Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Unhappy Pre-Christmas

It is not unusual for Dad and I to head off alone on Christmas Eve. I always sigh as we drive toward the mall to dutifully buy a gift for Mom. Why can’t he handle this on his own? Is it really necessary for me to tag along? Provide moral support?

“We’ll go,” I said softly, arm around Brother as his shoulders shook with sobs. “You stay here with Mom and the girls. Dad and I will be back soon.”

“Where is she?” Dad asked as we carefully moved up the icy steps to the front door of Brother’s split level house.

“Upstairs,” I replied quietly. “He said she was by the couch.” We greeted the orange cat and I followed my father up the steps, blinking back tears when I saw her stretched out, motionless on the floor.

Like most dogs, she loved visitors, emitting this happy mixture of bark and cry that indicated her utter pleasure that you’d come to see her. She had a long, black snout that I’d kissed on Monday before she’d gone home. Chienne had tolerated her presence well, trotting outside with the taller, thinner canine while they explored the yard.

“Is she really dead?” Dad asked and I looked away from the german shepherd mix on the floor to blink at him. I nodded and thought he looked rather young in that moment, asking for someone to deny the obvious.

“I can help,” I told him after we covered the body with blankets and garbage bags, fighting back sickness when we discovered she was already stiff. He refused, lifting the bundle and letting me follow him down the stairs. It was quiet when we left, the gray light of a stormy morning creeping sullenly through the windows. It would be terrible for Brother to come home, I thought. Nobody to yip and leap and prance in joyous welcome.

“She was a good girl,” I told Dad as we drove toward home. “So sweet and gentle.”

“Loved to chase her ball,” he offered. “Never ran away. This is awful – now I have a headache.” I nodded my agreement, feeling quite ill as well.

Returning from our grim errand, we took Advil from the bottle Brother had left on the table after he’d arrived. I curled up on the couch, no longer wanting to work, and blinked at the presents that awaited her under the tree. We don’t know what happened, but it appeared that she simply failed to wake up from a long winter’s nap.

"Thanks for going with me," Dad said when he sat down in his chair. I nodded and wished that we'd been to the mall instead.


emelectric said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this. It's so sad to lose pets, especially when there was no warning by way of illness or anything. I hope your brother will be OK.

Brigindo said...

How very very sorry. My condolences to your brother. It is always so hard to lose a pet but right before Christmas is just dreadful.

Anonymous said...

Oh Katie, I'm so sorry for you all...

post-doc said...

Thank you. We take losses like this quite hard, unfortunately. My parents decided not to replace our family dog after she died 5 years ago and Brother said he won't have another puppy for a long time. She really was a very sweet girl - I know Brother will miss her terribly.

Psych Post Doc said...

I'm so sorry. This brought tears to my eyes. My condolences to all of you.

Kelly said...

I'm sorry for your family's loss, Katie. I lost one of my two brother cats very unexpectedly on the 21st, so I know exactly what you and Brother are going through. Unfortunately the loss probably helped push me into labor as I was 39 weeks pregnant at the time!

Please pass my regards on to your brother.

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

I'm so sorry. It's so hard to lose a beloved family pet.

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