We had a death in the family last week. While the deceased has (or had, rather) four legs, this did not make his sudden passing any less painful.
We left for school. My oldest with me, the youngest with dad. My husband had stopped at the end of the drive, got out of the truck and started looking curiously in the ditch. This is never a sign that something good is about to be discovered - like a pot of gold.
That something was our cat, Dude. For my children's sake, I remained calm... for 30 seconds then began crying hysterically.
Our cat had been hit by a car. At least we thought it was our cat. Since he had been hit by a car, we couldn't really tell if this was Dude. Maybe it was a stray. Not that it isn't any less terrible. After crying the entire drive to school, I dropped my teenager off. He took pity on his mama and gave me a hug. A hug which I'm positive will cost me, eventually, since he will be driving soon.
There was a little hope since we weren't positive it was Dude.
Months ago we had him neutered. At the same time we had him microchipped. I phoned our vet, told him the story and waited for him to tell me the good news. Since the microchip isn't a GPS, the vet's office suggested I bring "the deceased" in so they could scan him. This would give me a definite answer.
I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that I would soon be transporting a dead cat to the vet when my mother-in-law called. She had good news. Even though she doesn't like cats - or most animals for that matter - she knew how much Dude meant to her grandchildren. But nothing could prepare me for what she said next.
"That cat has a vagina. Dude was a boy! So he's not dead."
I'm going to be honest. I have no idea what a cat's vagina looks like. But I'm thinking it looks similar to a neutered cat's undercarriage.
We went back and forth a few minutes. I tried to believe it. But then, Dude never came home. So this left me with no other choice than to take "the deceased" to the vet and have him scanned. I had to know. My mother-in-law was irritated. I could see her point. I should believe someone who has spent zero time in any capacity caring for animals, especially cats, when they exclaim, "that's a cat's vagina, not a penis!"
By this time she had alerted both boys that the cat from this morning wasn't Dude. A few minutes after her initial text, my oldest sent me a message.
"DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW WEIRD IT IS THAT I HAVE A TEXT MESSAGE FROM MY GRANDMOTHER THAT CONTAINS THE WORDS 'CATS VAGINA'?!!!!"
The vet confirmed what I knew. Dude was dead. I was (and still am) devastated.
When I pulled in the drive, my youngest was sitting outside looking especially sad. I think he knew too. I wanted to kick myself. Why couldn't I just let it go? Or at least not tell my boys. Let them think Dude just wanted to roam free. He didn't want to be tied down by a family. They will find out about all of this stuff soon enough. I could have lied. But I didn't, and there was no turning back now.
Jay dug a small grave. Jackson placed a couple of Dude's play toys in with him. I cried. And Jacob did what most 15-year-old boys would do: he crossed his arms and tried to act tough.
In a show of respect for our dearly departed, Jay said a few words. "This is part of life, guys. Everything has a beginning and an end."
To which our oldest added, "Except for the Real Housewives franchise. That crap will never end."
And the youngest, "I love you, Dude."
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