Last night, Hannah, Eliza and I had the conversation about how very sick Henry was and that it was time for us to let him die. The three of us sat on the couch while I held Henry for them to pet and coo to as they took in what it was I was trying to tell them. I know Eliza is too young to ‘get it’, but as Hannah was reminding me…she’s been down this road before, and remembers it. We talked about when we said goodbye to Franklin, then to Eleanor, and then to Mesa. We talked about how she missed them and still loved them. Then we talked about how sad she was and that she didn’t want Henry to die. The entire conversation killed me. Killed. Me.
As I was putting Eliza to bed later, she brought it up in a very matter of fact way; Henry is way sick and so he’s going to die, right? There wasn’t much to say to that other than, yep…you’re right. As I was putting Hannah to bed though, our conversation was completely different. We skipped our story and went straight into talk time. Her bottom lip was already quivering as I asked her if she wanted to talk about Henry some more. All she could do was nod as she started to cry… I told her that you know, sometimes this happens with pets. Sometimes, they are just *so* sick that there isn’t any medicine to fix them. And that no matter how much we love them and want to keep them, we have to let them go. It’s time for Henry be all done sick, and just let go. I told her that while she was with Daddy for supper, Mommy was going to take Henry to the vet and they would take care of him, and help Henry be all done. And that I would bring a box and a soft towel for the doctor to wrap Henry up in so I could bring him back home. And that each of us would write a little note or a drawing for Henry, put it in his box, and then bury him. As I was coming up with all of this on the spot, I wasn’t sure how much Hannah was taking in, in between sobs. She kept asking where Henry was now, and why wasn’t he in her room for night time? The fact that he wasn’t in her room last night for songs and stories tells me it is the right time. Henry has never missed a night of stories and songs. His spot is laying next to me, with his front paws stretched out across my middle, while I lay next to Hannah and read her a book. He’s done this for years, but not last night.
After I’d gotten Hannah as calm as I could, I came back downstairs and hunted for Henry. When I found him, he looked even more frail than he did that morning. I carried him up to Hannah’s room and as I walked through the door, she sat up and shot her arms out to hold him. She and I sat there for awhile, holding Henry, letting him feel the love. Then I told her, go ahead and tell Henry what you need to honey. And she did…she pet him and coo’d to him about what was going to happen and how much she loved him and would miss him. I don’t know how she knew, but she told him that the vet was going to give him a shot and that it would help him feel better and then die, and that Mommy would wrap him in a soft towel and bring him back home. And that she and Eliza would put their drawings in his box and then we would bury him in a hole in the ground. And that he would be okay then, because he wouldn’t be sick any more. He actually meow’d at the end of her story, as I set him down on the floor. I told Hannah, you know, that was him saying ‘yep, I’m okay with that.’ Hannah says…. ‘oh, I thought that was him saying no, I don’t want to die’.
I sat there for awhile longer with her, holding her, crying with her, reminding her that it was okay to be sad. He is our kitty and we are going to miss him, it is okay to be sad about it. But to also remember, once we let Henry go, he won’t be sick anymore and that’s going to be so much better for him. And that he won’t forget us, because we’ll have put our notes and drawings inside his box with him. Hannah thought for a minute and then asked if we could put a statue there by where we bury him and I was like, sure we can do that. Then she asked if we could put stickers on his box too, and could they be heart stickers because hearts mean love. I was like, of course honey, we can do that. And before I could say anything more, she added, “you know, I think Henry would say yep, I’m okay with that.”
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