain what I mean. First, though, some background: a couple weeks ago, as some of you may know, my mom’s cat passed away. That was obviously far harder for her than it was for me. But that cat was still part of my family for a long time. And also, losing him called back a lot of the emotions I had when I lost my own cat, about two and a half years ago.

I’m not going to go into detail about that here. Not now, and maybe not ever. In short: he was my cat for 16 years, and I loved him, and failed him, and missed him terribly, and now, two and half years later, even if the edge is off those feelings (for the most part), they’re still there. I’m not mentioning this because I need comfort, or anything. I just feel like there should be some context for this statement, made around that time, in my journal:

“[Book title, which I’m not going to name here, because it’s not fair to an enjoyable book] is not big or encompassing enough to fill the sad empty place in my heart. But I’m not looking for that right now. I’m looking for fun, easy, quick reads with happy endings, I guess. I chose [this book] because of that–because my mind can’t latch onto too much right now.” (For Future Emi: that’s on July 30th, in the plain brown notebook, because I know you’re going to care about that. Moving on.)

I’m not an expert on grief, but I think that was a reasonable reaction at the time. My heart was just so badly bruised, which sounds crazy to anyone who’s never had a cat, but it was. And it got more badly bruised as the year went on. (Suffice to say that losing my cat wasn’t the last bad thing that happened that year.)

Somewhere in between all of that, and picking up my own writing projects again (which typically don’t leave a lot of brain space for other people’s worlds), I suspect that keeping a certain distance from books got to be habit. Not to say I haven’t read any good books since my cat’s death–I have. And certainly, they haven’t all been “fun, easy, quick reads with happy endings.” But with apathy, depression, and what I now recognize as the fallout of some serious grief still dogging my mind after that year, I feel like my book screening process became a question of how much energy each book would demand of me. How much it would require of my mind and heart. Because I didn’t have that much to give, so I had to be careful with what I did have.

This is all subjective, of course–just the impression I have right now, looking back. The thing is, though, I’ve been slowly coming out of that. And I’m starting to wonder: at what point should I look for a book that’s going to really grab hold of my heart again? Should I look for it? Come to think of it, did I look for that before, or did I just not try to avoid it?

Either way, I think I need to stop being afraid to love books. Because that’s one of the reasons–maybe the reason, as basic as it is–that I’ve always been a reader. I love stories. And if I stay away from books I think I’ll love, then I can’t be surprised when this happens:

Reading Slump

From the post I wrote when… well, the title is pretty self-explanatory: “I’m back!”

Anyway, I’ll get there, I think. I hope. I want to hope? I’m still rather wary, it seems, of getting my heart broken again, by anything. But I think I’m recovering, too. It’s taken a lot of prayer. (I know I don’t talk about my faith a lot here, but I haven’t made this journey without God, and I shouldn’t and couldn’t pretend that I did, because that’s taking a lot more credit than I actually deserve.) It’s also taken time, of course. And it took, in some part, the persistent purring and meowing of a cat who didn’t even belong to me, but who helped mend my heart in ways I didn’t completely understand until he was gone.

I miss him, of course. His death has been a rainy spell on the road. But the good he did seems to be sticking even through that. I may be able, now, to care about books–and even possibly cats–the way I did before. Almost. Getting there. Starting to be ready to get there. To want to get there.

Someday, who knows, maybe I’ll actually blog about some of this in detail. I don’t know if I should. But I hope this post helped someone out there. It does get better on the other side. That’s always been my experience. And it still is. It’s ok if it doesn’t happen right away. It’s even ok if it takes a very long time. Healing can be like that. But it does get better. You start to care again. You start to feel.

So for now, I wish you all some joy and strength, peace, energy, a purring cat if you want one, a good book, and as always, a happy Monday. And thank you, as ever, for putting up with my ramblings. This blog continues to be helpful for me. And it’s probably largely because of how supportive everyone who’s commented has been that I feel like I can post something like this. Thank you all again, and hopefully, I’ll see you all next week with something a little lighter!

Gallery

To Oregon and Back Again

Last week, my mom’s much-beloved cat passed away, so this weekend, looking for some different scenery, the two of us took a trip to Oregon. I’m not quite ready to talk about the cat on this blog, and honestly I’m not sure if I will be any time soon (or maybe ever), but Oregon was lovely. There’s just something about the forest, all those towering trees, and a beautiful sky overhead.

A few wonderful things about Oregon, on a very quick pass through (part of) the southern edge:

  • I hate to sound like a broken record, but the scenery really is gorgeous.
  • No sales tax!
  • They pump gas for you, which I’m sure is quite nice when it’s chilly or rainy outside. (Although the weather was pretty good this time through–very little rain, and not as cold as it could’ve been.)

Of course, there is something to be said for California, and the sun, as well. So wherever you live, I hope you’re all having a splendid Monday! And that if you can’t travel at the moment, you enjoy these pictures from a weekend on the road.

 

I may be a little distracted.

It was delicious.

It was delicious.

Sorry about the smudging. As noted, I’m a little distracted. I have story on my mind, which would be excellent if it were the story I’m supposed to be working on, but when is that *ever* what happens?

I do hope to have another post up early next week, either Monday or Tuesday, but we’ll see how that pans out. Busy weekend ahead, etc. And you know, smoked cat. I mean fish.