As much as Toby’s been helping — and she still is — there are some things she can’t help with.

My pain levels are increasing, and with them comes increased sleep. My cats are suffering for it because I’m not awake to feed them. No matter how much I love them, I can’t deny they deserve better than this, and yet I doubt someone else will be able to take care of them half as well.

I’ve decided they will be my last cats. Toby will be my only bird.

After being unable to sleep normally thanks to pain, drugging myself to sleep through it, then waking 16 hours later in even more pain, I sit here in tears at the prospect that this is all I have to look forward to for the rest of my life. Another 50 years of this? No.


I’ve known for a long time that one of the souls I have comes from Japan. He was not a nice person — he was an exceptionally terrible excuse for a human, actually — and was put into a female body so he’d personally know what he inflicted upon the women of his time. He’s the primary reason I identify the way I do and experience so much body dysphoria.

I’ve decided I will take him home. In ten or so years, when I have no more animal companions to keep me here, I will go to Japan and let him go. He belongs at home with his people. He’s not happy here. He never has been. He will be happy again there.

The other soul I have is female and somewhat indeterminate. She’s prevalent mostly in dreams, where I tend to dream of being female and experience a nightmarish mishmash of the scarring things I’ve gone through, usually involving school and my abusive ex-husband. Now, I cry every time I watch Moana, and I’ve figured out why: the way the essences of life and death are represented in it are so pure and beautiful to me, and that’s what sets me off. The movie’s writers took great pains to ensure the people’s way of life was respectfully and accurately depicted, and it resonated so strongly with my female soul that I think that general area is where she’s from. I read this article about Polynesian death culture and kept saying, “Yes! Yes!” to each point I read because everything felt true.

I’ve decided I will take her there after I’ve brought the male soul home. I will reunite her with her ocean mother.

The third soul will go home to the star mother. Back to the beginning to start anew. Maybe this time it’ll get a pair that works. The shell will simply turn back into dirt: it borrowed a shape, and, when the souls are safely home, it’ll be time to give it back.

Now, there is a plan. Now, I must work to see it through. Now, I must make sure I leave nothing behind that will inconvenience others to dispose of.


This is Toby.


She’s helping.

She’s really helping.


Is it worth the trouble it takes trying to live life so that someday you get something worthwhile out of it, instead of it almost always taking worthwhile things out of you?

Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist 

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to answer this question in the affirmative, to be quite brutally honest, and yet I keep scraping for reasons to. It all feels so futile.

Recently, I added a linnie to my shrinking list of reasons to persist: a bird breeder to whom I’d expressed interest contacted me a few days ago, asking if I wanted one of the two unspoken-for turquoise linnies she was hand raising. Fool that I am, I said yes, and, fool that I am, find myself looking forward to meeting this bird. I’ve already caught myself thinking about where to put the cage when I’m up, looking at linnie-specific training methods, wondering how I’m going to sleep with the cage on my dresser. I already know I’m going to the bird shop come next cheque to buy a cage and toys.

I’m about to make a commitment — not just to taking care of a new little life, but to outliving its span, which is at least another ten years.

What the hell am I doing?

Drifting towards oblivion.

Vaping ceaselessly, each inhaled breath taken from the mod, each exhaled breath a rolling cloud of vapour. Drinking one hard liquor after another, everything from fruit creams to amaretto to scotch. Eating heavily flavoured, rich foods, drowning my tongue in a wealth of tastes and textures. Scraping holes in my flesh with my fingernails, leaving patches and furrows of discoloured, seeping skin, yet the pain is distant through dissociation fog.

I try to oversaturate what senses still work in vain attempts to stay connected to the world, but passive suicide covers me in its gentle smother, and I find I just don’t care anymore. I know my life will be ending soon, and it will end in a quiet, dark, pathetic corner, remote enough that only I will know the true extent of my utter failure. I have no future. All the things I wanted to do were stolen by executive dysfunction and depression, with ravaged health hammering in the coffin’s final nails.

All that stops me is the tiny black and white face of my cat tucked with complete love and trust into the crook of my elbow. She doesn’t know. She can’t know. Nor do I know who would take care of her and her sister should they outlive me. For their sake, I attempt to endure, but I won’t lie: holding on is getting harder and harder. Finding things strong enough to stave off the void becomes an increasingly fruitless task. Everything becomes disposable.

One day, I’m going to slip, and I may breathe my last with my two four-footed girls curled and sleeping in my arms, tucked against my face.

One day, sooner or later.

Surface and breathe.

Things have happened.

Ten years’ worth of GST credit cheque backlog showed up in the mail recently. The sum ran into four digits. To say I was shocked to see it is something of an understatement.

Two days ago, I received a phone call from the long-term disability office. The worker on the other end of the line asked if I could go in the next day to fill out the final paperwork — not December, but now. It was during my meeting with her that I learned my application had been approved back in June, and that retroactive benefits in the form of another four-digit number would be deposited in my account next week.

I have been able to get myself all the little self-care things I couldn’t afford before, such as new clothes and shows I haven’t watched in four decades. I have been able to get the small household things and foods that most people take for granted, like tissues, dry sweeping cloths, honey, coffee, paper towels. I have been able to eat more foods than just oatmeal, rice, and bread with peanut butter and jam.

My fridge is full, and I no longer feel guilty about eating from it.

Today, despite being in shocking amounts of pain and stiffness, I can breathe a little easier.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, universe.