i have, for some time now, been considering what to do.
when my grandmother passed away this past september, i was understandably drained.
i had lived with her as a caregiver for a couple months in the beginning of 2013. starting in april, with rotator cuff repair surgery, she spent the next several months in and out of the hospital and rehab centers. along with the slow recovery from the surgery, there were broken ribs and kidney failure. there were medicine allergies that became continuous, serious problems because doctors didn't speak to each other and updated charts weren't always actually updated. in the end, though, it all came down to congestive heart failure.
watching decline is never easy. it's one of the most difficult aspects of life that we all must face. we can hope for peace and comfort, but no matter the circumstances, mortality is always present and life is always finite.
but there's more to this story than just contemplation, grieving, and the dose of ennui that arises in us all after sitting in hospital rooms and hallways for weeks on end.
our lives are, in essence, holistic systems. they are extraordinary webs of interaction, of physiological function, of seamless multiplicities of emotion, of societal (dis)connection, of cultural constructions, and of endless moments that pull us along through life.
in all of this, grief can be a difficult concept because this web does not pause. and while it can be overwhelming and consuming, it is not a singular entity. it is buffered by humor, by love, by anger, by frustration, by compassion. it is all of these things, but is not a sum of those other emotions; it is a product.
and that web is still a moving network fluctuating in the wind.
we say life goes on, but that implies that it stopped for a moment. action and attention are diverted, but truthfully we never stop until the end. and even then the holism of our lives is not concluded. there is the comfort of atoms and molecules, that even gone we are not gone.
we go through our lives with enormous thoughts and truths. it's so often easier to push those thoughts to the background, to let it be the static crackling in the late night silence as we plod our way to sleep. but sometimes we have no choice but to confront these thoughts and realities head on.
very shortly after my grandmother passed away, i started a new job. i met new people at work and in my private life. people i know my grandmother would like. it's an understatement to say i love my new job. i love the work i'm doing, i love the environment i'm in, i love being around my field and being able to talk to people who think the same sort of thoughts i do. in four months, i've had one bad day at work, and that was mostly because of a frustrating phone call.
on my first day of work in the beginning of october, our family cat, kira, died. her decline had been very sudden, but not.
for a very long time we had been taking care of her － giving her fluids and vitamins, keeping her a on strict grain diet － and it had hit a point of normality that it was almost possible to believe we could go on like this eternally. i would slowly herd or carry her (depending on how well she seemed to be moving that day) up to my bedroom every night and she would sleep in her cat bed or on the heat vent in the floor. occasionally she would irritate my phebe cat and sleep on the foot of my bed. and every morning, kira would plod her way back downstairs for breakfast. near the end, the first flight of stairs down became too steep for her to manage, so i would carry her down to the landing. i could have kept carrying her forever.
in december i went to cardiff, where i presented my master's thesis at the "drinking dilemmas: space, culture, and identity" conference. i met more people, i toured the city, and the only pictures i took were inside the doctor who museum. this past month i received confirmation that a book review i wrote for the journal food and foodways has been received by the publishing company and will likely be published soon (three years after i wrote it, but still...).
in all this time, with all the good and the sad, i have not been able to write. i have just a handful of chapters left on my novel. i have the research for the theoretical academic paper i want to explore piling up around me. i haven't even been able to write slow mail letters to my friends － one of my favorite late night, going to sleep activities. and, of course, i have not written in the garden. words haven't eluded me, i just haven't wanted them.
last month i renewed the domain name for the site. this month i'll be renewing our contract with squarespace. for the past few months, i've been watching my own creative decline, and i haven't liked it. and with that decline has come a sort of decline here in the cactus garden.
i do not know how long i will want to keep this space, but i understand the life of this world is finite, too. we're not at that point yet, but it is a serious contemplation that will remain static in my head for at least a while more.
am the elder is working on some posts for you over in bloomeria lumiere. i will, as time allows, begin a slow return here and over on the books page. seeds will return. we will find our way again, at least for some time. but we will maintain our prerogative to disappear when we want or need to, for however long we need to, and when we return, we will not apologize for being away.
decline is part of us. it is nurture and nature. it is organic. we have seen decline and we, ourselves, have declined. but, more importantly, until the absolute end there is always the chance for resurgence.