It would have been John’s birthday today, 13th November. He died almost 8 months ago, but to me it feels like only yesterday. In that time I’ve gone through various stages – and not necessarily the ones labelled by psychologists. A blogging friend in Chile said something that made sense, that I can consider myself to be over the worst when I can look back with nostalgia instead of pain. I’m still wondering how long it will be before I stop feeling that I’ve been cast out to sea towards some unknown and distant shore.
The legal issues when a person dies are only just being resolved now. There were things of John’s I wanted to keep, and most of the rest were sent to good homes, but there were plenty I forgot about, and they have appeared around the house to surprise me and make my heart stop from time to time – brandy still in his brandy flask; his little stash of 50 pence pieces for the bridge toll; his favourite ginger jellies languishing at the bottom of a large jar; a box with his witty musical compositions; his metronome.
Unaware of all this, I was anxious when I left for work the following morning and I asked my neighbours to look out for him. They called me at work a few hours later when he was found, and we rushed him to the vet. He explained gently to me that there was nothing further that could be done other than to numb his hind quarters and then put him to sleep. I stroked him till I felt his life ebb away.
His ashes will go on John’s grave when I put red roses on it today.
Now it’s just his brother Banjo and me, and we’ve got closer than I ever thought a human and a cat could get. I imagine he’s motivated by anxiety that his remaining meal ticket might get sick and go away too, but I also need him, and we comfort each other. When I’m obviously sad he sits very close and rests one or both paws on my knee. I’m so grateful he’s nervous of other people and is not the wandering type, which I think will help protect him from venturing into trouble as Rusty did.
Blogger friends know I love to write, and it’s a good distraction – I’m perfectly aware that this blog has been silent for too long, and I’m struggling to write a post which is turning out much longer than I expected and will probably have several parts. I’ve no idea if the story of a remote village on the Indian frontier in Argentina in the mid nineteenth century will be of interest, but I hope some will find it so. I’m sure that readers from the North American continent will find it follows a familiar pattern.
I’d never make a good writer of history books – I need to be emotionally involved in what I’m telling you. I want it to shock you as it shocked me, make you laugh and cry as I did. Overall I suppose I’m trying to say “Argentina is a wonderful place; its heart and soul is not what you read in the newspapers. Let me tell you about the extraordinary people who made this land.” (And sometimes about the quirks of my own family).
To finish, I’d like to show you a scan of John’s last birthday card from me in November last year. I had been nagging him about the idiocy of owning a mobile phone and never leaving it switched on. Brought up during the war, the “Don’t-waste-the-battery” litany was hard to break.
Don’t give up on me – I’ll be writing about more cheerful subjects soon. Meantime, don’t forget I’m still working at keeping my other blog going with daily brief entries – Eavesdroppings and Stories – just click on this link.