A couple of days ago I decided that I had seen enough quotes by Joan Didion,
I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. – Why I Write (essay originally published in the New York Times Book Review in 1976)
and I was going to find one particular book of hers. I called Don Stewart at Macleod’s Books and he told me that he had a copy of The Year of Magical Thinking for $17. I bought it.
My intention in buying the book was not as successful as I
thought it would be. My purpose was to wean myself from my increasing addiction
to my phone, particularly in the morning when I check on CNN and four Argentine
on-line newspapers. I decided I had to start reading on some sort of schedule every day.
Didion’s and Bachelard’s books are so good that I have to
reflect on what I have just read. They are not mystery books or thrillers.
What makes it all worse is that Didion started the beginning of her book two days after her husband John Gregory Dunn’s death. While I am no Didion she writes exactly what went through my head a few days later after the death of my Rosemary on December 9, 2020.
She writes about the death of her parents and explains how nothing she felt at their loss compared to the grief she experienced at her husband’s death.
Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.
Thoughts similar to Didion’s come to me as a turn off the lights. Gaston Bachelard writes that poetry enables us to daydream. He does not define exactly what he means by daydreaming. When I am thinking, awake in bed is this not daydreaming?
I have a little green book by my bed where I note these thoughts. I wrote, “Do a blog about Didion and Bachelard’s books.”
I cannot blame my phone obsession with my lack of energy to write my daily blog every day instead of in spurts. I do a lot of staring at the ceiling but I can also cite (I do not want to blame) my affectionate cats that they are part of all this. The single most important obligation of my day is to take Niño for his walk around the block. When I turn off the lights and place my hand on them I feel the heat of a living entity that to me is becoming more human by the day.
We tend to define humans as being sentient, perhaps forgetting that the meaning of the word is one of being able to feel and perceive. My Niño and Niña, I am sure, are sentient.
The death of a human, a human I loved, cannot be replaced by another human. Both Rosemary and I understood, although upon the death of one of our cats the only way to deal with the grief was to immediately get another cat.
I have written before that cats have an essence (a Platonic essence from his world of ideas) that I call catness. A cat dies and the new cat inherits that essence of catness and somehow something of the old cat survives into (not in as into suggests that there is a transfer) the new one.
Unfortunately my cats do not replace the company of my Rosemary. But they do provide me with the comfort of a connection that once bound the four of us. When I am in my tub (remembering Rosemary because she loved her tub baths) I sometimes have this sudden urge to loudly say, “Rosemary.” Niño who is near me on the dirty clothes wicker hamper props up his ears and stares at me.
I will never know but I believe there is a recognition there.