Every morning in the car on the way to school, my daughter comes up with some random question. And I’m not talking, whats the weather momma. I’m talking deep, hurt your head, life discussions.
Last week we discussed Merlot. Again. He comes up a lot in conversation. At least once a week, if not more.
Who is Merlot you ask. Merlot was our beloved Maine coon that we had to euthanize in March of 2014, a short time after his 17th birthday. The first pet loss for my daughter. It happened quickly and she wasn’t able to say good bye. A decision I regret, but she wasn’t even 3 years old, how does anyone explain something like that to kids? The explanation was going to be hard enough as it was. A loss I was not ready for, let alone prepared to have to explain it my daughter.
He was an amazingly handsome, one eyed kitty with the heart of gold. He loved everything and everyone, even though he was a scaredy cat. He was the last of our kitty household and number that went as high as 5 at one time and included his half sister, who we lost to an aggressive form of cancer. We were lucky that his cancer was an “easier” kind. Several years prior we had had to have his eye removed because of ocular melanoma that had caused vision loss and pain. A condition common in cats and in most cases curable with removal. He had an amazing recovery and was no worse for the wear. Until the night he had an acute episode of hypertension that caused him to loose sight in his remaining eye.
I digress. This story is not about Merlot. Well not in this sense. Back to the question at hand.
“Momma, how did Merlot get to god?”
Yep there it is. Not even 9 am and I have to come up with a short answer that an almost 5 year old with sensory processing disorder and who is highly empathetic, can handle. Short. Sweet. Accurate, because she has the mind of a vault. There is no an option to “change” the story later. One that I pray will stop the conversation right there and won’t lead to more questions we haven’t prepared for yet. An answer that won’t lead to sobbing. And an answer that fits the rest of the answers we aka I have had to use. Luckily my husband has been able to avoid these questions. Turns out he’s great at evading questions.
Quickly raking my brain trying to remember what words and phrases I’ve already used. Come on memory don’t fail me now. This one is pretty much on repeat. Unfortunately we’ve had to change the wording a couple of times for other losses, but its consistent.
“Merlot’s body stopped working and he went to god”
“No you can’t call or visit him. God cares for him now”
“He will always be in our hearts”
(I try not to use this one much, it always ends up in tears and singing the blues)
Let me explain why we choose this. You see you can’t say that he took medication that stopped working or that didn’t help him. Well you can, I did. One Time. Hard lesson learned. Why? Then later down the road when she has to take medication that maybe doesn’t work, we could get the “Am I going to die question.” A road I am not interested in any time soon. She’s too young to discuss the rainbow bridge. We’ll we could but then I would be discussing that for days, making bed time harder then it already is. Yes we will save that for another day.
So here we have it, the reply:
“When Merlot died, his soul went to God.”
There you have it. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about souls, I think, I hope. Oh please let that be the end of it for now, digging in my purse for the bottle of Valor to pass back to her to apply before school. Luckily it distracts her and she starts talking about how much she loves the smell of the purple bottle. Its blue but I won’t go there.
Thankfully, we arrive to school and she’s distracted by the process of getting out of the car. Out she goes with an “I love you and see you soon.” Under my breathe I hope the school doesn’t get an earful. Although it wouldn’t be the first time. When we first meet the teachers there she introduced herself and told them she had a cat. And of course they asked about the cat, which she promptly told them he was dead and was with god now.
If you have children you strive every day to give your child(ren) the best, safest life you can. Its hard to be prepared for everything. If you have pets and kids I’ll be the first to say, you need a plan in place for pet loss. I know you don’t want to think about it, but trust me be prepared. There are some really great books on Amazon. Put them aside, tell a friend so you can find them later 😉 and have plan. We were ready when we lost the dog and it was a much smoother experience.
For Every Cat an Angel by Christina Davis is one of my favorites and they have a dog version, also. We put a little spin on in and had a stuffed animal that “looked” like the dog that the neighbor dog gave her. It helped her to focus on the love and not the loss.
Coming soon we have a make your own Immune Support Gummy recipe and we’ll be back next week for chapter 2 of the Car Chronicle’s.
Ta Ta for now,