This is bound to be a messy, all over the board kind of post. Life, in all its wonderfulness, can also be damn hard. I know friends who have family members battling health problems, friends who’ve recently lost parents, and friends who are enduring financial hardships. Life is messy, and sometimes it hurts.
Right now, for me, it hurts. And all because of a sweet little cat. My pets are family members. I adore them. I had a cat for 19.5 years, and losing her was really hard. Devastating. Another cat died at 16.5. Long lives, but not long enough when compared with ours.
Last summer, my beloved Miss Pitty Pat suffered a thrombosis, otherwise known as a saddle thrombus. She wasn’t supposed to live, but she did. She lost a leg, but she regained strength and went on to be her old self again — running, playing, jumping up to her favorite window seat, sleeping with me, sitting on my lap at the computer and my legs on the couch.
But the vets warned us her time was limited. Yesterday, we were jolted by the reality of that. She’s survived seven months beyond her initial episode, but yesterday she suffered another blood clot. This time it’s to a front leg, much less painful, but she can’t use the leg much. As I write this, she’s at the emergency vet. We don’t know if she’ll survive, but of course we hope she will.
I am devastated and furious — because we can’t control life, can we? We can’t prevent innocent children, beloved friends and family members, furry or otherwise, from getting sick and leaving us behind. Life is amazing, but life hurts.
It’s love that does this to us. Love gives and loves takes. I adore love, I write about love, but I know love makes us so vulnerable. What’s the choice though? Not to love? How empty would that be?
This gets me to writing. Yes, it’s damn hard to even think about that at the moment, but I’m in the middle of a book and my characters are in such pain — and I know how they feel. I know that pain always comes from me, even if I can’t understand the precise incidents that caused it for my characters. The truth is that I draw on that well deep inside, that place where I try to stuff all that hurt and anger down, when I write.
I think all writers do. Life and love have given us gifts, and they have taken those gifts away, and we don’t forget. I’ve written about the character, usually male, who refuses to love because he doesn’t want to hurt. Some readers and reviewers might call that cliche. I call it reality. If we could protect ourselves this way, mightn’t we try? Some of us would, and some of my characters do.
Naturally it doesn’t work out for them. The hero usually finds out he can’t stop love, and he becomes so terribly vulnerable when he realizes how he feels about the heroine. That’s got to be scary.
I saw a photo this week of a woman holding her husband’s hand while he lay in his casket. And I thought how sad that was. How awful that she would never see him again in this life. That all those years together ended and she was alone.
Pain. It’s what we write about. It’s what we try to overcome and control, at least in fiction. If you’re a writer, you have to put it all out there. You have to put your feelings on the table, or your fiction will be flat. You want to feel and you want the reader to feel.
That doesn’t happen if you leave your own sorrows untapped. I know it’s hard, but tap them. Mine them. Does it help? Hell if I know. I do it anyway, and maybe I feel better somewhere down the road.
Right now, I feel like hell. I ache and I’m frustrated because I can’t fix this. But I have a book to write and characters to torture and I know part of that is me working out my own feelings on paper. It’s how I cope. I couldn’t imagine not writing for a living, because I think I’d burst otherwise.
I put my heart on the table every time. I give it my all.
And now I’m going to bed and pray my kitty girl gets to come home again. It’s borrowed time, I know it, but I want more of it. Don’t we all?
EDITED TO ADD: There is good news for now — the clot resolved and MPP can come home. I am relieved, and still scared because I know I’m going to lose her to this awful disease. But hopefully not just yet.