As I let everyone know last week, our cat Baggins died the previous week and we had a very rough few days dealing with the loss but we’ve since been to the rescue centre and have adopted another cat.
Our new monster, and he is a very big cat, is called Sausage and is a really affectionate little thing. We were sure that we were ready for a second cat despite it being relatively soon after we lost Baggins and we’d reconciled it with ourselves that we wouldn’t be sullying his memory by taking on a new cat. We recognised that there are so many stray or abandoned cats that we were now in a position to help another one find their forever home.
We met Sausage and he took to us as we took to him. He is a very different cat to Baggins but there in is our point. By caring for another cat, we’re able to continue dealing with the loss of such a massive part of our lives, while moving forwards. Sausage has been helping us through the grief of loss by just being himself and we’ve been able to give him a new home.
When we all go through grief of any kind each and every one of us will have different ways of dealing with the pain. People have been known to rely on drink, on drugs or on food to take the edge off. Casual liasons on one end of the emotional spectrum to turning to family for help on the other can all help us conquer the issues we have in our lives.
For us, the act of welcoming Sausage into our family was an act of catharsis. It allowed us to move through the pain towards the acceptance of the loss of Baggins.
When I write, I use the story I’m working on as a way to break through any problems I may be having in the real world. I can shut myself away into a world that I’m creating and forget about all of the problems which may be banging on the door trying to get in.
It’s also possible to go one step further as an author.
When I was doing my English Literature A-Level, one of the books we read was The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. Written in old English it was a journey of translation as well as being a piece to study. I enjoyed it and there was a very interesting point which came from the writing itself but which was explained beautifully in ‘A Knight’s Tale’ the film. The characters in the stories are caricatures with the wife of Bath being well described as being a ‘broad’ frame with gapped teeth who was oft married and not afraid of going after what she wanted but it’s the characters of The Pardoner and The Summoner who get the lashing.
Chaucer gives his opinion on all manner of things which would have been going on around him, making comment about religion and gender roles to go for two of the biggies, but is happy to swing his eye onto a great many other details. He draws images of what was taking place at the time and makes comment through his work, as so many writers do. And it’s this point which gives us the line in the film which I love. Deftly delivered by Paul Bettany, we’re treated to, “I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.” We get to see that a writer will exact a revenge on those who have wronged them and turn those poor souls into creeping and shuffling beasts. The brutality of the real world can be re-written to place the bully under the boot heel and we authors can be happy in the knowledge that we worked through our issues while turning our tormentors on their heads.
We all have problems which rear their ugly maws on occasion and it can take all manner of weapons for us to beat back the pain. As a writer, I have an incredible well of resources to help me keep my mind together should it fracture and putting those most awful people to cross my path into the most delightful agony is wonderfully freeing.