…witchy as she was, to leave us on the dark of the moon.
I had a feeling yesterday, given that I woke up with a terrible case of the shakes, that it wasn’t going to be long, and I was right. Sookie spent the morning in bed, fairly relaxed, in and out of sleep while I worked and puttered and checked on her every fifteen minutes or so, but at some point she came into the studio to lay down at my feet like she always does and while I was having coffee with Renee, she tried to stand up and couldn’t. It was a pretty quick decline from there.
Kimi was here with me as I held my SookieLove in my arms and murmured sweet nothings to her about what a sweet girl she was and how she could let go now – that I’d be okay. When she got through the passage she looked so peaceful, and so angelic – like she was lit up from within. I knew when she left *exactly* where she went and to whom – a story for another day, another place – and that knowledge was a gift.
My sweet, goodest girl. <3
I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening giving her one last groom and nail trim, and it was a really sweet way to honour her passing. I know not everyone has it in them to do that kind of thing at the loss of a pet, but having been through it with Sasha, I knew that it would help bring me some closure if I didn’t rush myself to let her go out of sight right away.
I gave the furbabes some time to investigate her shrouded little body so they wouldn’t have to wonder too hard where she’d gone. Sybil is, well, a cat so she’s pretty unphased by it all but Salem is a wreck. I’m going to be spending a lot of time with her over the next few days, reassuring her that all is well and we’re going to be ok.
I know a lot of you loved Sookie through the screen – through photos and stories about her – and that was felt yesterday as you held space for me on the socials. Thank you so much.
I’m going to take today very slowly and gently. It feels appropriate to strip the bed and make the space a little less “there seems to have been a struggle” and a little more like a sanctuary, but I am going to listen to my body (which is still shaking, bless it – it hasn’t yet gotten the “there is no velociraptor around the corner” message, apparently) and not push it at all.
This loss is just – oof. Her love was unconditional and pure and perfect. She has been an anchor for me for 15 years now.
Thankfully, there are other anchors and I’ll be leaning on them like the dickens in the days to come.
Picture of Salem trying to lick my face off for tax.
TW – Pet Loss
My Sookie is taking her last long walk home and I’m sitting with her while she does it. Today, she’s very quiet, in and out of sleep, no signs of distress, but no interest in anything, either. Her sister, Salem, has been curling up *near* her but not *on top* of her like she usually does (jealous little thing). Sybil has been visiting now and then to touch noses. It’s been very sweet to watch.
I love this wee thing so much, y’all, but we’re ready for this. As soon as she shows signs of pain or distress, I’ll make the call, but I’m hoping she slips away peacefully and easily. She’s given me fifteen years of her very best service as my chief of staff and reason for getting out of bed. I will miss her so much when she takes her leave of me, but I know it’s time. <3
Kimi is going to come sit with us for a bit today and say her goodbyes. It will take as long as it takes and she’ll let me know if she wants help with her passage over. So far, that’s a no.
I am emotionally at peace but my body is acting like there is a velociraptor somewhere just out of sight and it’s about to eat me, so that’s fun. All the shaking. Please pass the wine.
I lost Sasha in 2018, so I know she’s waiting for her. <3
1968 – I will rail against the wreck in the only way I know how. I will howl. I will howl.
1970 – I will assume you don’t really mean to wreck me, but that there is something in me that needs wrecking. I will run my finger over the fontanelle of my baby sister’s skull and wonder as you say “Gentle, gentle”. Does this mean you want to wreck the impulse to harm in me? I would do no harm, but you know best. Okay, yes. I must be gentle. I will wreck all impulse to harm in me. I am gentle. I am gentle.
He puts his cigarette out in my palm. He hits the toilet with the full force of his weight + gravity. He bleeds on the tile while she stirs soup. I am screaming, and she says “He’s just drunk.”
He’s just drunk.
I am soaked through. I smell like whatever you wash the floors with. The blood is pouring out of his head and into his piss while I watch, but it’s okay.
He’s just drunk, and there’s soup on the way.
There’s soup on the way.
1974 – The rape was obviously my fault. You said it, mom. I was a very provocative little girl and he was “very good to us”. You meant to say that he was very good to you. You meant that, but what came out of your mouth was “he was very good to us.”. He was raping me in every orifice, though, so maybe you were mistaken? Couldn’t be, though, right? Because you were the God of my Childhood. He raped me while you slept. There are family rumours of there being Valium on board. I had nightmares about Contact C, so I think maybe you were taking that, too.
You tried to wreck me.
1988 – I have a daughter now. I am 19. Her father plucked me out of foster care, but I am now a mother so, okay. Let’s try to do this motherhood thing right. Right? Let’s do it. She doesn’t leave my sight. I can’t breathe without my hand on her chest as she breathes. He leaves for months and months and I somehow keep our bodies and souls together. There is no one else. I am the only one. I breastfeed. I cry. I get up at 5 a.m. and make breakfast. I save all the food scraps to make stock because I know how to do that. I ask for things. He says no. I breastfeed. I cry.
1989 – I have been begging for therapy for a year now. He says “no”. He says “You are a terrible mother.” He says “let me take her.” I believe him. I believe him when he says “We will do visits. You will never lose her. I will make sure of it.” I let her go. I let her go. Who would want me? I let her go.
I do not see her again until 2006. I get it though. I am a terrible mother. I am a terrible person. Of course you took her from me. Of course you did.
1990 – I have a son now. His father chocked me unconscious while my baby nestled deep within me. I went to hospital because I was afraid for my baby boy’s life. I said “I want him to get help.” I said “No charges. He tried to kill me because he has pain. My life for his pain. My life for his pain.” I return to work, five months pregnant with every capillary in my face and eyes broken. My boss says “Jesus.” when he looks at me. He doesn’t say anything else. I go to work. I go home. I make dinner with whatever scraps there are in the fridge. The landlady is mad because he keeps pissing in her tub. He does this on purpose. I know he does it on purpose. He hates her. He hates me. I breastfeed. I cry.
He says “We should go home.” Home is thousands of miles from me. Thousands of miles from my daughter, but I have no one and nothing. I say yes. Of course I say yes. I pack a bag. I get on a plane. We pass over a landscape that feels dreamlike. I say “I’ve always dreamed of living in a place that looks like this” and he grins at me. His mouth turns up but this smile does not reach his eyes. He says “It looks nothing like this where we’re going.” I nod and I breastfeed and I cry.
1991 – I am breastfeeding. I eat Spam and there is Carnation milk in my coffee, which I limit because I am also pregnant again. We have no house. The community is tiny and the mother in law speaks in a language I do not speak or understand while I am breastfeeding. She is calling me names. I can tell, because they laugh and also I know the name for “white” in her language. Kablunak. She is calling me by that name while I am breast-feeding. And I am pregnant again. I wanted birth control but there is some religious contraindication against it. He is not kind about anything. I do not say no. Ever.
I have another baby boy now. I find underwear on the bathroom floor that should not be there. My son reaches for his father’s crotch in ways that alarm me. I say “I am alarmed”. He beats me while I am breastfeeding the new one…
…I call the RCMP. They say “It’s his word against yours.” They say “You should leave, though. We can help you with that.”
I have no where to go. I get a one way ticket “South”. I go to my mother. I have no where to go. “Mom? He hurt Alex. Mom? Can I come home? Yes, he beats me, but that’s not the thing. He hurt Alex. Can I come home?”
1991 – I flee with nothing but a bag of clothes and my babies.
You tried to wreck me.
An actual picture of me as a journal artist. :D
I began my healing journey in earnest in a journal, free writing my heart out every day. That eventually shifted so that I poured my heart out every day in an *on line* journal, though I still kept a written journal on and off throughout the years. Then, I started writing poetry. Then, I got a wicked case of writer’s block and I found art journaling. Somewhere over the course of the last few years, I’ve lost touch with art journaling as my primary mode of self-expression. I’ve shifted to “mixed media artist”, and that, my loves, has not served me well. It *could* serve me well *if* it were secondary to art journaling, but over the last several years, it’s been front and centre. I even stopped working in a journal just in case someone saw a painting they liked and wanted to buy it.
As soon as I started thinking about that, my whole practice changed. I stopped painting about my life and started painting more universal themes. I started censoring what I include in my paintings. I shifted focus to painting only in response to certain inputs – new moon, full moon. My practice stopped being therapeutic and became stressful. It was still fun, don’t get me wrong, but I was way less inclined to do it because I wasn’t engaging it the way my soul yearned to engage it.
I’m going back to basics. I need a journaling practice to support my healing journey. I need a place where I paint without caring about anyone’s gaze but my own. I need to paint from my guts as well as my heart. I need to paint my reality as well as my wishes.
And so, I’m going back to Book Of Days (how very Mercury Retrograde of me). Back to an art journal (simpler this time – a basic sketch book, though you will have the option to bind your own and a tutorial in that is offered). Back to the near daily habit of touching in with a bit of colour, symbolism, words. WORDS. Back to JOURNALING in my art journal.
When I made this decision and started to plan how I’d do it, what iteration I would like for it to take, I had a few revelations:
I don’t want to identify as a “mixed media artist”. Too much pressure. I want to identify as a JOURNAL ARTIST. I want art journaling to be my focus – especially the self-soothing, healing modality, “meeting myself on the page” part.
Realizing that I’d “lost my way”, or “gone off course” has been such a relief, y’all, because now I can course correct.
Anyway, if you miss *art journaling*, I welcome you to join me.
There are friends who will witness you in your deepest darks (crying in a towel with wine stained lips or whatever your deepest darks look like) and love you and never betray your trust, and then there are “friends” who will witness you in your deepest darks and use it to try and ruin you as soon as you don’t deliver what you never consented to deliver in the first place and I’m here to tell you that the person who tries to ruin you will test your trust that the one who loves you exists, but listen to me, darling human.
The one who loves you exists.
Keep that bar up. Hold the line.
We’ve got this. I love you. Keep going.