I haven't known what to say.
Life without Mikenna is really quiet. Not in a bad way, necessarily. For years, I spent nights fretting about her, thinking that every upset stomach was bloat, that a broken nail might lead to a paw amputation, that she would surely die while under for a teeth cleaning. Now that I find myself without the target of my frets, that frees up a lot of mental space. (and I sleep consistently pretty well now, which is nice)
Thankfully, I haven't transferred any of my animal ailment paranoia onto the cats. Yet. I don't know how to say it, because I'm not sure what the difference is in my own brain. But I worry about dogs, and I somehow accept that cats are fleeting balls of destruction and cuddles. I don't think I love Aery and Gwen any less than Mikenna, but there's a definite difference in my brain. It also helps, I suppose, that I reasonably expect the kitties to be around a good 6-7 years on the low end. I mean, yeah, it could be less, but I don't feel like I'm on an ominous death march. I'll try not to think about that too hard, because I like not worrying about the kitties.
My new "thing" is yoga. The local humane society started offering cat yoga (it's just a regular yoga class with cats in the room), and I thought, THIS IS THE MOST SARAH THING IVE EVER SEEN. So I signed up, and I've loved it, despite the fact that it dawned on me that technically any time I do yoga, it is cat yoga, since at least one of the cats is nearby, or involved.
I love the way that yoga feels like it's working all the kinks out. It shows me how woefully unflexible I am, and works on that, gradually. Challenges me, but doesn't completely obliterate me. I feel good at the end, and I don't dread doing it.
My relationship to exercise in general feels different. I didn't realize it, but there was certainly an element of guilt in taking care of myself while Mikenna was around, especially when she was sick. I felt guilty leaving her for the gym at night, and working out at home was always awkward. As soon as I would pop in a dvd, she would hop off the couch and tell me that she needed food. And water. And to go out. And probably to play with me. It was all sweet and makes me laugh to think about it, but when you're trying to do something teh srsly, it gets frustrating. If I did manage to take care of all of her needs before trying to exercise, she'd just decide to join in. Which usually made Aery join in. We've never had big living rooms to begin with, so that was just a recipe for chaos. As much as I loved the exercises in theory, I couldn't really enjoy them with a little herd of paws at my feet.
But now I've realized that I can legitimately try out all these exercise dvds I've accrued, and I'm delighted.
We had a tree branch fall on the car almost two weeks ago. There was a nasty wind storm one night, and one of the trees near the car let go of a decent limb, which crashed into the windshield, hood, and headlight. It also broke a mount of some sort on the inside - the name escapes me at the moment. So, we've had no car for the last eleven days, and just got it back today. I'm a little surprised that I'm not still joy riding around town, because sweet, sweet freedom.
I feel like it's one of those things that you won't understand unless you really get it, but I get so stir crazy sitting at home for lengths of time. It's not that I constantly need to be moving, but I need the option. It's like my brain recalibrates that way.
So, the ill-timed branch incident came a little over a week after we said goodbye to the Jeep. It was bittersweet, because I really did enjoy the thing when it worked. Problem was, it was falling to pieces faster than we could slap them back together. I am not exaggerating - there was a problem every time I got in the Jeep from November on. We sank more than the value of the car into it over the last year, and then HOURS after we changed the battery, the Jeep quit on me right up the road. Maybe the fuel pump. But there was no way we would be able to drive it to a garage, so we'd have to tow it. ($$$) Then, who really knew what was wrong with it, and the way things were going, it didn't seem too far fetched that if we fixed that issue, something new would pop up very soon. It was enough. Too much mental and wallet stress for very little return at that point. So we're a one car family for now. I think we'd like to pay off the car before we decide to take on another loan, but circumstances could always change.
Wednesday was the second annual Gwensday. Since we don't know when her birthday is, we celebrate the day we brought her home. This year, we gifted her a really sweet scratching post that she hasn't really looked twice at, and gave her some extra wet food and love. For her part, Sassypants has alternated between hanging out with us and in my closet. I don't mind, as long as she knows she's allowed to come hang with us, and she's happy. I just put a little padded mat in the closet with her - it contains catnip - so it's probably my own fault that she's in there. But she is definitely a cat who needs a space of her own, and I'm happy for her.
I've been reading a lot. Ten books so far this year - I set my goal for thirty, and I'm reasonably hopeful that I can demolish that. I'm concentrating on the books in my 'to be read' shelf, and finishing up books that I had started and left hanging. It feels good. It's both a physical and mental decluttering. Also, it more or less keeps me from spending more money on books, and a penny saved is ... still a penny saved.
Recently, I ordered Mikenna's ashes ring. You send them a bit of ashes, and they fuse it into glass and set that in a piece of jewelry. Today the little "kit" came - a prepaid envelope and a small jar. So I had to crack open the little metal urn and fish out half a teaspoon of ashes. I want the ring - I've thought a long time about that - but the whole process feels strange to me. For one, it still seems unfathomable that the little ball of westie energy that licked my face raw on a regular basis is this sandy pile of ash. It then feels weird to go fishing around in, well, her, to get a half a teaspoon of ashes. Like, what am I sending off, here? Is it her little head that used to stare at me on my pillow in the morning? It is the tail that wagged ferociously when we came home? The little paws that would gently dig my arm when I stopped itching her too soon? I mean, the answer is probably all or most of the above, and then some. Conceptually, it's weird to say, alright, here, take some of my dog.
The last thing that weirds me out is the little teaspoon. I'm looking at this thing, little traces of ash on it. Do, I, uh, burn it? Am I going to think, oh hey, I used this on Mikenna's ashes for the rest of the time this thing exists? And, you know, I tapped out what I could, but it still had ash residue on it. Like, I just take this out to the kitchen, soap it up, and wash Mikenna down the sink?
It's just all really weird when you think about it too much, which obviously, I have.
I think I summed it up best when I thought earlier that grief doesn't hit me so often anymore, but when it does, it feels soul rending. I feel like I have lost a part of me that is, sadly, intangible. I haven't lost an arm that I can point to, but the loss is still there and feels weighty. This is why, for the time being, I can't imagine bringing another dog home. It still feels like it would be a sorry attempt at filling the hole, and that's just not possible. No dog will be Mikenna, it would be its own self. Still feeling her loss, I can't commit to taking on another dog, making it a part of me, and feeling this loss again. I mean, at some point, sure. I don't think I can see us spending the rest of our lives without a dog. But right now, it's asking too much.
All that said, I'm going to go back and play some Zuma while Matt finishes up season 2 of Daredevil.
Life moves on.