12 April 2003
My Sophie-cat died yesterday morning.
It is of course inevitable, an absolute that we will outlive those who love us; it's an inherent condition of being alive, and we pass it on like a baton at our deaths. I did think, I had allowed myself to think that it would be easier when the one who died was a cat and not a person. I was wrong. She occupied the same space, in a literal and a metaphorical sense; she lived with me, she slept with me, she refined my understanding of what it is to be loved. And, of course, I adored her. Her dying has ripped away one of those skins we grow, to shield ourselves from the world; sunlight dazzles me, I flinch from textures, everything's immediate and sharp.
So what do I do last night? I go out and party. This seems to be my pattern, some kind of pack-instinct, perhaps; I did it when Andy died, I did it when Quin died, every time I lose someone who really matters. My mind crawls off into some darkened space and pulls the world in after it; my body just tries to get drunk, first alone (half a bottle of whisky, and the afternoon in the pub) and then in company. There always seems to be a party somewhere. Last night it was my new friend Joanna; I was determined to be good, and I was good. A little indiscreet, perhaps, but I don't much care about that. And I left sensibly early, while the Metro was still running, so that I didn't have to walk home from Wallsend; and then I settled down with Misha on my knee and finished that bottle of whisky, and then I went to bed. Sober. I don't know what it is about crisis, grief, what kind of chemical the body pumps around, but it kills off the alcohol in me distressingly fast. There's no law that I know of, that says you have to deal with this stuff in a state of brutal clarity, but it seems to be true none the less.
When I can work out the technology (how to slim down a massive jpeg file into something manageable, with the software that I have), I'll post a picture of my Sophie here.
In her late years, being Queen of the Undead, my beautiful zombie-cat. I suppose she's gone off now to be Queen of the Dead. The question was raised yesterday, whether people are allowed into kitty-cat heaven; we decided that they must be, at least a few, or what would shoulder-cats have to ride around on? That was the hardest moment this morning, going downstairs for the first time in many years without a cat sinking her claws into my neck, rubbing her chin on my shoulder and making polite enquiries about what might be for breakfast.
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.