A Hug-Filled Day

Today was an emotionally draining day in the Garrett household. If you follow me on Twitter (which you should be!), you probably know that we had a death in the family.

Last night, our cat, Tally, was hit by a car and killed. She had crossed that road hundreds of times, but this time she was probably careless, running after or from one of the other neighborhood cats, and the driver was a punk. I mean seriously, you just mangled a cat, with a jingly bell collar on, and you don’t find the owner and apologize?

Anyway, Hotness took it quite hard. We sat together last night for a while. I fought back my need to fix and convince. I pat myself on the back for that restraint, since that’s not what she needed at the time. We decided not to tell the kids until after school, since we didn’t want our very emotional kids to have a rough day at school.

We expected Bill, the 9yo, to have the strongest reaction. He took it hard, but was able to keep his reaction measured. I think that was because he is confident she will be with us after this life. Spasmo, the 11yo did well, until our little funeral.

Gum, the 2yo (nearly 3), probably still doesn’t quite understand. He helped decorate the box/casket that Tally was in, talked about her being in there, but later asked, “Where’s Tally?”

Sunshine, the recently 5yo, was distraught, but seemed more interested in how she is doing right now, where she is beyond this life, and how we will probably see Tally again.

But it was Princesa, who is 6.5 and is the only girl, who took it hardest. She’s been nearly the most scratched and nipped by the cat, but she is sweet and loving and devoted. Plus, she is old enough to understand what death is. So she was crushed. Sweet, wonderful little girl.

Until her friend came over. Princesa’s words, “I was really, really sad and crying a lot about Tally. But then Adriana came over and we played a lot and that cheered me up.” Thanks, Adriana.

I came home a little early and carved out a deep grave in the southwest corner of our back yard. We decided that this should be our new graveyard, since the other place was just too rocky and rooty. When the space was ready, everyone gathered and we lowered the box into the ground. Then some people said a few things. Hotness read D&C 29: 24-25 (thanks for the advice John (sparbowl).

The wood board will be a sign in the coming weeks.

Then, just as I was about to call the gathering to an end, I felt an impression come. I asked if anyone wanted to say a little prayer. Bill, he is such a valiant and purely GOOD person, said one. Then Sunshine did. It was lovely! Then Gum said a little prayer. Then Hotness said a nice prayer too.

Emotions ran strong and tears fell. We talked about what a blessing it is that we can feel such sorrow and grief, yet happy at having had Tally around. We discussed how the Savior felt all of this for us so that the weight of our grief wouldn’t bear us down completely and that it would heal in time.

We talked about how dogs probably don’t chase cats in heaven.

Then the Garrett family had a nice, group hug before Spasmo had to run off to New Scouts. It was a nice little service and I found myself feeling sympathetic grief. I’m not heartless, but I never liked cats, didn’t like this one very much, and have seen innumerable animals, loved and unloved, die in my semi-short life.

I saw my favorite dog, a puppy really, die of some mystery illness when I was 13 or 14. I was certain I had poisoned him on accident because he had tasted some cleanser water I was using. I was raised by people who chronically adopted cats and dogs, so I’ve had my share and fill of animals, animal hair, animal smell, animal waste and animal death. I think I’m pretty much inured to this kind of thing.

Truthfully, I just caught myself wondering if the cat needed to come in as I was finishing putting away the chickens. Tally was a part of the family. For me, she was not the best part.

So after that tender time, we decided to watch Toy Story 3 as a sort of wake for the cat. None of us had seen it yet. We finished dinner and our nightly clean up routine and sat down as a family. We hadn’t watched a movie, all together, in a long time. It was lovely. And Toy Story 3 is one of the best screenplays I’ve ever seen produced. Everyone got into it, felt the powerful punch at the end of the flick, and some of us got moist-eyed.

Spasmo and Bill and I sat down for a bit afterward to talk about the effect that movie had on us. It was a good discussion, followed by hugs.

And as each kid flopped off to bed, I got a particularly tight hug. Five tight squeezes from five of my seven favorite people. Each squeeze stopped life for me for a moment. A moment of joy and perfect love.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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