Difficult Times

Not long after I finished Maggie’s farewell post yesterday, Liam woke up from his nap and stumbled into my office, slightly wild-eyed.

“I can’t find Maggie-cat,” he said.

My heart, which had already gone through the metaphorical wringer while writing the post, broke again.

“No, honey,” I said. “That’s because she’s dead. She’s gone.”

“I’ll look for her later,” he said after a moment, his face brightening.

The halves of my heart each broke again. The lump I’d been coaxing away reappeared in my throat, and I almost reached for the dangerously low supply of Kleenex.

“Maggie’s not coming back,” I said. “She died. People don’t come back the way we want them to when they die.”

He backed up until he hit the wall behind him, staring at me. Then he brought his hands up in front of him, sort of cupping them.

“We can get a new Maggie-cat?” he said hopefully.

“No, love,” I said, sitting on the floor in front of him. “Gryff is our new cat. Maybe someday we’ll get another cat again, but not for a long time. And it wouldn’t be the real Maggie-cat, even if it looked like her.”

“I want my Maggie,” he said piteously, much softer than he’d spoken before.

“I know,” I said. “I do, too. But she’s gone now.”

He bent forward and leaned his head against my shoulder. We stayed like that for a few minutes.

“Hey, guy,” I said. “You know what? In your toy box at Grandma and Papa’s house you have a stuffed Maggie-cat. When we go over this afternoon, why don’t you ask if you can bring her home? That way you’ll remember Maggie every time you look at it, and you can hug it and give it pats and tell it how much you love her.”

“Okay,” he said, brightening up. And when we got there the little stuffed black and white cat was sitting on his bed. He caught it up and asked me if we could bring it home, and I told him to ask his grandmother. She told him it would be all right if I said yes, so he carried it with him to the dinner table, brought it home, and slept with it. It’s gone to the caregiver’s with him today instead of Bun-Bun.

I wish I had a stuffed Maggie-cat to fill what Phnee referred to as the Maggie-shaped hole in my heart. But both Cricket and Nixie curled up with me when I watched the Carlo Rota Othello last night (which was an excellent adaptation with very good performances), something they rarely did because Maggie was always there first. I’ve been preparing to say goodbye to her for over three years now, and I’m handling her loss much better than I expected to. There are moments, though, where I expect to see her, or I think about something she used to do, and I remember how much I love her, and I have to stop what I’m doing. She was so much a part of my life.

Thank you to everyone who called or e-mailed or left comments to the farewell post. Your thoughts and condolences are deeply appreciated. I know so many of you loved her, too.

4 thoughts on “Difficult Times

  1. Bodhi

    Arin, I’ve been so mixed up about my own stuff I missed this. I’m sorry for your loss. This is one reason I’m hesitant to have a pet in the house, considering Bear tries to bring all the fish in the seafood counter back to life. Can’t imagine actually loosing a cat or dog.

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  2. Owldaughter Post author

    I thought of Prince Bear when the boy and I were in the supermarket yesterday and he saw whole cooked lobsters and an entire salmon packaged up. Except my boy, unlike yours, looked at them with relish and said, “Yum, yum! We eat salmon! I like lobster!”

    Don’t worry about missing the Maggie news; you discovered it the next day, as many did. Heck, I rarely go online over the weekends myself. The pain of loss is offset by the many wonderful years of companionship. It’s part of the whole custodial thing: we take on the responsibility of protecting and loving these creatures for their entire lives, and we also take on the responsibility of managing their deaths. I think it’s an important part of a child’s life, too, to learn how to care for an animal and eventually deal with its death too. I’d rather the boy first learn about death this way than from the loss of a grandparent or dear friend, or, gods forbid, a parent.

    Thank you for your thoughts. And take care of yourself.

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  3. The Adzo

    That is probably an event he is going to remember, at least in some form. That was first class parenting.

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