Tortoises and Sympathy
First off, I uploaded my video of Tortoise Descending a Staircase onto You Tube. I had to change the music because I really didn't feel like entreatying the remaining Staples Singers for permission to use their music to accompany my cute pet movie. So if you watch it again you'll find that the music is now "55th Street Boogie" written by Hound Dog Taylor and performed by Frank Goldwasser, aka Paris Slim. Jack produced the CD so to get his permission I just had to turn my head 45 degrees and say, "Do I have your permission to use this song?" So the asking was easy, though I'm sure I'll end up paying in more ways than one. (More information about the CD can be found here.)
Secondly, I wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who wrote a note of condolence or left a comment about Katie. It was really hard to read them without choking up, though a week later now it's getting easier.
I have to say, though, that I got one of my favorite condolence e-mails the other morning from Michelle (you know! Michelle), and the reason it's one of my favorites is that she followed the same template I normally do when writing a note of sympathy, which is to be sincerely sorry, and then to say something funny about the person who died, and then while wrapping it up to start amusing yourself by writing whatever pops into your head and then realize that you're very sleepy. To wit:
"I was so sad after reading your blog again after a few months of
eating blackberriestrying to finish a poorly translated Borges novel.
RIP Katie. Maybe she is playing with Steve Irwin. Crikey!
Turtles have more personality than a lot of people give them credit for. The fact that the tortoise seems to follow you around trustingly is better than a good credit score in my humble opinion.
I've heard dogs really like the way they smell and will carry them around in their mouths. No, not credit scores. Turtles. Hopefully this will never happen with yours.
What do you think of stuffonmyturtle.com?...I think it has potential.
I'm supposed to be at work in 7.5 hours. This is not good. Not a good way to end a condolence letter at all. Dogs carrying turtles around in their mouths. Emily Post is fanning herself in dismay."
I think it's a sure bet that at the very least Emily Post flopped over once in her grave, but, you know, fuck her.
The day we put Katie down I put on some tinted glasses to hide my red-rimmed eyes and went to Chaucer's to buy Jackson this book. (I picked it mainly because it had no mention of heaven, God, angels, etc.) Then, of course, I was the one bawling all the way through while reading it to him. He seemed so uninterested that I almost took the book back to the store, but a few nights later he asked me to read it to him again. This time when we were done he pointed to my cheek and said, "Just one tear." I had also had several tears running out of my other eye, which I pointed out to him, just because that's the hell of being my son, having your mom one-up you during the saddest week of your life so far.
But the book eventually served it's purpose because it turned out that Jackson did want to talk about his feelings and he had plenty to say. Those who remember this post may be moved to learn that one of Jackson's most wrenching regrets was that he hit Katie so much. At one point he cried, "It's all my fault!" I immediately assured him that treating his dog's butt like a bongo drum did not cause her to grow a cancerous mass around her heart, but you know. Great religions were built on less logical premises.
So Jackson's trajectory through grief has been fairly normal. We started with denial ("I'm not sad at all!"), then anger (acting out and being kind of a dick), general sadness, and the other thing until we ended up where we are now, with sporadic non sequiturs in the middle of other activites, à la "I miss Katie" while I'm putting his shoes on his feet before school, "I'm still sad about Katie" while eating Goldfish by the pool, and "I still love Katie" pretty much any time he has a chance to think quietly. I tried the old "You can take all the love you had for Katie and give it to Cookie," but Jackson said, "No, the love I have for Katie still belongs to Katie."
So he decided to give Cookie some love of her very own.
The little smartypants.