Looking Back at 2015

A quick glance back at the past year reveals two huge things standing out, and they happened at the same time. The super-awesome: Beth was able to quit working for other people, to work full time (okay, full time plus) at her store, Beth Wodandis Designs nee Fiberwytch. This was a big fucking deal. Working even part time at someone else’s job was a nightmare. While, yes, she could do it, it wasn’t without huge sacrifices on her part. Without a car, getting there on public transportation was an ordeal, and the commute took up most of her spoons. Once she was there, she was more or less okay-ish (providing that you have a low baseline for what constitutes ‘okay’) but the two and from was very taxing, and the sorts of medication she had to take to be functional was starting to seriously and negatively impact her ability to do that safely. By the end there, I was terrified every time she left the house that I’d get a call about her being hit by a car or worse – that’s how brain-fogged she was most of the time.

Beth’s been an inspiration, and a reminder to myself that the way our world is set up is broken for so many reasons. The broken-ness closest to home is how we’re encouraged to allow ourselves to be chewed up, used up, depleted, and shattered upon the expectations of our society to serve it. We’re supposed to work a full time job, for a pittance, and be okay with that. We’re supposed to be satisfied – no, grateful for – the chance to get paid less than a living wage, have crappy healthcare that many of us can’t afford, or can’t afford to use, to work ourselves into exhaustion, to ignore depression and anxiety and crushing hopelessness, just because. We’re supposed to be able to support our families, and when we can’t, we’re blamed for needing assistance, but we’re not provided with education or access to things like birth control without being made to feel badly for that – at best. The idea that we can get ahead if we just work harder is not always true, the deck is stacked, and I say that as a white woman, and yeah, I own the fact while the deck is stacked, it’s stacked mostly in my favor.

I’ve seen Beth struggle with her invisible illnesses, and I’ve seen her prioritize her health above other people’s expectations of her, and it’s been a great reminder that in our lives we need to be selfish when we can, we need to put ourselves first. We need to think of life, at times, as a depressurized cabin, and put those fucking oxygen masks on ourselves before we can help anyone else.

So, she was able to transition to working only on her store, and that was a huge, huge milestone!

We celebrated by learning that our cat Grim Greyling was dying of cancer – and dying quickly. Our vet was out to confirm his illness on Beth’s last day at work at her outside job. The upside to that is, she was able to spend the last few weeks of his life with him, and she was able to be home during his transition from physical cat to spirit cat. Which brings me to the second part of this experience for us – being present for Grim’s transition, for it was very much a transition. We’ve both written about his passing before ; what we don’t write about a whole lot, is how much his transition impacted the whole Nunnery. He slipped out of his body easily, without really looking back. It was broken, it was done, it no longer served him, but he is by no means done with us.

I’ve experienced spirits before. Hell, my life is about experiencing spirits of one sort or another. I interact with Powers on a daily basis, and I have a pretty decent ‘antenna’, for lack of a better term. I rarely experience spirits on a visual level. I’m simply not a visual person when it comes to that – it’s one part fear of suddenly seeing unexpected things (which is behind my alien fear) (no, seriously) and one part I have crap poor eyesight and it’s just not my most immediate way to interact with the Powers.

Grim doesn’t care. Sassy didn’t, either, nor did Angel, but I’ve seen Grim more times since his transition, out of the corner of my eye, super-imposed over his brother, or creating a shadow where there is no shadow, than I can count. It’s not daily, but it’s still at least weekly. Furthermore, his presence is strong. For months after his transition, it was difficult to feel either Odin or Poseidon as much as we were used to, because it was all Grim. They could have amped up Their signal, I suppose, but it was important for us to get used to Grim as he now is, and it was important for Grim to get used to how he now is.

Grief has completely changed Zerk’s demeanor. He’s adjusted to the new normal of happy that isn’t as happy, and he no longer purrs as loud as he used to, not even when I’m touching him, and that breaks my heart. He keens at night, sometimes, and he’s still clingy, even though he’s not as clingy as he was. Neech has moments, but Neech has always been our witch cat, and so he also has moments when he’s obviously hanging out with Grim, too. (We let the boys in after, to spend time with Grim’s body before it was taken away for cremation. Neech stepped past it like it was nothing, to check out the spot on the bed Beth and I both felt Grim move to.) It’s been awful and sweet and heartbreaking and wonderful, and if it had to happen, then this is the best possible outcome. I’m not sure if he’s hanging around to be with his dad (Ilovemydadmydadisgreat!) or to be around Beth. I’m pretty sure that his dad won’t be leaving me any time soon, so either way, I think Grim’s here for the long haul. (And, too, Beth and Zerk have a sweet relationship now, bonding over their shared grief for Grim’s passing). But, we don’t speak of him having died, not out loud. We speak of his transition, for it truly was a transition. We are still a four- cat household, we feel it keenly, and I’m always a bit surprised when we only have to do things like feed three, or flea treat three, etc.

These two things have more or less dominated our year. It’s been extremely hard to grieve Grim’s passing when he’s right here – both because he’s obviously right here and also because our becoming upset about his having died confuses him and upsets him, and so we do it privately. Because he is a cat, despite whatever else he is now, we don’t actually have a lot of privacy in our household. This, I think, makes the grieving process take a bit longer – but it’s also challenged us in our perception of loss and what death means in a way that this has not been challenged before, and so that’s been interesting.

So, we reach 2016 with one fewer incarnate animal companion, though it’s not the one we went into 2015 expecting to lose. (Master Corbington continues to fail at heart failure, and we couldn’t be more pleased about that!) Beth’s store continues to grow, and my modest writing career is also growing steadily, if slowly. I released a novella, wrote a book, and started two other novellas. My leg pain has gotten under control. I wish that there’d been travel, both for myself and for Beth’s daughter out to see us, but chronically ill and terminally ill animals are expensive, and all in all, I think we did okay.

Poseidon has pushed me more and more outside of the Hellenic cultures to study, learn, and grow, and that’s cool. Don’t mind my grumbling as I go.

But mostly, mostly 2015 has been about adjustment, and the redefinition of boundaries between life and death, and reaffirming how important our connection with the spirits is.


6 thoughts on “Looking Back at 2015

  1. You can’t see it, but I’m waving my lighter in the air at your “broken setup of the world” paragraph. Word, sister, word. I’m so happy for your family that Beth was able to make that big, exciting, wonderful step this year.

    You know that the idea of animals even having spirits is a brave new world for me. It feels “off” to say I’m sorry for your loss of Grim (after all, you did not exactly lose him, he is still there!), but I’m sorry for the pain that the transition caused/causes for you and yours. Your poem which you just reposted is beautiful and brought back so much for me…I think the “please please please” is the universal language of grief, uttered by the heart in a tongue that transcends the words themselves.

    As I’ve been told many (many) times by those far more experienced than I am in this department: writing as a career is a marathon, not a sprint. Congrats for the forward movement. The growth may feel “modest,” but it does add up over time, and it is always worth celebrating!

    I hope your 2016 will be filled with more growth, new joy, and great peace wherever the path leads. ❤

  2. Beth never talks about her struggles in the depth that you shared here, and learning the fuller truth of it gives me a great deal of additional admiration for what she has accomplished. It also shines through how much you support and care about her.

    I agree, a thousand and one percent, about the brokenness of how our world functions. I wish more of us could live in a manner that instilled our lives with happiness and meaning, rather than dragging ourselves through the routine of survival. I don’t even want to talk about how pissed off health insurance makes me, or that most of what I can do for the gods on a devotional level revolves around listening to music while I commute to work or lighting a candle before I fall asleep at night. It’s sad, but sometimes solutions aren’t that simple. On that note, I’m so, so glad that Beth has found a better method of living. I’m also wishing all the best for you in your writing endeavors this upcoming year.

    • She doesn’t, largely because she has to be very careful how/where she spends her time. Also, for as bad as it is for her, she’s also aware that it could be so much worse. Especially now that she’s working from home, she is way more functioning than others with the illnesses she’s got. She’s had the ability to cut back on one med that was literally destroying her brain, which has cut back on the fog, which has cut back on the accidents and concussions and all that. So it’s been good, and it’s been a LOT of hard work for her, and I’m so proud of her. I tend toward overwhelmed, so when there’s a lot of work to do, I shut down. She powers through. We’re so different in that regard, and she’s such an inspiration. She’s helped me rewire myself a bit in my reactions. I still can handle as much external pressure as she can, but I’ve gotten better, and it’s because of her.

      Don’t knock listening to music as devotional activity. Anything that gets you to Them and Them to you is good. I cannot stand, and am sorry that it exists, the idea or impression or whatever it is that given by some devotional polytheists (whether its intended or not, I can’t say ; I believe in some cases it may be, but in other cases I don’t think it. Ultimately that doesn’t matter, because the impression *is* present, and we can say that the onus is on the reader to decide what to take from what is shared and talked about, but I don’t know that I agree with that, either) that in order to do X properly, you have give up a ‘normal’ life or make specific choices or do things just so. One does not have to do big, elaborate rituals or festivals or community-centered worship-y things to have the devotional activities “count” more. Hell, writing is my main devotional act to the Powers, in that it keeps me receptive to Them. I do other things that are specific to People, mostly Poseidon, but . . . I dunno. The activity, for me, is living my life open to Him, to Them, and bringing Him into the world more because of it. The activities, the specific activities (for me, yoga sometimes, incense, libations, candles) are just touchstones, reminding me to be rooted in that place.

      We should all be able to live a more balanced life, though. I totally agree, and I hate that we don’t.

      • I think I react more like you, in that I tend to shut down if I feel overwhelmed. I can keep going, but I’m rather a bitch when I do, and the default switch when I’m faced with too much stimulus and stress is to close a door, grab a blanket, and hole up a dark, quiet room until I feel less overwhelmed and panicked. I’m glad to hear that Beth has been able to help you cope in different measures.

        Thank you for the encouragement in regards to music and small devotional activities. It’s a wonderful reminder that devotion doesn’t need to include a grand show of excess to be meaningful to Them. ❤

  3. Regarding the brokenness of our society: preach it. I know I need to hear it; as often as I say how broken it all is to others, cultural expectations still weigh heavily on me. I try to mould myself into the person this culture expects me to be, and it cripples my body even more than I am to begin with, and it’s just not okay. I love that more people are speaking out against it. Maybe it’ll help me get rid of this expectation within myself, if I hear more people talking about how bad we treat ourselves.

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