Do you have certain topical conversations you know are someday coming... ones that you think hard about what you will say when it comes time to discuss them. Yes, you know the ones. And you hardly ever say any of the things you think are necessary, or planned to say.
You may remember that in September, my mother lost her cat. The boys were fond of the cat, despite her rather grumpy disposition. Today, Joey bounced into the room where mom and I were discussing Easter baskets, and asked, "Where is the cat?"
I recovered fairly quickly- we are getting used to Joey asking questions- and this one even had a referent. Mom wasn't so quick. "What cat?" she asked- remember, the cat has been gone some months, and the children are often at her house, and this is the first time he has asked since we explained that the cat was gone.
"The orange cat," he replied as if he had been answering questions all his life. Amazing. But... what to say?
"Remember when the kitty was sick, and we took her to the doctor?" I tried to explain gently. "Remember, the doctor couldn't help her?" He looked right at me for a moment, then away, his fingers playing with something else. Most folks might take this as disinterest, or that the conversation was over, or that he had moved on- but he hadn't. He's Joey. He's thinking. What to say? What to say? As Maddy would say, I dithered.
"She died, honey," I finished simply, with no other words to provide; there was nothing more to be said.I gave him a little hug. "Do you miss the kitty?" I asked. "Yes," he replied, trying to escape me. "We do, too," I assured him with another little squeeze. "We;re sad she's gone." Then Joey was gone, too, out the door and down the hall.
That was not how that was supposed to go.