Brain Fog, Grief, & the Creative Process
Sometimes, life is just bullshit. It's nobody's fault. It just is. Things happen and it's all you can do to hang on for dear life. And worst of all, it all seems to hit at once, just as the future was starting to look bright. That's what the last month has been like. One moment things were finally progressing with both my writing and my mental health, and then suddenly everything came to a screeching halt.
Those of you on my mailing list may have noticed a lack of a September newsletter from me. The truth is, I wasn't in the right headspace to even consider such a thing. I've also done very little in the way of marketing on any of my social media accounts, be it FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok. And since marketing has a huge influence on book sales, it's fair to say that those have been lackluster as well. So let's get into what's been going on in my world.
On Saturday September 24th, I got a call right around 8am from my girlfriend. She was calling from the emergency vet to tell me that my cat, Jasper, had died. He was only 17 months old. It wasn't an accident. He jumped off the bed, gave a strangled meow, and was gone. It still makes no sense to us as he was so full of life one minute and gone the next. As you can see from the gallery below, he was quite the character.
I called him "my cat," but it's fair to say that I was really his person. When my girlfriend decided she wanted to get a pair of kittens, preferably 2 who already knew each other and could be a bonded pair, I was happy to go with her. I had a friend whose sister had two cats who each had a litter of kittens just two weeks apart, so it sounded like a good fit for what we were looking for.
Within seconds of walking in the door, Jasper was climbing up the back of my leg. It may sound ridiculous, but I can still feel the spot where he jumped up on the back of my calf. I knew right then that if my girlfriend didn't get him, I was going to. Luckily about five minutes later, the tan tabby up above, Merlin, crawled into her lap and fell asleep, choosing her. At that point, everything else was just a formality. These two were going to be our cats, and our family. And they really did spend the next year and a half becoming the best of brothers.
Now it feels like we're all lost in a fog. Merlin especially. He and Jasper really did bond and were as close as could be. It's hard listening to him call out for his brother and knowing there's nothing we can do. And I'm not there as much as my girlfriend is due to the fact we live an hour apart. I know it's been even harder for her because she lives with the silence Jasper left behind when he left us.
It's fair to say that in the past I never understood how upset people got when they lost a pet--especially as compared to a fellow human. Sadly, I understand it now. This little guy wormed his way into my heart instantly and I didn't get nearly enough time with him. Every time I go over to my girlfriend's house I still expect to see him sitting there waiting for me because he heard my car door and knew I was there.
Needless to say, any writing I had been doing before that came to a screeching halt. Even though it's been a few weeks at this point, it's still hard to make the thoughts coalesce. It's like walking in a fog, one that I feel like I've been popping in and out of since the pandemic started. It's the same fog that hits any time my depression kicks in full force. It makes getting anything done nearly impossible.
At one point I had dreams of getting two books out this year. With The Miranda Project dropping early last April, I had hoped to be able to get another one done before the end of the year. That isn't even close to happening. In fact, even aiming for next April seems like fools-gold at best the way things are going.
As if to add more fuel to the fire, my step-mother passed from a long illness earlier today. We weren't especially close, mostly because we didn't have a lot in common other than my father. We came from very different worlds if we're being honest, and I don't know if that gave us the best situation to start with. There's nothing wrong with coming from different places and different mindsets, but it didn't give the teenage kid I used to be a whole lot of incentive to make a real effort. And then I moved away to the other side of the country, so there wasn't a lot of opportunities to build on what foundation there was. You always think there's going to be a chance to make things better. I regret that I'm not going to have the chance now. I'm going to have to live with those choices forever now. It is what it is to an extent.
Needless to say, I don't believe today's news is going to do much to shake me out of my funk. But I appreciate you all sticking it out with me, because I promise I'll have more content coming your way as soon as I can get my head right again. I don't know when that will be, but we'll get there. I do have more stories to tell, I just need to be able to access that part of my brain again.