5 08 2010

So, yesterday, I sat down, full of the giggles, and wrote a bit of a post about my old crotchety cat, of whom the running joke about her impending death is quite common ’round these parts. I interspersed her annoying qualities and my frank desire to have her finally die with loving tributes to her sweetness and tenacity. I chose to store it as a draft, as I usually have a few more tweaks to my writing before I hit that publish key.

And just then, my daughter discovered her own cat, dead on our sidewalk. She had been hit moments before by a car, struggled her way home and died right outside of my house. My daughter’s cries of anguish made me run outside, my son broke into tears, and my mothering arms could do no more but hold them close to me as we found out together what it feels like to lose a treasured family pet.

I found out how hard it is to see your child feel grief.

We all took turns holding our sweet Bamboo to say goodbye; this thin tortoiseshell cat that Elisabeth chose from the SPCA for her 6th birthday. The first day we brought her home, that cat slept on Elisabeth’s bed. She knew who she belonged to instantly. Other than a bit of blood on her mouth, she looked completely fine. She was still warm in our arms as we discussed what we needed to do.

We all got down to the fine art of burying her. Special mementos were placed in the box with her. We all signed the box with messages of love to her. Flowers from our garden were chosen and cut, placed around her sweet kitty body.

Elisabeth carried her down by her own flower garden, where Dan had prepared the grave. Oh, my little girl just knew how to be strong, to handle the task at hand. Her tears and grief magnified the simple beauty of our impromptu funeral. She lovingly did what she felt she had to do, and then stood back. Together, then, Dan and Nicholas filled the grave. It touched my heart when Nick picked up the shovel, this act of burying was such a hands-on way of dealing with this tiny death. It was what he needed to do.

As we all stood together, in the final moments after the sod was placed back, my dog (who adored Bamboo, as she loved to rub on his legs every day and allowed him to sniff her butt whenever he wanted to) came into our grieving group. Not usually a “leaner” on people, he nudged his way in, and placed his whole body against my leg, almost pushing us over, as if to say “I’m sad too”.

We all went into the house to begin the process of grieving our loss, as small as it may seem to some. My heart hurts for my kids, this mini-tragedy is their first taste of true grief over death. It has let me see how I will need to handle the bigger losses yet to come.