We said goodbye to her a week ago. Since then I have been working, working, with occasional forays into grief—the conversation with the crematorium, the sympathy cards, looking through photos. I had forgotten about this picture. There are still brown nests in the front grass from where she would curl up. The stray cat who loved her looks for her daily.
As we’ve talked to people, over and over, about losing her and what it means, I realized that the story we’re telling about her is less and less right. That it elides moments when she was awful, or when we were awful to her. She was a difficult cat. Her first owners were rough and neglectful, and oh! how that shapes everything to come. She was, for instance, terrified of feet, and if you walked up to her too quickly she would lash out. One too many times being stepped on or kicked, and we had the marks to prove it, and were often angry and frustrated by her reactions. But that aspect of our shared lives is getting lost in the telling, as are so many others; even her too-big feet (the one flaw in her stunning beauty, or so we would tease her) are now small according to the pawprint mold the vet made for us.
Everything is story. I’ve been reading a lot of articles along the lines of Trump Voters: Why the Eff Did They? and it’s all about the story, the story. People wanted, say, the story about how the US stood up to China, and shrugged off the stories about his bankruptcies and lawsuits. They listened to the story of How Coal Came Back and ignored the story of The Assaulted Women. Everything is story, and it has been for some time. Ever since Reagan (not the first president I remember, but the first campaign I can remember a little) the GOP have been very good storytellers, and the Democrats not so much.
Obama could tell a story. Biden too. Hillary, I am sorry to say, cannot tell a story to save her life, or perhaps it was her campaign who didn’t want her to run the risk, to let her open up and thus open herself to further attack.
For those of us who were trained to think critically, it can be frustrating: how can others not see the big picture, the jagged edges where all those stories don’t align, where they crack and fall apart like the stale lies they are? But critical thinking is a learned skill, while we are all born to storytelling.
There is something I want to get at here, something about truth and the story, something about how we’re losing our real cat for our story-cat, how even if the country crashes and burns in every other way there will be some who still believe the story of the self-made businessman come to save us from ourselves, about accepting this process and working with it rather than against it. But it’s a little too early, or too late, for me; I can’t let go of the edges, of the places where my truth refuses to dovetail neatly with the fiction.