Thursday, January 10, 2013

Death is Complicated.

As my faithful readers know, our cat Lovee passed on to the Great Beyond this year. We didn't mention that she had died to Lady Baby. I was going to let it happen organically. Wait until she asked me about it. Cause that seemed like the best way to do it. Wrong

She never asked. Not totally surprising, since Her Highness never actually interacted with the cat. She though it was funny to hiss at her when we happened upon her in the hallway or basement. It is hard to get emotionally attached to a cat that spent her life avoiding all human contact. The wee one made her especially nervous with her squeals and outstretched, dirty little hands. So they were not exactly buds. It was more like they were boarders in the same rooming house. Lady Baby was the sweet young girl who was new to town, and the cat was the decrepit old woman who hated everyone and refused to speak. So we just never talked about the fact that we were now a one cat house. 

Her Majesty would refer to Lovee when she was doing family roll call. She would tell me Lovee was my favorite cat and Gypsy was her favorite cat (because two people can NEVER have the same favorite, obvs). And she insisted on putting food down for She Who Had Departed when she fed the other cat. I took the bowl, but she managed to find it and we would once again have two bowls heaped with food. Finally, one day, I had enough. It was time to explain. It was time to tell my sweet child that Lovee had left the earthly plain. I got all serious and down on her level and composed myself for a very. serious. conversation. 

Me: What are you doing?
A: I am feeding Lovee.
Me: Honey, Lovee died.
A: Huh?
Me: Lovee doesn't live here anymore. She got sick...
A: She's at the vet?
Me: No, she is in heaven.
A: Hmph. I though she was in the basement.
Me: So, we don't need to feed her anymore. Just Gypsy.
(1.9 seconds later)
Me: What are you doing?
A: I am feeding Lovee.

So conversation #1 didn't really take. I was pretty sure that my tactics were not those approved by the American Association for Good Parents Who Want to be Real with their Kids (AAGOWWRK). I enlisted advice from my friend Sara who works with Palliative care. She gave me some ideas of how to explain death to wee childrens. I felt more prepared the next time it came up, which was riding in the car a few days later.

A: So Lovee is with Evan (I have a good friend named Evan.)
Me: Huh?
A: Lovee went with Evan.
Me: What?
A: Lovee is with Evan.
Me: Oh, oh. Lovee, Evan. No baby, Lovee is in heaven. Heaven.
A: What is heaven again?
Me: *Cold sweats and deep breathes, remembering what I learned*
Heaven is a place that is beautiful, um, and far away but right here, and um, that is where we go when we die.
A: Ok.

I felt a little better this time, since she said OK. Like maybe she understood. Except we have since had this conversation in various forms 784,628 times since then. I think the concept it way too big for her. I get the sassy response, "I know, I am just talking about her." I swear we have talked about that cat way more posthumously than we ever did when she was skulking among us.

The last conversation we had focused on my delicate flower's favorite discussion topic. Diarrhea. 

A: (out of the blue) Lovee was sick and had to go to the vet. 
Me: Yes.
A: She probably had diarrhea. 
Me: No, she had something much more serious.
A: Like diarrhea.
Me: No, she was really really sick and felt really bad and was never going to get better.
A: With diarrhea.
Me: What did you do at Sam's today?

I think she still thinks Lovee really is hanging out in the basement and I am just confused. I also have a feeling we will be talking about Lovee and heaven and diarrhea for a long time to come.

Devil cat has gone to heaven to pee on The Good Lord's white velvet couches
and he is now having to get his duvet filled with clouds dry cleaned on a regular basis.
Bet you wish you would have left that one down here amongst the living, am I right Big Guy? 

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