the other day, little abe (the one who gave me the framed poster of the ‘bad’ cover) asked me, with his wide eyes, if i knew you were dead. how he asked me was between curiosity and assurance. as he saw the little michael, he wanted to be sure i knew you were no longer here on this earth. i don’t think that’s the first time he’s asked me, but every time he’s asked, it’s been different.
it’s always difficult to reenact in your head the day a loved one leaves this earth… despite knowing everyone has to go, watching the process happen before your eyes does not make it any easier. taking a look at videos of people spending time with their friends before they left this earth, brings me back to the day i watched my friend holly leave.
she was 8 years old, and had a form of cancer- pulmonary carcinoma. lung cancer, basically. she was a beautiful little tortoiseshell cat. she looked like this:
when we met, her name was ‘advocat’. not ‘advoCATE’, but advoCAT. with that, i did a little test to see if she was happy with that name. she ended up choosing holly.
we spent 7 years of companionship together- she even traveled on the plane with me when i moved from the east coast to the west. she sat not in cargo, but underneath the seat in front of me. she was so scared she kept crying… she was so happy to be out of the bag… she was a bit skittish and moody, but very friendly when she got to know you. and she would let you know if she liked you. she didn’t talk a lot but was very expressive. she didn’t like to sit on laps necessarily, but STAND on them. she had these beautiful, really large eyes. i called her ‘big eyes’. she had beautiful, large eyes, like yours.
she was always a sickly cat. i met her because a friend at the time knew i wanted to live with a cat. some friends of hers were not able to take care of her. they were feeding her more commercial food, and i chose not to. i gave her the best food i could find. she got ringworm, tapeworms, got sick sometimes… but i loved her just the same.
i was at work one day when i got a call from my house-mate, saying that holly was throwing up a lot. i mentioned that it was fine, since she threw up hairballs and such. my house-mate said this was different, and that she was vomiting more than usual. we took her to the emergency room, and they could not figure out what was wrong. i tried feeding her raw food, but she wasn’t eating it. her illness progressed quicker than i could ever imagine. one day she was eating, and the next day she wasn’t.
i took her to a veterinarian, where he discovered her cancer. at the same time this was going on, i got in that bicycle accident i had mentioned to you last time. i won some money from that case, and this helped me to actually move, as well as pay my and holly’s bills.
holly was rapidly losing weight because it hurt her so much to eat. the doctor said that if she were to have an operation there may be little chance of her survival, since the cancer was so far gone. whenever i picked her up, i could feel the tumor. it was hard, and as big as a softball. all this was happening as i was in the process of moving again. i felt like she was trying to tell me she didn’t want to move anymore, and that i should just let her go. letting her go was one of the hardest decisions i ever had to deal with. i didn’t want her to suffer though.
on the last day of her life, she had pretty much lost half of her body weight. she was about five pounds. she didn’t like to be held too much really, but i held her so much in the last few weeks of her life. it broke my heart to take her to the vet for the very last time. a man i knew from the community drove me there. he was very supportive.
i remember the day like it was yesterday. they let me have my last few minutes with her. we took pictures, and i told her i loved her. i don’t know if she heard that, because she was suffering so much. as they injected the needles into her, it felt like a stab to my heart. i wanted to leave, but i wanted to be there with her. they walked me through the process as it was going on. they spoke about her heart slowing down from the first needle. the second needle would cease her breathing. when i watched her take her last breath, it truly hurt. her eyes remained open after her last breath. i lost my dear friend. they let me have another few moments with her. i touched her and she immediately felt cold.
i broke down.
i could not go to bed in my room the night it happened. holly rested there with me. i miss her so much. i have her ashes. i am not sure how there are people who don’t recognize the bond between non-humans and humans. they have feelings too. it hurts so much to see our friends go, just as it hurts to see our parents, siblings, aunts, cousins, friends and other human loved ones go. to watch a loved one in the PROCESS of leaving is one thing- a VERY LARGE thing. but to see them actually GO, it is something you never forget.
holly left this earth on 17 july 2004.
being that i am one who cannot live my life without a cat companion, i knew that this would eventually happen; i just wasn’t sure when.
lumbia and i met on the 19th of march in 2005… she was a bit skittish at first, then she warmed up pretty quick. she is extremely talkative, loving and friendly. in terms of her name, i did the same thing with her that i did with holly. her name was ‘roxy’, and i called out that name, just as i called out ‘lumbia’. she was more responsive to… you guessed it.
lumbia is a burmese cat. here is what someone who looks like lumbia would look like:
cats have been wonderful people in my life; sometimes better than humans. i love and appreciate their independence, their honesty… for years, i have aimed to be one of those ‘old crazy cat ladies’- i want to live in a house with 10 cats.
you wanted 10 kids, i want 10 cats.
i tend to waver back and forth between whether or not i want to live with just the cats, or spend my life with a human companion (with the cats, of course). i want to be one of those old ladies, when the kids are older and have moved out of the house, to always have cats around. i mean, it would be nice to talk with someone who speaks the same language as me sometimes. on a deeper level though, do i need to spend the rest of my live with someone to do that? ALL living beings (mammals, anyway) desire some sort of companionship . i don’t think most people my age seek the same or similar type of companionship i seek.
many people my age are seeking a mate, if they do not yet have one. people my age are having children or focused on maintaining some sort of ‘career’. i’m more of a wanderer. i don’t seek a mate; i don’t seek to procreate, and i don’t seek to have a prestigious career and make $50 thousand a year. i love children very much and want very badly to be a mother; but how many women my age (who don’t hate children but want children) have no desire to give birth? i’d probably focus so much on the children and/or cats that having a mate would have the potential of being secondary.
i keep talking about this, but it seems to circulate itself in my brain. i am the same age you were around the time you were either doing or had finished/canceled the dangerous tour. so yeah, i am clearly giving my age away. i am at the age where someone like me SHOULD be having children before it’s too late, right? i am essentially coming up at the end of my supposed ‘fertility window’ before the possibility of complications arrive.
according to this study, i am already at the end of it:
The speed at which female fertility declines has been highlighted by the first study to track a woman’s supply of eggs from conception to the menopause. The average 30-year-old will have just 12 per cent – barely an eighth – of her eggs left, the research shows.
“Women often do not realise how seriously ovarian reserve declines after the age of 35. Every year that goes by you are losing a big proportion of your ovarian reserve.”
so we return to the concept of ‘death’: my eggs continue to die by the second, every time i make it less of a possibility for them to be fertilized.
i keep thinking about what you said, about wanting to know what it was ike to have a ‘real relationship’ before you left this earth:
“i want to be with someone- i want to know what a relationship is all about before i die… i’ve never had a real relationship. my brothers have all been married, my brothers have had girlfriends; i haven’t really had that.
what am i gonna do? i don’t want to die without knowing about having a real relationship with a woman or being involved.”
listening to the frustration in your voice just breaks my heart. it was like a man whose time was running out- whose ‘biological clock’ was ticking. a man who, despite all the people around him, has never known true love.
i have a question though… what actually comprises of a ‘real relationship’? clearly, you were speaking about having an intimate physical (sexual) relationship with someone. is that all there is to it though?
i’ll tell you this- and this is at risk of people publicly reading this- i have felt the same way as you, for many years. i cried many nights, thinking i would never find a ‘real relationship’ in my life. that no one would ever want to be with me, that i would be alone for the rest of my life. truthfully, i still DO think i will live out the rest of my days without human companionship. i admit that sometimes it stings. the difference is, i don’t worry about it so much as i used to. i’ve learned to be okay with it.
again, what i want out of a companionship i’m not sure if others want that. so i have learned to see that there is an inevitability in me ‘being alone’.
i admit, as old as i am, i’m still extremely naive in the way of these types of relationships. i don’t know anything about mating rituals, how people really get together… how people approach each other. i was much older- it wasn’t too long ago when i entered my first ‘real relationship’. he actually was not the first person i was ‘fully intimate’ with- in my first experience i was also older than most people i knew… in this situation i was also taken advantage of, but not abused or violated… i reciprocated because i was scared. both of what might happen and of never knowing what it would feel like. i’ve always had it in my mind that i’d live out the rest of my days alone- the old cat lady. i can pretty much count on half of a hand my full-on ‘sexual experiences’. i told you, i am very naive. to this day, i still wouldn’t know what to do.
my first incident with a male though, i was 8 years old and it was a sexual assault by another kid. this essentially lodged in my mind for many years an image that males were violent and disgusting.
with the ‘real relationship’ he was much older than me. MUCH older. he taught me a lot (and i thank him for that), but i think he also sensed my weakness/naiveté, and took advantage of that. he became extremely possessive and abusive. he was mostly emotionally/mentally abusive, but there was a point where it almost became physical, and i had to leave. towards the end of the relationship i began to just eat and eat and eat. i remember him making a comment about it, but i never even put an equation together that my eating was trying to cope with just living.
at this point, even though i empathize with your plea, over the years i’ve empathized with it less and less, because again, i don’t think i will ever be in a ‘real relationship’ that will be based on love or equality. i think it will be too based on trying to primarily formulate a sexual relationship, when that’s not what i want at all. and even in the course of ‘liking and falling in love’ with people, i wonder ultimately if i actually liked them, or if they brought a sense of security in me that i otherwise did not feel i’d get anywhere else. i’d feel incredibly insecure because the feelings were never reciprocated. well, all that’s done now. i don’t really have feelings for people right now. it’s better that way. the pain of all those feelings are too much (and triggered a lot of the ‘self-harm’ over the years), so i’m glad i don’t have feelings for anyone.
i acknowledge the defeatist attitude in this, but it’s not something i see in my life. i see so many people i know in their relationships, and i don’t even really get sad anymore. i quite like it with just me and lumbia.
i’m getting angry actually… i’m getting triggered again, and i don’t want to be. the scars from last time haven’t even cleared up yet. i’ll try to promise i won’t do anything- but don’t hold me to it.
um… well. i went ahead and did it. i told you not to hold me to it. and even though it was relieving, it did not feel as ‘good’ as it usually does, because i felt you were judging me. it was as if everyone was judging me. it made me feel horrible, actually. it feels good to see the scars there… to see my flesh in the process of changing as i’m doing it; but at this moment i feel like i am being judged.
and i thought i was feeling better…
i am a very private person and don’t really speak about this aspect of my life really, to anyone. the sex, the ‘self-harm’, or any of it. somehow, i feel that writing this and putting it out there in the atmosphere may help someone. i don’t know why… maybe it’s just helping me. who knows?
well, back to you.
it’s also difficult for someone who does lead a life of chastity before marriage (such as yourself) to work in a profession where promiscuity is encouraged. i’m sure that was VERY hard on you, especially with people casting aspersions and assuming your sexual history and preferences. i have been there- i empathize, as people make similar assumptions about me. however, i am not under the microscope of media and a fan base.
there were the two sides to you, in terms of ‘performance’ – the ‘peter pan’ and the ‘sensual/sexual’ state, which may have either been rooted in some sort of teenage ‘arrested development’ of first exploring the opposite sex… or! it may have been a reaction to how your fathers and brothers treated women. that’s not up for me, but for you to say. these two ‘performance’ or public selves were so extremely mutually exclusive, people felt they had no choice but to create conclusions based on their perceptions. AGAIN, EVERYONE experiences this up to a point, but your persona was so hard to define… (and it shouldn’t be, right? i mean, you were a pop star, and EVERYONE had to know every amount of information about you!) characteristics had to be conjured up in order to achieve a level of social comfort.
so here’s my little contribution to that: the ‘peter pan’ mode was a form of disassociation in relation to the abuse you endured, and the ‘sexual/sensual’ persona was your trying to work through all the social mores of ‘normal’ society.
even with that i don’t think i’m totally correct. the plea for you to know what a relationship was like before you left this earth sort of proves me wrong. still, i can’t help but see your plea and your public ‘sexual’ persona as being mutually exclusive. the public persona had tinges of scorn for women- it was as if you were channeling the males in your family in some way, whereas the plea was pure desperation to know what love from another person feels like.
i think it would be incredibly difficult to be with someone like you- i am just being honest. not only because of your status/fame- but because it’s difficult to deal with anyone who has been through any sort of deep abuse. it’s difficult to deal with someone who is focused on business on one end, but has the mentality of an adolescent boy (most likely due to that abuse) on the other end. really, how many people would put up with that after a certain point? some, but not many.
i know for me, i’d be a very hard person to be with, because of my interests and personality, and my connection to abuse. i acknowledge being a better friend than partner. i don’t see myself as being ‘wife material’. it would be nice to have that tiny little cottage somewhere far away from the city, where we just have the little fruit and vegetable market down the way… with the 10 cats. you know, like:
I do dream of distant places
Where? I don’t know now, but it’s destiny…
If it’s the rich life
I don’t want it
Happiness ain’t always material things
Give me the simple life
I’m getting away from here
Let me be me
C’mon let me feel free
And what the city offers me ain’t naturally
I look to greet the stars but there are no stars to see
I’m gonna search this world until I find my destiny
i’m still wondering if that’s there for me… and yeah, it WOULD be nice to share that with someone, with the cats… even with all its problems, where i live now is better than where i USED to live… as much as i love new york (as it USED to be) it’s no longer that way. and i love the personalities as opposed to just being there in the city. i love the community aspect of it.
and where i live now, even though i gripe over the human relations issues, in terms of living, it’s much cleaner and ‘healthier’. and less crowded. and simpler, i suppose.
living here though, it can be as lonely as ever. again, i have learned to just be by myself and be okay with that, because everyone else has got their companionships, their families, their groups near to them. i don’t necessarily fit anywhere. yes, i do have friends, but sometimes i feel like i don’t fit. and again, those friends have their own lives- their relationships, etc.
with that, i no longer plea with anyone about this whole deal.
and i do hope, either if it was with lisa marie, or someone else (or even wherever you are now) that you have found someone you feel you can be close to, and feel at home.
and you were fortunate to have had three wonderful children in your life. i’d say that was your ‘realest’ relationship of them all.