My mom and dad had to put their cat to sleep today. That’s slightly better than “put their cat down” and not nearly so clinical as “euthanize” but, the fact is, he’s no longer alive. Of course, my mom didn’t mention it. There were mentions in the morning Bubba’s leg isn’t working and he hasn’t been feeling well for weeks and then Well, he was probably bitten by something, there was slobber all over his back.
I mean, not the slobber or how it got there (I can’t think about it, it’s so heartbreaking), the abrupt passing of things. Dogs, cats, cars, grandparents, houses. Their passing from our lives to another is a blip on her radar. She watched RR today and she would have left without mentioning Bubba’s passing to us had we not ferreted it out.
Death and loss seem to me a practical, essential part of life. Sometimes a really shitty, horrible, awful, part of life and sometimes freeing, or a relief, or a shedding. And around here, it’s coming on fast and strong. I don’t have a way to meet it without turning to face it. It’s facing it gently that’s difficult.
So it wasn’t a conscious decision to tell RR about Bubba. That he had died. Do five year olds understand “passed away”? Is it passed when it wasn’t his decision (although no judgement – it was a sound one)? So, “died” it was. That he was old (which he sort of was) that he had an accident (which he did) and that grannie is very sad (which she is). Five year olds do understand empathy, though, at least a bit, and so over dinner RR decided to make grannie a card:
I felt badly telling her (she might never have noticed Bubba was missing) but it’s also practice. I shouldn’t have to think about that. She shouldn’t have to practice. We should, not. have. to. It might not help her but, I’ll be honest, it helps me. It means the first time I say those words to her won’t be when I have to tell her that her grandfather has died.