Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No Angels, No Wings

Okay, my mother dying was easier than this.

Jake, as I expected, has a lot of questions.

So, she has nine lives...

No, honey. That's just a story. Cats do not have nine lives. Only one.

So God picked her up and took all her lives...

No, honey, if there is a God, I don't they would do such a thing.

So the coyote ate her.

Um... I don't know honey. Someone may have her in their house. I only know if she could come home, she would.

So are you sure we aren't going to see her again? Won't we see her in heaven?

Okay, I need to pause here. An atheist raised me. I believe in spirituality but not god. The only church my kids have been to is the Unitarian Universalist church and believe me, no one is talking God there. The bible thumpers are worried my kids are infecting theirs with images of homosexuality by having two moms? Please. There are enough religious symbols in our society to make an atheists grandson talk about... angels.

I asked Jake to draw a picture of Sophia. He drew one with a halo on her head and tears coming out of her eyes.

What's that? I asked.

You know, she's an angel.

What's an angel?

Have you seen any movies mom?

Yes, but you tell me...

An angel is something that's dead. They have a golden thing around their head, wings, and a little harp in their hands.

A harp?

Yes, just a little one.

Why is Sophia sad?

Because she can't come home.

Yeah, I think she is sad.

And she's an angel, he said confidently.


But if God puts her back because she has more lives...

Honey, that's a folk tale. A story. No one has more than one life.

He went back to his drawing. He added a heart with a line through it- one side a little boy crying, one side the cat crying.

I miss her, too, I said.

You found my weakness, he said, bowing his head, pretending to be a superhero cast in the shadow of kryptonite.

No, I just know you loved your kitty.

I have no idea if I've done this well or not. The damn cat may come strolling back tomorrow. Or never again. I'm shocked that when my mother died, the boys all took it in stride, as if that's what happens every day. Grandma was sick, very sick, very old and died.

No talk of angels ever happened.

She was dead. They joke about her often, laughing about her letting Zachary wear her fur coat or the extension fork we bought her for Christmas to steal French fries from their plates more easily. Even right after she died, there was no real sadness.

They knew it was time.

After the picture drawing, Jeanine read a book to Jake. He closed his eyes and leaned against her shoulder, listening to the words. Finally asleep, I carried him up to his bed. Zachary, in the lower bunk, was still awake.

Mom? Is Sophia really not coming back?

I don’t know, honey. I don’t think so.

He curled up into a ball. The lights were off but I’m pretty sure he was crying.

You miss having her curl up with you?

He nodded his head.

She was a great cat to sleep with.

He nodded again.

I rubbed his back for a while before going downstairs.

I took the dog out to the back yard, her last trip of the night. We both stood on the porch a while and looked around.

No angels, no wings.

And definitely not the right time.


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