Exactly a week ago today we lost Sheldon. We had a wonderful day planting a garden, playing with friends, and then Michael and I went to dinner on a short date to celebrate his promotion and paying off our first student loan. We were only gone an hour and a half and then we picked Gabby up from Grandma and Papa's house. We were enjoying a peaceful ride home since Gabby fell asleep, when Michael turned the corner onto our road and saw something white laying in the middle of the road. Michael put the car in park and jumped out to investigate. I of course hesitated, I didn't want to know, but I rounded the corner of the truck hearing Michael say "Oh babe," with remorse in his voice. Michael scooped up the kitty, placed him in the bed of the truck, and we silently pulled into our driveway. I didn't react, I just got into Mommy mode and we tucked Gabby safely into bed. I can't help but feel like we could have prevented it. If we would have just came straight home and not gone to dinner, he probably would have been in the house (our neighbor saw playing outside less than an hour before we arrived home).
Then we headed out to discuss our options of how to respectfully bury Sheldon. We decided our yard wasn't an option (and you would agree if you've ever seen how small and full of underground wires it is). We tried to look up options online, but Google was useless. We decided Michael would take him to the vet the next morning and that is exactly what he did. Poor Sheldon was such a very sweet and loving cat and I just wish I would have been a little nicer to him and would have shown him a little more attention so he knew our appreciation of the joy he brought every day into Gabby's life. Sheldon was literally the first thing (if not Daddy) Gabby asked about every morning and was the last thing she kissed every night. No little girl has ever loved her pet more than Gabby loved Sheldon.
Telling Gabby was heartbreaking. She had been sick for over a week and we decided to wait until both Mommy and Daddy were there to tell her. That morning she blessed me by only asking once about where Sheldon was and my eyes weren't even opened yet so I felt comfortable avoiding the question. Without even knowing, she was a very clingy and whiny baby all day, probably due to being sick . She cried all day long and was only content in my arms. I was more than happy to oblige and hold her all day, wanting to comfort her and shield her from the news she was about to receive. When Michael arrived home early I was ready to tell her, but Michael was too sick and fell asleep almost the moment he walked through the door.
Before she went to bed, we finally had to tell her the news. We decided being honest was the best option, against the recommendations of about 90% of people we informed about Sheldon's untimely death. I thought this was a good lesson in learning about heaven and Michael thought of the future and all of the additional lies that would be required. Honesty is the best policy. I don't want Gabby to look back on her childhood and wonder, what really happened to that pet, or did that really happen, or what else did my parents lie to me about. I want her to look back on her childhood and feel that her childhood was full of respect, love, honesty, and of course fun.
We put Gabby's pajamas on, set her on our bed, set up a movie she wanted to finish watching and then before starting the movie together we told her, "Gabby we have some sad news. Sheldon got hurt and can no longer come to our house and play with us anymore. He went to heaven. Mommy and Daddy are so sorry."
Gabby just looked up at us with her sweet uncomprehending eyes and said, "But I want Sheldon to play with me."
With my heart breaking I told her that I once had a kitty who died and went to heaven and that I was sad when I lost my kitty too, but that Sheldon and my kitty and Daddy's kitty in heaven could maybe all play together. Later I told her about God likely having a plan for Sheldon. We made sure that she knew how sad and sorry we were about Sheldon and that it was not anything Mommy, Daddy, or she did or could change. Gabby burst into tears crying, "My kitty! Poor Sheldon. I want my kitty to come back." This heart felt cry lasted for about two minutes and then she calmly composed herself and asked if we could watch the movie. Which we did.
Gabby is doing well with loosing her first pet, but I think it is helpful that she didn't have to see him. She still doesn't truly grasp the concept of what has happened and she still asks about him numerous times every day. She informed Grandma the other day in a very sad tone, "Grandma I have some sad news. You can't play with Sheldon anymore because he is in a place with old mother cats. I am sad." I don't know how my mom stayed composed during that conversation, but I am so sorry for Sheldon losing his life and for the pain and loss Gabby is experiencing. My heart is still breaking for her and I miss him as well. I hope that Gabby learned something from this lesson and possibly begins to understand a little about heaven.
So Gabby, one day you will read this and I would like you to leave this passage on a positive note: Sheldon was your best friend. Any time we went to story time or you introduced yourself to someone you always announced, "My have a cat, his name Sheldon! He's orange and white. I lub him." You also told me daily that he was "the best cat ever," which I would agree with you he was a very patient and loving cat who allowed you to carry him around, cuddle with him, put blankets on him and hug and kiss him. He was also very playful and beautiful. He purred basically anytime you were around or anytime he was touching one of us. He loved playing outside and was a very proficient lizard hunter. We would find numerous lizards a day. We frequently commented that we knew he would protect you from a dangerous snake if that moment ever happened. So here is to remembering all of the fun times you had with your first pet you chose and loved. We loved you Sheldon!