Shades of Grief

Anyone who has ever grieved knows that grieving carries with it a tremendous wear and tear to the body itself, never mind the soul.  Loss is an assault…..

Elizabeth Strout   Abide with Me



It’s been a rough year.  

I have had virtually nothing to say since March of this year.  Unprecedented for a big mouth like myself.  

The older we get, the more the losses mount.  With every new one, we re-experience the old.

My dad died in July.  Handy, who I wrote of in a 2014 post called The Monster, died this last summer, too.  

And Buddy, who I introduced in a 2015 post called Reversal of Fortune, disappeared on November 3.

Of the three losses, you would think that my father’s would have been the most difficult.  It wasn’t.  

He was 91 years old, for one thing.  He had survived 5 melanomas, colon cancer and a stroke.  But nothing lasts forever, especially humans.  He had had a good life, mostly.  By the end, he couldn’t do any of the things he had once enjoyed.  I still see his end as a good one.  He died at home, with drugs, with family nearby.  Mourning seems superfluous in his case.

My sister died of suicide in 1995 and that has taken me a long, long time to process.    

My mother’s death, in 2007, was unexpected and I still miss her and mourn her and probably always will.  

Handy’s death was a surprise.  We met him through our purchase of this property….he had built a porch and fences and finished the basement and we liked him and his work quite a bit, so he built our library and did some other building here.  Nice man.  Didn’t have health insurance, so he postponed going to the doctor when he started to feel sick.  Liver cancer.  Another death on republican hands.  I think about him often.  

It’s Buddy’s disappearance that has had me in the dumps.  A stray cat, a tabby, one of many and that’s what makes me sad.  I let him out of the barn that Saturday morning.  He went off to do his cat things and we never saw him again.  My theory is that he was shot and killed by a neighbor.  Maybe by accident, maybe not.  That Saturday had been a real noisy one, though.

When we got up Sunday morning, and there was no Buddy waiting for food, we split up and combed the property and the neighborhood, calling for him.   He was microchipped.  I’ve posted his loss on missing pet sites.  Every dead cat I see along road sides in the vicinity gets checked out.

I look for him all of the time.


I had to nominate a book for the book club last year and finally wound up selecting Joyce Carol Oates’ memoir, A Widow’s Story.  We discussed it yesterday, finally.  One of the metaphors she used in the book was what she called a “sinkhole”.  These are “places fraught with visceral memory, stirring terror if you approach them.”  

Our property has become a Buddy sinkhole.  The barn, the deck, everywhere where Buddy was is a sinkhole. 

One of the first things I did, after he disappeared, was to put the bird feeders back up.  I thought for sure that this would “work”, that he would reappear. 

Over the weeks since, I’ve slowly taken down his heated huts (one in the barn, one on the front porch), his dishes are all clean, his food still waiting for his return. 

I never had any doubt that he loved us.  I cannot say that about most humans.  My dad, for sure, didn’t love us equally and while he loved “his children”, I don’t know for sure that he even understood me, much less loved me.  

Buddy loved me.  Our Chippet certainly does.  Even the two girls, the indoor cats we’ve had now for eight years are finally demonstrating affection.  Animals can’t deceive, they don’t lie, they don’t try to hurt you.  

I know that when we leave this place, I will leave behind a picture of Buddy, with a note to the new owners begging them to call us if he should ever reappear.


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1 Response to Shades of Grief

  1. Buddy's daddy, for a few years at least says:

    I miss Buddy too; especially his loud purring in your lap, when he tagged along for a walk to the mailbox or during a hike through the woods, and when he played “hide and seek” like a little kid who couldn’t resist revealing himself when I got near. Buddy boy would jump out (“surprise!”) and then calmly circle my legs to say hello and ask for a petting before sauntering off to another hiding spot. He was a constant in our lives for a long time but now he’s gone.

    Sadly I agree; with each new year our losses accumulate. The list of missing loved ones grows and our surroundings become markers of past joys and sorrows.

    Thank you for writing about him and reminding us how tentative our lives are. I’m grateful to share mine with you.

Thanks for reading!

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