The images start around the time the sun sets. I guess that’s earlier now, so in-specific. The images start when I am settling, the kitten purring on the far edge of the bed and the world dimming. The room foggy, my mind bleary and teetering. Then, that moment, it flashes, and I am upright, rigidly awake, grasping at the cat. No, no, I tell myself, she is not suspended by her little furry, fat neck from the ceiling. She did not mysterious become entangled in the cords for the fan, nor has she thrown herself face first out of my 7th story window. I touch her, and am mildly settled. She is a cat, after all, and I am not so far gone. Only that layer of my mind is, that layer that shoves these violent images in, unannounced, unprompted, over and over again, for hours until I relent and take a pill to ease the worry, my cat cooing by my side, unawares. She doesn’t see the terror in which my mind situates her, nor the violence of my fear. She is content, plump and soft. Dreaming of her next treat, while I daydream of more death and decay. If I lose sight of her, the image comes barging in, laughing at me, with the ridiculousness of my terror. I am petrified till I can put her in my sights again. Sometimes, I’ll awake out of a deep sleep to panic, convinced she has died, perhaps even by me, as I rolled over in my sleep.
This new room has not abated my chaotic under mind, the section of my mind that remembers, that only remembers, that is stuck in remembrance gear: be afraid, be afraid, be afraid. Death lies only beyond that closed door, looped around a handle, ready to knock you out. Death will steal, will leave you naked, will lead you into a colosseum so empty it crushes you- the vastness of your isolation bursting you apart. I do not grasp, though occasionally I try to pry up this ugly grey carpet, hoping my old hardwood floor lies underneath, that this all an elaborate and cruel joke. No, I do not grasp at the pain, to bring it closer. To make myself tolerable I keep it all at am arms length, til at last I come “home” and sit still. The stillness corrupts me. Or, no, the stillness betrays me. I think, “now I live in a rather large hotel room”. Dispossessed. Still dispossessed. STILL! It just continues on and on, day after day. I do not know how to be comfortable here. The artwork, the family photos, the new couch, none of it eases the terrible ache, the ever present fear. No rest can be had in a bed I do not want. My dreams translate my mind for me, presenting chaos, destruction, loss, fear. I awake, and in my 3am grogginess I plant my feet on the floor in despair. I still hate this floor, no matter how hard I try. My weary mid-night body allows me to be morose. Do I win this battle? Can I love a home again? Now I wake up every morning to a headache. Again, I think. This, again.
Perhaps you think I wallow, that I cling, but the paths down which I’ve chased contentment have lead me in a labyrinth of circles. I am ill at ease here. I do want rest and honest comfort. And I want a night, please just one night, one fucking night without the image of my cat hanging from my ceiling.
I don’t even know what grief is any more, I am lost here. It continues to be unreal. I’ll catch myself during the day thinking- no, now, that didn’t happen, did it? It seems less like an event and more like a state. I didn’t just find him, I continue to find him. He isn’t just dead, burned up, but he is ever-presently dead. Confoundingly, persistently dead. Maybe some day someone can explain that to me in a way I can understand. For now, my fear and I remain entangled, wrestling for the control.