Kage Baker died on January 31, 2010, at 1:14 AM.
She would have scolded me very sternly for remembering the date, or doing anything that even hinted at memorializing it. She herself tried to ignore death dates. But, having spent a lifetime as commensal organisms (an acquaintance once confessed she had thought we were only one person, called Cajun Kathleen), that’s proven impossible for me to do. And Kage can’t scold me into it, because – you know, she’s dead.
It nagged at me all day yestreday. It’s not the constant hollow pain it was, but it’s not something I ever forget, either. The lack of Kage has become a permanent part of me, a low-level pain like all the other low-level pains of aging. Most of the time, it’s easier to bear than arthritis, or the bad-tempered growling from my malicious kidneys. And then, from time to time, it leaps into agonizing brilliance, like looking too closely at an explosion.
But it’s been 5 years now. It’s gotten almost to the point where I just twitch and go on – yeah, that hurt like hell, but I still need to find the pickles on this grocery list … like putting too much weight on a sprained ankle: it hurts, you yelp, you remember you need to be more careful with that joint, and you limp on.
The only real problem was that I couldn’t write. I just stared at the screen and nothing happened. It’s a little better today, but my mind is still fettered. When this day is gone, I’ll return to life. I just need to sit quietly and catch my breath again.
It’s almost February 2nd – things to do! Time to get out the new candles, and build a shrine to the ground hog in the Lady Chapel. Send up a prayer to Brigid, in any of her manifestations, and be kind to lactating sheep.
See you tomorrow.
i find as the years roll by that I experience, not exactly anxiety but, a growing malaise as Thanksgiving (my father’s “death day”) approaches. I am pre-occupied, and I don’t think clearly. As soon as we’re past Thanksgiving I pop up like a cork and December is full of gratitude and joy. It’s getting to where I look forward to the counterpoint and submit to the week before Thsnksgiving less begrudgingly. It’s been 15 years for me. I hope it continues to get easier for you.
Thanks, Danese. I’ve gotten much better, and I’m grateful for it. I can live with things the way they are – and even work, most of the time. But I think I’ve plateaued, and I just don’t believe all the hype about reaching a point where I’m “back to normal”. I’m not sure I was ever especially normal to begin with … and anyway, I don’t want to forget.
I’m sorry you are in pain. I wish I could think of something more helpful to say. I just hope you keep writing, despite weak ankles. 😦
Thank you, Kara. But honestly, I think this is all perfectly normal for someone who loses family members. All those lists of bench marks and 5-year totals and such are basically Hallmark crap: human beings aren’t wired to forget people. It’s kind of the point of our brains, really. And don’t worry – I am definitely keeping at writing! For one thing, it was what Kage asked me to do. For another, my sister Kimberly is not about to let me stop – she is a wonderful support to me, and my own best brain-storming partner. And the writing is the Very Best Thing: it really is. I couldn’t stop now.
I grapple with a sense of disloyalty – which I know to be absurd – when I do something which might be construed as ‘moving on.’ No, I do not want to forget Mary Lynn or Kage, and now my best friend Georgea. I won’t. Can’t.
But I may now understand how “Men and Ships Rot In Port” applies here. I’m making music a new way with new acquaintances; now I need to move the writing into a higher gear. A publisher expressed an interest in my precis of MISTAKE, a police procedural. I can imagine Kage and Mary Lynn each and together flogging me to apply more butt glue and get on with the draft, as another friend does.
The Big Hollow is still here. Intermittent. May be we just have to make friends with it.
That’s been the conclusion to which I have come, Tom. I have no desire to “move on”, and I have learned to deal with the constant “missing limb” feeling. People do. Why on earth should we want to become people unaffected by the ones we loved? I’ve never been amenable to anyone telling me what I “should” feel, or do or be – in fact, I’m downright unreasonable about it, usually. So, if my adaptation to the loss of Kage makes someone uncomfortable – they’re going to have to live with it, because this is the best way I’ve found to deal with my loss. And I’m better off for retaining a little pain and a lot of memories, rather than smothering her influence on my life in bandages. I don’t die the grey in my hair, and I won’t paint over my scars, either. I may be a public nuisance from time to time, but I’m happier this way.
Although it would be so lovely if I could spell … “dye” my hair, not “die”. Sheesh.
Fookin’ anniversaries. Virtually all of the people I’ve worked with, who have suffered a significant loss, do some hurting when that date comes around. We’re just wired that way and have been, I suppose, since we learned to tell time. As for the rest, all we- your loving friends- can do is assure you that you are in our hearts and minds, there for you, at need. Love you, Kate.