Of Grief and Travel [en]

[fr] Retour d'Inde, et je pleure mon chat comme il y a un mois, après une sorte d'interruption où le deuil a gentiment glisser sous le tapis. M'habituer à son absence alors que je suis ailleurs, dans un contexte complètement étranger, c'est une chose. A la maison, cela va prendre nettement plus de temps.

As all of you must know by now, my cat Bagha died just ten days before I was due to leave on a month-long trip to India, my first “real” (understand: three weeks or more) holiday in many years. It’s been a horrible, horrible loss for me — and if at this stage you’re thinking “just a cat”, switch to “11 years of life together”. I cried every day until I left, and was still very upset when I arrived in India.

Ready to Pounce

At some point, in India, I stopped crying. Different context, people around, not much privacy, but mainly, I think, lots of exciting Indian life and people to keep me busy. Over a month, I had plenty of time to settle down in my holiday-life over there — and holiday-life and travel clearly never involved having Bagha around.

When Bagha was alive, I would miss him when I was travelling. The first days would be the worst, and then I would get used to it and stop thinking about it. After a few weeks, though, I’d be really looking forward to seeing him again. It was part of what would draw me back home.

So, maybe I was just following my normal travel-pattern here too.

Coming back has been really hard. In all honesty, it feels pretty much like I’m back to where I left off before my travels. A few things have changed, though — the work of time: I’m not in shock anymore (I’ll talk about shock in a later post about another recent death), and I don’t really expect to see Bagha sleeping on the couch or on the bed when I enter a room. I still have “where’s the cat?” or “I need to get the cat” moments, though. Many times a day. and I’m going through a lot of tissues again.

I don’t know if this “break in grief” was a good thing — not that I regret going to India at all, and I immensely enjoyed my time there — but I remember wishing I had “more time” before leaving while I was preparing my bags and departure.

Bangalore 142 Fancy Buildings.jpgWhat this trip has shown me, though, is that life goes on. Or at least, that I can rebuild a life for myself. This is very similar to what my year in India showed me: that I could start from scratch somewhere and find friends, have a life, be happy enough. (I write happy enough because generally, that’s how I am — “happy” on its own has not often been a general state in my life, though it’s a regular short-term feeling.)

But life elsewhere without my cat and life at home without my cat are not the same thing.

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1 thought on “Of Grief and Travel [en]

  1. Bien sûr, te retrouver dans le lieu de tes habitudes avec Bagha (au fait comment on prononce ?) ravive la peine immédiate. Et c’est une partie du travail de deuil qui est nécessaire. 11 ans de vie commune, presque toute ta vie adulte…. comment pourrait-on imaginer que c’est facile ? Mais non, je ne pense pas que tu en sois au “retour à la case départ”, tu subis ce qui a été décalé dans le temps, mais tout le reste qui s’est fait pendant ton mois en Inde reste acquis.
    “On s’emmène toujours dans ses bagages” disaient déjà les anciens, ce qui veut dire qu’on se ramène aussi.

    Oui sans doute ça aurait été mieux d’avoir plus de temps avant de partir là bas. C’est aussi mieux que cela se soit passé avant ton départ que pendant ton séjour en Inde. Mais “mieux ou pire”, ça reste une énorme peine. Et si tu veux savoir combien de temps ça dure… quand tu as parlé de la mort de Bagha la première fois, ça m’a rappelé la mort d’un de mes chats, et j’ai eu à nouveau les larmes aux yeux… dix ans après.
    Je n’ai jamais fait totalement le deuil des êtres qui me sont chers, humains ou à quatre pattes. Il y a toujours, de temps en temps, cette émotion qui remonte. Simplement, c’est rare, et la plupart du temps je peux penser à eux avec quiétude.

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