Saturday, August 31, 2019

(Day 5) without Cleo: swimming, ice cream, church and a nice meal

Breakfast with 2 teas...

Mr Husband and I went swimming...he did 20 laps! I however, did 8!
It was good to be swimming.
I woke up this morning thinking about Cleo and praying... 
Did another hard thing today, remember that little bit of ice cream left in the bottom
of the Trader Joes French Vanilla Ice Cream carton? 
Well, I had put it in a small pyrex container in our freezer so I had room for a new
carton of the same ice cream that I bought on Tuesday.
Mr Husband and I ate that ice cream together,
a sort of mourning ritual for me at the very least...

I had, I admit, ice cream 4 times today (one not pictured).
Yep, I am grieving for sure.
Once, when I was in a terrible roommate situation 
(I was young and the other person hurting), I ate a box of 
O Henry ice cream bars (O Henry is a candy bar you can get in Canada)
The snickers ice cream bars are as close to those as I can get
and I admit I love them.  But I also do not allow myself to get them often at all.
However, I did get some this past Wednesday after liturgy and lunch... 

It's funny what one thinks is an extravagant luxury. 
For me it is the candles you see above.
They were either given to me or our neighbours
were giving them away.
Smelled so very good. Comforting; a rich smell, full.
I however I did overheat the bathwater and it nearly scalded my feet.
Oops.  :)  I added cold water and let it cool down a bit... 

Lunch was an enjoyable chicken burger with mayo and a
spinach salad....
I was feeling a bit teary on and off today,
was struggling.
And I had not yet (until tonight) gotten to clean the house.
Had various bags on the floor, not put away,
and these bags + other things kept me thinking I suddenly
saw Cleo out of the corner of my eye.
I guess I am still a bit in the shock part of grief; 
I am still looking for her; thinking I saw her,
that somehow her death, was just a nightmare,
I will wake up soon and then realize, quickly, that I am
sadly, quite awake. 

This darling frame is so perfect, so tiny, sent from England from
Elizabeth and of course I cried.
I know what picture of Cleo I want in this frame.
This one, it will look so beautiful in the frame...

It's from this post.
I will probably print this small picture too so I have 2 I can choose from
(both from the same post when Cleo and I lived in Ottawa)

Of course the frame I will have standing horizontally, not vertically as I have photographed it!
Thank you again Elizabeth, this beautiful perfect frame will be most treasured!
You can see why I named Cleo the Cutest Cat of All of Canada! :)

It was good to be at vespers again tonight...

Mr Husband took us out to eat...
and then I made a (store-bought) blini each for us with French Vanilla Ice Cream, 
Strawberries and a dusting of Cocoa! 
After this, Thank God, I was finally able to get the house picked up.
Laundry done, dishes done, the counters cleaned, the tall candles we buy at
the grocery store soaking to get the labels off,
the coffee table (was just strewn with piles of books) clean.

The only thing left to finish is the candles and cleaning off my writing table.
I remembered what Joy has been writing about, how
after life throws another curve ball, she strives to re-establish routine and order.
She is such an inspiration to me, esp. as her own battles can be so fierce. 
I had a difficult moment when I realized that my external hard drive that I have had since
Ottawa days does not have a whole slew of folders of pictures.
To find them we are going to have to access my old hard drive and/or a 
click free backup machine/box/thing.  
But we don't have time to do that right now.
First, I have our Slava (the dinner celebrating our Patron Saint, Saint Phanourios +
our 7th wedding anniversary next week Sunday 
and I have a menu but it is going to take
some planning and figuring out.
Second, our new yet-to-be-assembled small buffet which we may get to this week.
Third, I am going to NYC (library book due, nonrenewable) Tuesday.
Wednesday Mr Husband works from home.
By Thursday I have to have all the things for the Slava, esp if I do the 
recipe I was thinking of, as the meat marinades for 2 days. 
Friday is clean-the-house-before-Company-Comes-on-Sunday
plus bake whatever I need to bake and know exactly what I need to prep
for Sunday.... since we plan on going to our far-away church that Sunday,
which does not leave me more than 4 or less hours to be ready.
The good news is that I have Cleo pictures I need for now,
and am hoping to get them printed soon...
This is SUCH a relief.
For the record, I did watch one Perry Mason episode this afternoon.
I am hoping to get back to my dreams, goals and routines but September
I am visiting a lot of family too so I will need to be flexible 
with myself on what is reasonable to accomplish. 
I am hoping to blog about Cleo for the next 40 days, 
which is a set time (not that grief is done that's not what I mean by set)
for grieving a person in the Orthodox church,
now I KNOW Cleo is a Cat, my Cleo Cat, and not a person.
I get that. 
But I think for the purposes of grief, 40 days is still a good thing.
That makes a lot of sense.
One of the things I have to keep accepting about my grief over Cleo is that
there are going to be a lot of people who are well meaning but 
don't understand what Cleo meant to me, how much I loved her or how many 
stages of my life she was with me for.
And I just have to accept this and not get bothered by it;
just know that there are those in my life who DO understand
and that my Mother is one of them, who when Cleo was dying, told me 
that it was normal to feel sorrow and that it is to be expected. 
I am thankful, grateful, for it all.
I pray that whoever is reading this will find Christ,
and the comfort and hope that is in Christ,
no matter how difficult the situation one finds themselves in.
May God bless, sustain and help us! 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Day 4 (without Cleo): Swimming, blue skies, homemaking and quiet

These first days without Cleo are full of doing things for the last time.
Cleo's bowls are washed.
I put the rest of the food that was in the glass jar 
(the food and water dishes, the matching set + the jar for food 
were from Cleo's first owner/carer... I am going to put some special
Cleo things in the jar...and save the bowls as well... 

The roses we got for Cleo (3 went with her burial, we were going to get
the rest blessed on Dormition but I forgot to bring them to church.)

Cleo's food area is empty other than the very last of the dry cat food
that she spilled off of the tray...
We may set up the new buffet this weekend, we shall see.

I went swimming, last normal swim of the summer
(weekend + holiday are different hours).
I did 8 laps (I think, I lose count sometimes).
It was a really nice swim...

I was very glad for this black decaf tea (I find I need 2 tea bags full for
one teapot) and vegan chocolate and vegan Russian cookies...

Mr Husband brought home some beautiful flowers.
I wrote this Thanksgiving list earlier today:

Thanksgiving list. 

1. That I understand more about grief, that one needs to deal with it "head on" as much as one can. When one feels sad, go through the feeling, tears, etc. Then, in time, one will feel OK again. This will happen numerous times, just go through with it. 

2. That I had my Cleo Cat for 13 years. 

3. I talked with my Grandma and Mom on the phone.

4. I went swimming. 

5. Pots of tea, vegan chocolate and cookies. 

6. God's mercy

7. The hope we have in Christ
I got 2 sympathy cards on the loss of Cleo today
(both from friends in the States) and that was really meaningful.
I watched Perry Mason (again, I think this is going to be a theme for a while).
It's going to take me a bit to get the wind back in my sails.
I have more to do but I find that I really have to pace myself.
I did get a lot of laundry done (washed, dried, folded).
I did almost all of the dishes.
I ordered a teapot after discussing it with Mr Husband
(we make all choices like this together, which is just as I like it).
I can't wait to show it to you.
It matches one of my special sets!
Will tell you more DV when it comes so it's a bit of a surprise :)
I am really happy (other than the pool closing) that it is labour day weekend.
A long weekend with my Sweetie Husband... 
Soon I will be planning our Slava in earnest (it's in a week Sunday!)
and I am really thankful for that.
I am also really thankful I have my library in NYC.
That is helping me a lot so that I am not always home...and
not only does it get me out of the house, but I get some good walking in too.
I really liked this:

Image may contain: text

And this one too:

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text that says 'Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. Corrie ten Boom'

I had a good talk with Mr Husband about grief
and how it is something to go through and that one must not
be afraid of the feeling of sadness.
I am thinking a lot about grief.
One of the things i have believed for years is that one really needs 
to respect that people grieve differently and that some cry, some don't at all
and everyone processes it differently. 
I cry, think about it (often in form of what I would write about it
either in blog or essay form), look at pictures, take pictures of everything
and pray according to what I am able.
When the pain was/is really bad, I am just a puddle of tears and can't pray much at all.
More like "Daddy" "Help" "Be with Cleo" "I miss Cleo" "Help me"
and that is OK. 
It's OK that I have cried during evening prayers the first nights and asked
God repeatedly to take care of Cleo. 
I also had to accept/come to terms with the severity of the loss.
I have not been in such deep pain since Aunt Elaine died in 1998.
I think because it is so intense (at times, right now I am feeling peaceful and 
listening to Bach to drown out drum-music from neighbours) I have
confessed here to feeling like others will not understand
(which of course is true, some won't understand) and that I can struggle with a 
type of denial, like it is such a deep wound/loss that I can't always admit it to myself.
But here's the key:
with grief whatever is at that moment is ok.
The main thing, I think, or as I see it at present, is to not get 
"stuck" in one level of grief (denial or anger or deep sadness) but to see them, 
feel them and move through it to whatever is after the feeling.
It's tricky because the moving through the feeling does not mean denying it -- 
or stopping it.  
I cried today (at home is safest I find to do so) and cried until I was done crying.
Not prolonged but not forced to stop. 
It took me a long time to get to this point.
I used to be afraid of my feelings, esp sadness.
I just did not know what to do with it.
Now I don't run from it. I accept it. 
And I accept that I can feel confused/mixed up/like I am failing.
I love the book by Cynthia Voigt titled Homecoming.
In this book is a long journey of 3 siblings alone, homeless,
and the brother wakes up, when they are wandering exhausted, he opens his eyes
registers their situation and says something like
it's still the same.
That's where I am right now.
Sometimes I am sad and crying, other times
I am just aware of the difference.  Of the loss. Of Cleo not being here.
Like one can smell something new in the air,
or feel that something is still off and can't be fixed.
Still the same.
I am SO GLAD I am where I am in life when I lost Cleo.
I see so many blessings amidst the sorrow.
There is a lot of sorrow and suffering.
May Christ be our light, our comfort, our sure hope in times
of sadness, sorrow and distress.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Church, Lunch and Brighton Beach in NYC

I went to church this morning for the new calendar
feast of the Beheading of St John the Baptist. 
It was beautiful... I so wish more were there to see and even
be in awe of the beauty that is so clearly present...
Then a friend and I had lunch and then went to Brighton Beach...
which I had not been to before, it's in NYC near Coney Island.
We went to the beach first and then to various Russian shops.
The beach was nice, but typical beach, except that I don't remember
seeing men (middle aged or older and thin) being so incredibly tan that their
(white) skin is almost burnt black... seems so unwise with skin cancer being a 
serious health issue that I know family and friends have had!
I liked the beach, the sun shining on the waters, the waves...
the children playing...
I read an email while sitting on the sand about grief and Cleo
and felt that newly familiar wave of sadness...
I looked out at the waves and sought to be absorbed only in the beauty of them...
I ate a soft-ice cream cone like I had not eaten in days... 
I found Russian cookies that I had been wanting; 
and I got some blini; I felt blessed to have the treats;
grief is so weird; I am struggling with worry that others will think it 
strange to grief the loss of a cat for more than 3 days.
What does loss mean? 
My Mom told my Aunt H that Cleo died and she cried; 
(did I say that already 
yesterday?) ...
I told my friend S today and she teared up; 
my friend L. (also at church) was shocked.
What does grief mean? 
What does it mean that Cleo's quiet present sitting nearby me
or being petted by Mr Husband at night while he is doing his exercises
no longer happens?
That we threw away her litter box? That I am going to pack up her food bowls?
(I am keeping them).  That I am figuring out in time who to give various things to 
that we don't need as we don't have Cleo.
That I loved Cleo so much and she was there for 13 years of my life
and so many seasons of my life.
what does it mean to not know what form of comfort
 I will have now that I don't have Cleo? 
For various reasons, I am not sure we will get another cat,
at least while we live in New Jersey, which we think will be for some years yet.
My friend Z. was over a few weeks ago and commented that we could have a second
buffet (small one like the one the star lamp is on) where Cleo's food station is.
And now Cleo is gone, I looked, the buffet was on sale (which often means
it is being discontinued) and I (with consultation of Mr Husband) bought it
and we are indeed putting it by Cleo's food station, in place of it.
I hope to have a nice picture of Cleo there...
I want it to be small... simple... I hope to pick a picture soon... 
I was worried, last week, about possibly going to Brighton Beach today
as I was worried that Cleo would be alone while so sick
but she's gone and I went to the beach... 
I got some really special jarred honey and blue and white Russian tea towels...
I have various moments of tears or near tears...
I find grief hard, but somehow I am relieved when I am sad about
losing Cleo... but I am also glad when I can look at pictures of her
over the years here on my blog and not feel
pained as much as remembering...
Mr Husband and I had burgers and fries for dinner
before going home from NYC... I and the subway I was taking 
was late/delayed so we got there too late for dinner at his work...
I am so glad I am home tomorrow.
I pray each of you are being upheld, no matter what your current situation is...
may God have mercy on us!