Sunday, June 4, 2017

Why I Don't Want to Live Forever

When I was younger, I wanted to be immortal. I watched Highlander (the movies and the series) and read about vampires and other immortal creatures. I never understood why they were either tormented and sad all the time, or really really nasty. I thought it was just because you needed bad guys for the plot and happy immortals didn't really lend itself well to a good plot either.

Going off on a tangent: when I was 9 I got a cat. His name was Pizza (silly name, but I didn't come up with it). I loved him very much. He was with me all through my teenage years (which were extremely hard and difficult for me, emotionally). He was a steady rock; his love was always there, always abiding. Of everyone in my life, I could always count on him to approve of me, to love me, to enjoy being around me and with me.

When he passed away, it felt like a hole was ripped in my heart, and all the love I felt for him was hemorrhaging out the hole, no longer reciprocated. It took five years for me to "recover" from the grief. But I had my parents, as I was still living with them. And I had Pippin.

Pippin was a Maine Coon I got because of all the cats I read about, Maine Coons matched Pizza's caring personality the best. I didn't really mean to get Pippin so soon after Pizza died. I was simply visiting breeders to have an idea who to choose. And Pippin chose me.

Pippin was different than Pizza. He was just as loving, just as caring, but he had health problems (it was a bad breeder I got him from) and I took care of him just as much as he took care of me. Our relationship was deeper, more nuanced. Pippin was, quite honestly, my best friend. He helped me with my anxiety and depression and enabled me to function with a fair amount of ease in the "real world." And I did the same for him.

With him by my side, I even felt strong enough (emotionally) to move out into a house of my own.

That meant that when he passed away, it hurt even worse. The hole was bigger this time ... I hadn't known that was possible. Compounding the issue was I had no one. I was completely alone for the first time in my life and I surprised myself by hating it with a passion. While my human friends and family tried to "be there" for me, it wasn't the same. They had their lives and their own concerns and I felt guilty inflicting my grief on them, especially when it didn't get better.

So I turned it inward against myself. Four years and I am still hemorrhaging. Four years and I have new friends--Colby and Apricot and Thimble. Three lovely cats who care for me and love me and help with my anxiety. And I am still hemorrhaging. I'm barely hanging on emotionally. The least disturbance to my routines, my friendships with humans, and I fall apart.

Yet I cannot cry. I rarely smile, much less laugh. I'm isolating myself and I know it's not healthy but losing Pippin hurt so much I don't want to love anyone else that deeply ...

But I do. It's what I do. I'm capable of deep love and I need it. I need the connections. I need the stability love brings. I love my boys, my CAT. I love my parents, my siblings. I love my friends (well, some of them!)

I knew Pippin fourteen years, and the same for Pizza. I've known my parents all my life. How much deeper will my grief be when they pass away? And I'm the youngest of my siblings. If life goes the way it should, they will pass away before I do. I will experience the grief for all of them.

Who wants to live forever? I certainly don't.

When you have lived long enough
and have lost enough of those you love so dearly
that there are more holes in your heart than heart,

You will understand that death is not a foe to be fought,
but instead a friend
to be welcomed in the fullness of time
who will fold you in gentle darkness
and in that last moment

you will know peace.