My cat died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. The world slips through my fingers; I’ve had things to do, quite urgent things even, but I’ve been too fuzzy. I stare blindly at incomplete to-do lists and start crying when a bird lands on a branch nearby. Every time I feel like I can tell people casually about the passing of ‘Balou’, after the first syllables, I have to cut my words short to maintain some pretence of emotional control.
I also graduated recently, but I am not sure when. I got emails at times telling me I was ‘potentially graduated’ and at other times congratulating me on my graduation. I’ve come to believe that I am, in fact, graduated, but I don’t feel very graduated yet. Science apparently believes in me, but I believe less in science than before. Maybe I should celebrate my graduation.
Today I’ve been wanting to go to Balou’s funeral, but I ended up doubting until going was no longer an option. She will be buried any minute now, in the spot in the garden where she used to sunbathe. My parents agreed to send me a video of the semi-solemn ceremony featuring my two parents and a dead cat. I feel strange. I feel very old, especially considering that my cat’s entire whopping 16-year existence fits inside my own. She felt like family, and now she is gone. My parental house lacks its spirit. It has become more like a building and less like a home.
I feel strange. I feel very old, especially considering that my cat’s entire whopping 16-year existence fits inside my own
Next time I go there, I will put a flower at her little grave. I don’t have a lot of experience with death, but I think it will make her absence more concrete. I mean, I know she’s ‘just a cat’, but if I fail to make this significant, then what would be? As time chips away at my foundations, there is nothing left to do but incessantly, aggressively, re-enchanting the world.
Right now, I want to freeze it all, conserve it. I want to build a museum for my life so far and wander its halls for the rest of my days. Right now, I don’t care about the stories, the fantastic journeys I will still embark on, the unknown shores, the inconceivable realms of life-not-yet-lived. But change has taken my cat, just as it has brought her. The sand keeps running through my fingers, and it’s also really quite beautiful.
Luuk Slegers is a Masters student of Sociology, majoring in International Development. He lives on Droevendaal in Wageningen with his five housemates and likes to start the day with a walk through Bennekom forest.