Friday, October 23, 2015
We adopted Orville from our local animal shelter almost four years ago. It was a Friday; Friday the 13th to be exact. He was a beautiful black cat and I was morbidly excited to be adopting a black cat on Friday the 13th. I’m weird like that.
He was a gift for Alyssa on her ninth birthday, which was the very next day. She was so excited because he was her very first pet, if you don’t count the fish we’d had over the years, which she didn’t because, duh, you can’t pet fish.
Yesterday morning Orville was hit by a car and killed.
Tom called me at work. He’d moved Orville from the middle of the road and was preparing to bury him. He told me he was going to wait until I got to tell Alyssa. We knew she was going to be heartbroken.
Throughout the day, I’d catch myself fighting tears as I thought of my little girl finding out she’d love her beloved kitty. He could be such a brat when he ran from her but he did it because he knew she’d chase him. He loved her so much and was always ready for a snuggle and a belly rub.
Alyssa did take it very hard when we told her. She held onto me and sobbed throughout the night. She went through our computer files and found pictures of our sweet Orville. She changed the background on the computer to show him at his fluffy best. She found a picture of her holding him and made that the background on her tablet.
She loved him so much and is very sad that we’ve lost him.
As I hugged her, telling her how much I loved her and how sorry I was, I reminded her that he’d been a very well loved cat. He’d had a great life with her, always well treated, always loved. He was an excellent mouser and was probably hit as he was crossing from our yard to the neighboring field to look for mice. He didn’t suffer. There was no blood from the accident.
I don’t think this helped her so much as just having my arms around her, holding her tight and letting her feel whatever she was feeling. I think we’re going to be talking about Orville a lot in the coming days, weeks, whatever.
Olivia never really liked Orville. She’s afraid of animals, even ones as sweet as our Orbit. (We called him that sometimes…) But as she watched her sister sob Olivia’s eyes teared up and she leaned against me.
She said, “I’m sorry Lyssie’s cat is gone. I didn’t even like him but seeing her so sad it breaking my heart.”
Oh my lovey girl! I didn’t know how much Olivia would understand about Orville being dead but I’m so proud of her for understanding her sister’s sadness, her grief.
I held both my girls tight and whispered to them that I was just so sorry.
Alyssa pulled herself out of her sadness enough to ask why Liv was crying.
I told her, “She’s sad that you’re sad. But don’t worry about her. You are not responsible for her feelings. You just feel what you feel and let me worry about her.”
She nodded and leaned into me again.
As we fell asleep last night (Lyssie slept with me so we could be close) I whispered a prayer. I asked God, the Universe, anyone who was listening, to please, please, please let this be the worst, hardest thing she faces for a long, long time.
Death is a part of life. I get this. But it’s so hard to watch your child grieve.
I know that people tout losing a pet as a rite of passage. I get it. But I still hate it. I hate seeing her hurt, I hate seeing her in so much pain and not being able to fix it.
I asked her last night if, knowing she’d lose him after not quite four years, would she adopt him anyway?
“Of course I would,” she said strongly. “He was meant to be ours, even if we didn’t get to keep him as long as we wanted to.”
Wise words from my sweet twelve year old. She’s already seeing that even when we lose the thing we love, we don’t lose the love. We don’t lose the memories. We don’t lose the good that we gained from having him in our lives for those four years.
We loved Orville so much and he brought every single one of us (even Olivia, maybe) joy and happiness and comfort. He will be missed.