I was going to write a post about how loss is so much sharper than joy. I have cried so many times in the past 24 hours, and yet never run out of tears. I couldn’t remember a time that I’d felt as acutely happy as this sadness hurt. I was going to back it up with facts and statistics about how humans are more keen to avoid loss than to achieve a gain. I was going to say that when you feel loss, it’s overwhelming, and joy can’t ever be as strong as that.
I thought back to a time I’d felt joyful and, in my memory, I saw a flash of sunlight. I remembered the feeling on the first day of the year that feels like summer, when the sun is out and it feels warm rather than cold. I remembered feeling suddenly that my whole body was warm, rather than cold, as if I’d come back to life. And I remembered feeling as though I could soar up into the atmosphere, fly away, rolling and swooping in the sunlight. The memory brought back that joy, and loss faded away, and I felt happy.
So then I was going to write a post about how much joy is stronger than loss, and that thinking of something joyful can help you through the worst of times. But that was this morning, and since then I’ve still felt sad so many times. I still feel loss. The pain hasn’t gone away, I haven’t beaten it.
I thought, for a second, about writing a post about how joy and loss are equal, that life must include both. That joy can help us through the dark times, and that even the most joyful moments must end. But honestly, it’s trite. We all know it, but we don’t want to read it, and it doesn’t help. It just doesn’t help.
Then I remembered, this morning, waking up without my cat on the pillow beside me. And knowing that he wasn’t just downstairs waiting for breakfast, but that he wasn’t coming. He wasn’t in the house anywhere. And I thought about all the things I wanted to do – to cuddle him, and hear him purr, and give him a spot on the bed. I was going to do all those things, but I couldn’t, because he wasn’t there. I was going to… but I can’t. Not any more. I was going to.
And I realised that’s what loss means. All the ‘I was going to’. All the things that should have been, would have been, could have been, now taken away.
He’s not gone forever yet, thank goodness. He’s been at the vets overnight, having oxygen, and the vet hopes he’ll be able to come home today. We may have a few more days together, but not many. I’ll get to curl up with him, and stroke him a few more times, and all those things that I was going to do. With a little luck, I’ll still have the chance. But one day soon, they’ll be gone.
And I know that even in these last few days, even forewarned, I won’t get to spend as much time with him as I’d like to. Life will intervene. I’ll have to cook dinner for my son, do the dishes and laundry, buy groceries. Or I’ll get distracted, reading a book or watching TV, and forget to enjoy every moment of him purring on my lap. Even knowing that I have only a few days left at best, I’ll waste some of them. And I’ll have regrets.
But that time isn’t here yet, and I will do the best I can. I am going to.