"Guys, come here, I need to talk to you."
Micaiah started inching her way toward me, a sly grin on her face. She's right, usually when I bring her and her brothers close to talk to them I'm telling them about something exciting that's going to happen - we're leaving that afternoon to go to Nenaw & Papaw's, we're going to pick up the toys so we can paint, we're going to the store (it doesn't take much, when you're four or less, to garner excitement). It broke my heart knowing how out of place her current grin of anticipation was.
"Annie won't be coming home."
It was the sad news I had hoped not to have to share when we found the lump in our cat's abdomen on Sunday. I had hoped making them say good-bye to her yesterday, while she moaned in her cage just before being shuttled off to the vet, was just a silly precautionary measure - more like a, "Have fun at the doctor; we'll see you soon!" kind of good-bye.
But it wasn't so.
At first the pronouncement that Annie wouldn't be returning from the doctor was a little bit of a shock to the two older ones and I debated whether to leave it at just that. These are the tough calls a Mommy has to make when Daddy is at work and real life is unfolding before us. So I decided to push through and be honest (well, as honest as a four-year-old and a two-year-old need).
"She's very sick and she's going to die."
At this my tears broke forth, indicating to Micaiah this was the proper response. Thus, imitating me, she, too, wept for Annie.
For about ten full seconds.
And then, through the sobs, "Mommy, maybe we can do an activity."
"What kind of activity, Baby?" Was her soul more sensitive than I had anticipated? Was she already planning some sort of memorial? Or was it simply-
"You know, an activity from The Box?" Yep, just as I suspected. "The Box" being a cardboard box in which I keep craft kits for she and her brother to do on occasion. Nothing cat or funeral-related there. Just a fun thing to do now that we're done crying.
"Okay, Baby, sure."
Apparently these kinds of things are just easier on the young.
To be fair, they did ask a few more questions intermittently as the morning progressed and I did overhear this sweet conversation:
Emmett: "Why is Annie going to die, Sissy?"
Micaiah [in her most sweet, heartfelt voice]: "Because she's sick. Sometimes people, and animals, get sick."
Emmett: "But they don't die."
Micaiah: "Sometimes they do."
I know we'll still be answering questions in the most unexpected moments, as kids are known to have, but for now I'm glad this early brush with death was slightly less traumatic than we'd feared. If only I could promise them this would be the last time we'd ever have this conversation.
Sometimes life gets hard. And sometimes it's even harder than that.
Here's to the girl who wore her heart on her fur.
1110. A chance to say good-bye
1111. Simple understandings of not-so-simple things
1112. Understanding care-takers
1113. The way Joey's head rests in my lap as he sucks his thumb, tired from playing
1114. Singing lullabies
1115. Learning to play the piano as I teach her
1116. Listening to her read