Surviving without support system
It has been more than four years since my wife died and I am still living alone in the same lowly bungalow and sleeping in the same bed she died in.
I’ve thought about moving many times, even started packing up a couple of times, but the will and the energy vanished. And so here I remain, not entirely alone, with my cat Bella — the same pictures on the wall and the same photos on the mantel and my wife’s clothes still in the closet — including the red coat she wore the day before she died. Everything is the way she left it.
Memories keep me going. And I have my responsibilities — looking after Bella, filling her food dish and water dish every morning, feeding the birds, the overflowing bird feeder also providing breakfast for squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs and deer—
—friends one and all, even the gang of garden snakes (technically ‘garter’ snakes but I prefer to call them garden snakes) that live under the porch steps.
Surrounded by this wildlife, I am Guglielmo of Assisi, as I have my coffee on the back patio, secluded and protected by the rampart of a rocky hill at the end of the backyard and the towering trees that surround the house. This is a house of Zen contemplation and spiritual reverie.
I like the location of this house — in a hamlet (that’s the official designation; cool word hamlet) — one hour and 40 minutes by train from Grand Central Station in the core of the Big Apple — whenever I want to take a walk on the wild side.
One thing is for sure, I know Bella doesn’t want to move from here. She’s a Zen cat from way back. She loves this house, with its six rooms and nine windows. I wrote about that on these glass pages, how she’s writing (don’t ask me how) her autobiography ‘From Window to Window.’
‘Leave this house for a crappy apartment with maybe one or two windows,’ she said to me. ‘No way, cat daddy.’
So be it. I stay here with Bella and the ghosts of my wife and my son and my two brothers. They join me at cocktail hour and we all get drunk. Well, Bella doesn’t get drunk, but she enjoys the company.
I am aware that by living alone with a cat that cannot dial 911 and where no one ever drops in and where phone calls from distant relatives are few and fatally far between, I run the increasingly age-driven risk of being stricken in my own home and my body going undiscovered for weeks. That bothers me — the indignity of that.
But still, like Bella, I say to myself, ‘Leave this house? Over my dead body.’
15 thoughts on “Staying put in the death house”
This is beautiful. Emotional and my thoughts about a well articulated comment are escaping me due to that.
All I can say is, I relate and understand this ❤️
Also, that comment was from me not anonymous, sheesh
Good stuff, Mich. if you can write about it so beautifully eloquent .. you must be truly sorted up there in the head. Bravo.
You know yourself better than I do, my friend.
—>Erroneous — Ah, yes, it is you. Your comment means a lot, thanks.
Thanks Yassy. Maybe “sorted in the head” today — tomorrow could be chaos inside there; life of a manic-depressive.
—>GP — Some days maybe. Thanks GP.
You are welcome, Mich. I think everyone goes through that life .. makes us stronger I guess
Mich, you were, and are comfortable there. Her spirit is with you, and always will be, in a good way, also with Bella. You had a choice; pack and run, or live your life, even though there will be sad moments and brief meltdowns. Both my wife and I lost our sons so we do know grief and how we chose to go on, fighting every day. I commend you for your choice, Bella cat too. Take care.
This kind of emergence out of our complex mechanical cognition is what makes life interesting and sometimes worth living. But such emergence is rare. I congratulate you Mich.
Thanks Phil. I’m sorry to hear about your sons. You may have commended me too soon because tonight has been a bad one for me, health-wise, maybe some sort of reverse psychological reaction to the post, I don’t know, but gotta stick with my decision.
Yes, I do believe my wife’s spirit is with me, giving me courage.
Thank you, Kam Ran.
Thoughtful, moving and wonderful offering, Mich! thank you!
And I Thank you.