Does death lose its trauma and sting after years of paranormal investigations and data collection of afterlife evidence? I rather thought that I had undergone something of a transformation after the amazing experiences of late, the voices on tape, the strange and fleeting visions, the oddities on photographs and the apparent communication on various ITC devices. Have I? As many of you know, Ty and I recently lost our beloved cat–who was more human than cat, ask anyone who met him–Kenny. I wondered, as I came to the realization that he was truly dying, how the experience of death would be different this time. I am not going to answer that now. Soon . . .
Before I come to any conclusions, I want to answer the questions that many people have asked me: have you seen Kenny? Have you felt him in the house? Right after he died, the house seemed very dark and uninhabitable to me. There was a fog around it, a kind of heaviness. We found all kinds of reasons to stay away from the living room and Kenny’s Corner. When I finally forced myself to spend some time there, a few odd things did happen. There were loud thumps by Kenny’s box, and knockings around the house. While playing with Nod on the rug, one of our two remaining felines, I noticed her stop dead in her tracks, puff up, and follow something invisible to me across the room. She seemed confused, stopping our game for a few moments until she regained her composure. Later that night, I was standing in the bathroom and the lights dimmed dramatically and then blinked several times. Then, in spite of the extreme Valley heat, I was engulfed in a freezing cold spot where I was standing. It lasted 30 seconds or so, and then dissipated. The lights are still behaving strangely in the house, blinking and dimming for no apparent reason. There are loud thumps at night that send me running to look for the source, and I never find a cause. The noises in the house are different, new. I don’t know what any of it means.
Is Kenny a ghost now? That would be my preferred interpretation, but I really don’t know. I am not willing to make the interpretative leap. I asked him for signs, and there have been many odd occurrences in the house–but what does any of it mean? It could be my own uncontrolled energy manifesting itself, or it could be Kenny’s energy bouncing around the walls and floors, looking for release or simply expressing itself in a rather chaotic way. I did see a Monarch butterfly the day he died, and according to a reliable source, those butterflies are not supposed to be in the San Fernando Valley this time of year. But yet again, I am confronted with the angry inner voice, the disappointed and furious child who lost her beloved pet and would trade a million lousy thumps in the night for one hour of lap sitting involving the actual, physical being that radiated such love. There is no love in blinking lights or cold spots. I hear Kenny meowing at various times when I know that’s impossible, but those meows are memories, or mind tricks, or glitches in the time/space continuum. They are not Kenny. I have no idea what I am experiencing, but all I know is that it’s not proof of anything and it doesn’t comfort me.
Death is scary and makes me sick to my stomach. That is how I’ve felt since Monday–nauseated. His burial brought the only moment of peace: his body, stiff and cold, was utterly NOT KENNY. Therefore, if Kenny is not that body, then he IS something else. That something else has either vanished, or it has taken on a different form; I do not think what made Kenny who he was–is–has evaporated. Ghost hunters know when they walk into an active place that there is “something” there. You simply KNOW, on a physical, visceral level that you are not alone. Later, you will probably discover voices on your recorder or capture strange movements on video, or carry on a conversation through ITC. You can’t say exactly what or who has contacted you, but you know that you have not invented it. The same thing has happened with this death–it is really not an absence, because there is a feeling in our house that the other cats have captured and that has enveloped me since Tuesday. I now intuit Kenny’s presence, but I can’t comprehend it or document it (yet). I am still angry that his physical self is decomposing in his grave, and that I can’t enjoy his warmth and affection. However, he seems to continue a kind of existence. I could say that all I care about his body on the sofa, but maybe I have to allow him to find his own way in a different place.
Have I lost my fear of death? No, not completely. Ty said that if he lost his daughter or me, he would simply stop breathing. That’s how I feel. I don’t know if anything can replace the physical experience of love. I don’t understand affection when it’s untouchable or unreachable. I could demand that Kenny show himself, or do something more obvious so my grief doesn’t overwhelm me so often, but one can’t make such demands of the soul. There is no burning bush, no certainty, no comfort. At least, not yet. Maybe that will come later, when all of this doesn’t hurt so much.
My grandmother died in 1999. We had a complicated relationship, but I loved her deeply. I grew up with her. Even though I’m not supposed to make an active effort to contact her in our house (Ty doesn’t think such activities are safe), I have tried. All I want is something from Nana to let me know that she is happier now than she was before. Nana doesn’t really want to communicate with me. Maybe she can’t, or maybe she’s just gone altogether, and I can’t accept that, because it’s too scary and too depressing. My faith these days seems tenuous and fragile. I was doing well until recently, and now I am starting to doubt all of my after-life philosophies. I wonder if I am deluding myself–is there really convincing evidence of anything comforting? I’m not so sure.
Do I trust my feelings, my intuition, the data that I have collected? Do I believe that I am not someone who invents things, because I’m creative and terrified of dying? Do I discount everything I have experience simply because I’m upset that Death stole my sweet companion? I think my emotions are too out of control to be objective. I want the people who abandoned me to come back. I miss my family members who disappeared into a place I can’t see and can’t visit. I feel like a teenager again, screaming at the pointlessness of life if it ultimately comes to nothing.
I know that’s not the real me. It’s just the me in pain. It’s the me that associates Kenny’s loss with all the other losses–an entire generation gone, a divorce, a realization that I am marching down a path to death along with everyone else. This mood will lift, and it will all make sense again. It would help, Kenny, if you would purr in my lap just one more time. Try hard, buddy–maybe you can still do it.