Thursday, May 26, 2016

Better Failures

My cat has been diagnosed with kidney failure: she is condemned to die the death I have refused. The first time I heard this, I could not really believe it. It sank in slowly over the past couple of weeks. Every day I see my feline friend of fourteen years grow thin, then ever thinner. She usually curls at the foot of the stove and sleeps. There used to be a little space behind the stove, next to the water heater, a little crawl-in, just right for a small grey house cat to blend snugly into. This "fault" was fixed when the house was re-built after the fire. Now, the tired cat curls up next to the remembered space; I am not the only one who suffers from a palimpsest- double-vision wherein I cannot tell between memory and reality. The fatigue I see her give in to helplessly is the same from before I began dialysis. The bone-sickness, the lack of will to get up, the need for the endless nap: I remember those well. At the time, I had believed that I would not see the seasons turn or my child graduate from college. This was not a doubt or a passing melancholic thought or even a crushing disappointment. It was a fact; I didn't particularly like it, but it was undeniable. I see the same dawning in the cat's eyes.

She lays her head on my sternum to better feel my heart when I pick her up. She stays a moment while I try to make the same sounds I used to make to her when she was a frightened kitten. But she tolerates this for no longer than a moment and not very frequently.

I keep the food within her reach and slip some ice chips into her water: she laps it up greedily. I remember that unquenchable thirst as well.

Death will not be denied, it seems. There is to be no dialysis for my poor friend. With her, I feel that a part of me is dying. I try to live more when I am not with her, and I am with her for only a few minutes a day on weekdays, no more than an hour when I am home. Of late, however, cramps have kept me from walking without limping and my enlarged abdomen never lets me forget that I need to sit down as soon as possible. These, of course, are small discomforts compared to the dimming the cat is being subject to.

As though in sympathy with this dimming, I find myself unable to write.

This frightens me more than the prospect of an imminent ceasing to be ever did. After all, my child has graduated and there are enough people I would leave behind who would ensure that no disasters strike. I am not really needed in any integral way, and the sum of my life has not been so extraordinary that there can be any deep, unhealed mourning of things left undone.

But that is a physical death. The kind I see facing me is worse: it is a loss of self that goes beyond a physical death. I cannot let it overtake me; I cannot imagine the consequences that would follow! This inability is not as simple as lacking inspiration, or not knowing what to write; I am constantly spinning in my head. In a way, it feels almost organic rather than lack of time or material.

I had set out to learn to Read Literature so that I may be better equipped to tell the stories I must tell. Inevitably, I feel as though I have failed in this.

So this post goes out with the hope that these words will lead to others, that a few more stories get exorcised before I feel my own dimming, that this time, like Beckett suggests, I fail better than before, that I can notch these new failures on the wrinkles of my face.

For I do not like the dimming and every wrinkle is a battle scar won against it.

1 comment:

  1. We will fail better together, my dear friend.


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