acebook friends will know (and readers of this column have gotten a whiff of it), my cat Mookie is slowly fading. Every ounce we coax on, she slowly loses. Depression is the state of our world now, just my wife and I trying to get every last experience out of Mookie before she fades into the night.
I suffer from occasional mild depression (the writer’s badge). And there is nobody to talk this through with. Train club buddies are sympathetic but that’s as deep as it goes between guys. Work? Don’t make me laugh. I go through days in my dark corner pod without seeing a soul (and the ones I do see are the screaming damned). Bleakness lumps in my gut like lead.
But I am a writer. And I do write.
Unlike Facebook with its instant gratification (“My Cat is Dying” ), I do correspond with other writers. Two, in fact, as dynamically different as writers can be. Both are published, and both have that firm female pen that I lack. Jenessa is out in the upper-left side of the country, Lynn in the lower right. The former drops me an email every week or month, as appropriate. With Lynn, it’s occasional paper letters (yes, kiddies, your elders still do that). But this isn’t a chat over the office coffee pot (“Hey, BTW, how’s your cat doing. Uh huh. Uh huh. Got a meeting. Later.”). These are exchanges between writers discussing pain and loss. Both of them have told me of their own late pets, and both of them did it with firm description and elegant prose that left me there, feeling their pain as I feel my own. And they both tell me funny stories, not elevator-speech stories but interesting slice-of-life moments, cheering in the day-to-day detailing. And that gets me through this – a kind word written with a writer’s truth, one that sooths me, not through any resolution (for what resolution can there be save that?) but through the simple, open exchange of circumstance.
Yeah, it’s day to day here. Hard to write in the dark, which my life mostly is. Hard to smile. But every time I get a letter from Jenessa or Lynn, I can manage a smile. I get by with a little help from my friends.