November 8th marked the 5th anniversary of Katie the Cat’s death. Perhaps one of the most difficult days of my life. She was just a few months short of turning 20. I made the difficult decision to have her euthanized. A decision I still at times, especially during irrational hormonally charged days, question.
I was 5 months pregnant with Jensen. Cailey was at the time only concerned with how best to torture her older sister. And Emme was old enough to understand that Katie the Cat had died, but I chose to leave out the part about MOMMY PULLING THE PLUG. Because she was 5, she mourned for a good 7 seconds, then said brightly, “NOW we can get a dog!”
Children are resilient that way.
I relived this memory this last week because my SIL had to put her beloved 14 year old dachshund, Mako, down. I was able to commiserate with her and offer some advice. First, take the time to mourn. When you have a pet that many years, they really become a vital part of your family. And secondly, DON’T TELL JENSEN THAT MAKO IS DEAD.
Avoidance is a favorite coping mechanism of mine. Right after Mako died, Jensen was playing on the floor with his vast collection of dogs on his bedroom floor. And out of the clear blue he remarked, “You know what Mom? Mako is my very favorite dog in the whole wide world.”
That did it. Since Fiddledaddy was out of town, I decided to postpone the bad news indefinitely.
Then upon Fiddledaddy’s return, as he was climbing into the car to take the girls to swimming class, and knowing they would be seeing their cousins, I told him that he should tell the girls the bad news. And with that, I turned and walked into the house.
Because my timing is AWESOME.
But still, Jensen did not know.
Finally Fiddledaddy had enough of my stalling, and he told the little man that his beloved cousin dog, Mako, had died.
For about 6 seconds, Jensen was contemplative. Staring out the window. Then he calmly stated, “Well. Next time I’m over at Aunt Trisha’s, I’ll just pretend Mako is out in the back yard.”
And he bounced off on his next adventure.
I admire that youthful ability to compartmentalize matters of life and death. And deal with things matter of factly.
One of my great fears is that I will die and leave my little family alone without a mother to care for them. Because my thoughts always drift to the dark side.
But I take great comfort knowing that if something should ever happen to me, at least one member of the family will stoically carry on by simply pretending that I’m out in the back yard.
For all of eternity.