It was hard to tell where the body was buried. The only clue was the small pile of loose dirt that all but blended into the debris that surrounded it. I held my children’s hands as we stood in a circle around the grave. We were there to say goodbye to our pet.
The Bean was adamant with his suggestion that we mark the occasion by reciting “The Plegible Legions.”* With no better ideas on the table, we did it. In the middle of it WonderWife™ and I caught each other’s gaze. The emotions of the past few days mixed with the absurdity of the moment and we couldn’t keep ourselves from laughing.
The kids had handled the news that their pet was being put to sleep remarkably well, all things considered. WonderWife™ and I had planned for the conversation with the precision of a military strike. We decided not to pull any punches with them. We would not invent wild fantasies to disguise the truth with sugary sweetness. There would be no talk of kitty heaven. We planned for lots of tears and lots of questions. Both were in plentiful supply.
That morning, the Bean said his final goodbyes to his cat and left for school. Sprout didn’t have pre-school that day, so my job was to plan a morning of activities that would distract her while WonderWife™ took care of the unpleasantries. While it was hard to plaster a happy look on my face to keep my daughter focused on playing, I knew that my wife was dealing with the way more difficult task.
That afternoon, we sat shiva. WW™ made a pie and we lit candles and said a few nice words about our departed cat. After the sugar worked its way into the Bean’s system, he declared the day “the best ever!”, oddly seeming to forget that a just few moments earlier we stood over the grave of our companion performing an inappropriate eulogy. It didn’t matter. The tension had been broken.
*Say it out loud.