Virtual Voices

Good grief

Family

For a variety of reasons, our family said good-bye yesterday to a trio of 7-year-old cats: Ricky, Lucy, and Ethel. These cats were with our family for two years and were good kitties, but we discovered in the course of those two years that two of us are allergic to cats. We also discovered that they didn't get along very well with the puppy we acquired last August and, frankly, the puppy won.

Thankfully, we found a family willing to adopt all three cats. As sad as we were to say good-bye, we were glad they could stay together and go to a family who really wanted them. (These people are "cat people" more than we could ever be, and have promised to send us regular photos so we can keep in touch with the furry felines.)

But that grace didn't make the process of saying good-bye any easier.

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The girls were spending their last moments with the cats yesterday when the doorbell rang, and within 20 minutes it was all over. The family was very kind to walk out after we arranged the cats in their various carriers so the girls could say their last tearful good-byes, and I gently encouraged my daughters to carry the cats out to the waiting family rather than have them come back in to get them. I thought it would be better if we physically handed them over to the family instead of having them take the cats from our house. The girls were willing, but they were also wailing.

We came back inside and I gathered my weeping daughters around me. Their sadness made me cry as well as my heart was heavy because of the pain they were feeling. My first impulse was to help them get their mind off of their loss and I came super-close to taking them out for ice cream, because, well, ice cream always helps, right? I thought better of it . . . only to entertain the idea that maybe a video would help. Again, I realized that numbing the pain with something digital might not be the best way to go either.

The girls were still crying when I had an idea: "Everyone get on your shoes and coats," I said. "We're going for a walk."

The girls didn't question me and prepared to go outside. My husband pulled into the driveway just as we were heading out, noticed all the red eyes, and didn't even go in the house; he just joined us in our lament. We spent 20 minutes decompressing what we as a family had just experienced, and what began in silence-sisters crying and holding hands to comfort one another-ended with giggles and mini-races back to the house. The immediate pain was soothed without the help of sugar or cartoons. It was good resolution.

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