Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The hard lessons of a four year old

I wrote this in October 2008...I couldn't imagine having to explain the death of a beloved younger brother like a little four year old had to hear a year ago. Having to lose a cat was so hard for my four year old. I am amazed at the strength I see in others.

The hard lessons of a four year old...
After a rough night and slow deterioration, Saliers' body started to give today. He couldn't stand up and ended up lying in his own urine. I tried my best with fluids first thing this morning, lots of pep talks and old fashioned tender loving care. At 2:30 this afternoon, I took him to the vet for the last time and he got a shot in his leg. Moments later his eyes faded and he stopped breathing. It was the only choice I had. Well, choice number two was to make him comfortable and allow him to die lying in his own urine. That was not really an option for me.
The toughest thing was telling my four year old daughter.
I told her that I am taking him back to the doctor and he won't be coming home. It took a few times before she really seemed to understand he's never coming home. I told her he's going to die. And she gasped and said 'He's going to DIE??!! And keep dying??" I told her he was going to kitty heaven where he will be young and not sick and he'll be able to walk and run and play.

Funny coming from someone that doesn't have a religious idea of heaven the way many Christians do, but it's easiest explained that way to me I guess. I'm not sure that she gets any of it. But at least I was honest and at her level explaining the best I know how. I told her it's OK to be sad. I'm sad and I'm going to miss him. I love him. But I'll be OK and I won't be sad for long. I think she thinks he's just going to stay at the vet’s office forever and though part of me thinks it would be OK to think that, we have to take Mozart in a few weeks to get snipped. I'd hate the thought of her asking to see Saliers thinking he just moved to the vet's office.
She is taking it so hard. She broke down tonight when she came into my room and saw Mischief on my bed. She just said, "I miss Saliers," and started crying. I hugged her and told her I miss him too and it's OK to cry and it's OK to be sad. As soon as I said it's Ok to cry, she let it all out...just bawling. She said he couldn't die because she loved him. And I told her that's why we are so sad because we love him so much. She asked about heaven again and where it is. I told her I think it's beyond the stars and maybe when Saliers died he made a new star. We went into a dark room and looked outside at the stars (only it was cloudy, so all we saw were a few blinking lights from airplanes). I told her tomorrow when the clouds are gone we could look for a new star and just maybe that would be his star.
Later she asked me if Saliers was getting shots at the doctor's office. I simply said he's not getting any shots anymore. Then we went through the conversation again about him not coming back. I told her I don't know everything, but I will answer any question she has and then I told her sometimes big hugs help make us feel better when we are sad. We hugged and then she started talking about other things that die. This is going to be a long hard lesson...

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