I'm sitting upstairs in my bedroom, on my bed. Several books are open around me, and I am reading a story online, but my attention is diverted by the cat.
We've taken to calling him The Cat, the capitilizations implicit - an appellation frequently given to my old cat, Prince. Barnabas is playing with a mouse, a gray ribbed mouse made of courdoroy with a leather tail and embroidered eyes, stuffed with catnip. It is his favorite toy (well, that and the similarly fashioned blue mouse). Watching him is fascinating. He carries it in his mouth, lays it down, takes a step backwards and then pounces. He flings it up and about with his paws and twists and turns through the air to catch it. Eventually, he tires of his game and he flings himself dramatically onto his side for a rest.
Soon, he'll make a running leap for the bed, swipe at the laptop screen and make grab for my hair, which is dangling tantalizingly.
He's a funny kitty. Vocal, and demanding as his predecessor. Willful as all cats are, and as most cats are, infuriating, frustrating and heart-meltingly sweet and loving in turns. Quixotic and immeausrably mysterious, his yellow-green eyes sometimes stare at me with knowledge.
I have wondered aloud, once or twice, whether there is anything of my old cat returned in this kitten.
A dangerous thing to contemplate, but those eyes . . .
I wonder sometimes about Gabriel too. Whether his spirit will always be spirit or whether reincarnation is possible and a future pregnancy might be Gabriel returned. Dead baby mamas are of split minds on this idea, I'm no different.
I don't think I want Gabriel to return, because then he would cease to be Gabriel and become someone else - a Frederick or Oscar or Oliver or Noah, possibly even an Olivia, Vivienne or Madeline. And I think I would miss those touches of his presence that I feel now. And I don't want the dead child to overshadow the living, though he will, as all older siblings do; to some extent it is unavoidable. But in so much as it is possible, I prefer for identities to remain separate. I think it is easier for my sanity.
I know I've been aloof, superficial the past few days. Easier to concentrate on the task at hand that way, really. If I think too much, trying to conceive again becomes a frightening spectre, dark and looming. My boggart would be another dead child in my arms. But as I think this round is nearing an end, my thoughts are swirling again. I am thinking again, pondering again.
I still miss Gabe. Not as desperately as I did before. My world was shattered, and now I've eked out a tolerable existence. His loss is ever present, always acknowledged, as one who loses a limb simply gets on with it. It's becoming unremarkable, mundane, even. The strong emotions have faded, for a time. I've no doubt they will return - anger and frustration, futility and impotence, and the heart-rending sadness.
Life continues, and my life is not so bad. I do look at DH sometimes, and mourn the sadness that I find lurking in his face. His mentions of Gabriel are the same as his opinions - infrequently voiced, strongly and closely held to his heart, and capable of freezing me in my tracks. He hurts, separately. There is grief shared and grief kept private. We are the people who knew him best in the whole world, and only we can appreciate what we've lost. And yet, a mother's sorrow and a father's are necessarily different and have their own regrets.
I've been reading, which is not new. I'm always reading, sometimes two or three books at once. But this one, CS Lewis. A Grief Observed. I have long loved CS Lewis as a voice of unshakeable conviction and touching on truth. I may not always agree, but I always find wisdom, and comfort. This little booklet - it's scarcely long enough to be considered a real book - was snippets of his journal from the time of his wife's death, published under a pseudonym later. It is shattering to read my own grief more eloquently splayed out in words, and yet shattering in a good way. A way that strips down the individualities, breaks apart the loneliness and builds me back up into a better frame because here, here is someone who understands.
CS Lewis was angry with God as well. Furious, hurt, betrayed, bewildered. He, too. He, the atheist-cum-apologist, he too was rocked by the loss of his loved one. And that makes it a little more acceptable for me to feel that way. It makes it a little more comfortable to say aloud what I've avoided for too long. I am angry and know not what to think or believe. I don't choose to examine it closely now, but I am comforted to feel less alone.
Tonight, I am curled under my beloved fuzzy blankets, and I am waiting. I am hopeful. I am praying, almost against my will, for this to work, for this to be another pregnancy, another baby, but one we can bring home and raise and love. I am tense and worried at the same time. I wish I could be more open and share myself more honestly. I know I hide now, I am comfortable and do not wish to wade further into the murky waters of the world while I carry only failure with me. I get so tired of having to direct others and smooth the path so that others are comfortable with my grief and loss. Easier, really, to stay only among those who intuitively understand it and squeeze my hand in fellowship of loss.
I am not what I once was, and I wonder often if the change is really for the better. I can only hope. Hope Hope Hope. It always and forever returns to hope. Imbecilic, over-reaching, often disappointing, and yet so entirely necessary to get out of bed each morning. Hope leaves me feeling foolish, and yet I return for more and more, because what other choice is there? Despair? No other choice.
Barnabas has settled into a catnap on the back of the chair - the one Prince used to rest on. He has draped himself in the same way. His eyes look at me, knowingly, and he blinks and yawns and repositions himself again. And I return to my books and my story, and I continue to think, and to hope, and to wait, because there is little else to do.