It’s been a while.
If you’ve dropped in while the tumbleweeds were blowing through this part of my online space, I’m sorry I wasn’t here to offer you a cup of tea and a biscuit. Or a gin and cheese twist, if that’s more what floats your boat. If you had been relying on me for party-style sustenance, you’d have faded away to a shadow by now.
And now I’m going to share why I was away. It’s a bit long and a bit sad, so if you have better things to do or just aren’t up for sad, feel free to stop here, with the assurance that I will be around much more reliably in future.
For those who’ve stuck around, here’s the rest…
I’m sorry I’ve been away – for myself, as much as anyone else. I have missed being here, but I’ve been, if I may adopt an Austen-like expression, unfit for company. You see, a few months ago, I lost my dear old dog Cleo, companion of many years, and it made me very sad.
Those with pets, or who have lost them, will understand. Those who haven’t lost a pet will probably find it strange to be so affected by the loss of an animal, but when you consider that she was my shadow for sixteen and a half years, it might make more sense. I hadn’t realised, until she was gone, just how constant a companion she was, especially in more recent years, as she got older and I spent more time writing.
I knew she was old and we were on borrowed time but the end, when it came, was sudden and I wasn’t ready.
I miss her.
And in missing her, I am reminded of other losses and other grief, for friends and family who’ve died and for friends who are sick and who have lost much of what they were, in activity, if not in personality. And sometimes it is hard to shake the sadness.
But life doesn’t take much account of sadness. It goes on and requires me to show up and do things and still try to work on my new projects, because I have reached an age where loss and grief are becoming a much more regular part of life. If I let them stop creativity completely, I will never get anything done. But it can be hard to write happy stories when you are sad. And that can be a source of grief in itself. (Can you see a vicious cycle here? I can, but it took me a while to work it out.)
So although I have thought of blogging many times, and even started posts, I just haven’t been able to muster the wherewithal to complete them and get them up. And of course, with each week (and month) that I stayed silent, the harder it got to come back. It’s one of the hardest things about grief (and depression, for that matter). It robs you of normal contact, sometimes for extended periods, and when you come out of the fog, the apparent neglect that’s gone on can make re-establishing contact hard.
But as another loss recently has reminded me, embarrassment is not a good enough reason to stay away from people and places you like. This one isn’t a personal loss, but one I shared with the world. When Robin Williams’ demons caught up with him, many people felt they had lost a friend. Although we never knew him personally, his genius, his humour and his heart touched us and we were saddened by both his passing and the manner of it.
But I don’t want to say that he lost his battle with depression. Yes, he lost it that day. But he had been fighting that fight probably all his life and he won it for 63 years. That’s not the story of a weak person or one who didn’t reach out to people or seek help when he needed it. And it’s not the story of someone who let fear of being embarrassed keep him away from the people he loved.
So in honour of Robin and Cleo, I have bitten the bullet and come back. If anyone reading this has felt neglected, or missed me, please know that I didn’t mean to be neglectful. I was just doing the best I could at the time. And if you’ve been struggling with keeping it together, know that I’m thinking of you and do keep fighting the good fight. Because there are more people than you know who care about you.
Here’s to sharing a drink with some of them soon!