“Kids, come here please. Mommy and Daddy need to talk to you,” I said calling the kids to the kitchen.
“Mom, you can just say ‘we’ and not ‘mommy and daddy’. We know who you are talking about,” Hayden said as he shuffled into the room.
“Sure honey, I guess you are right,” I said well in my mind I was thinking, ‘shut it, you smart ass kid’.
All four kids were now gathered in the kitchen. The news that we had to deliver was not good and I was struggling with what to say. Jeff on the other hand believes in being direct and got right to the point.
“Guy, we think Charlie is dead,” Jeff said.
I watched the faces of my precious babies sink and I could here their spirits crumbling. I glared at Jeff.
“Or he is gone,” I said quickly trying to recover.
The children just looked at us and I could see tears begin to form in Hayden and Quinn’s eyes. Oh my goodness, this was not going well.
“Ok guys,” I said again trying to save this conversation before each child was scared for life. “A couple days ago, I realized that I had not seen Charlie in a while. He just stopped coming home. So mommy and daddy, er we, think that Charlie is gone.”
“Yeah. Charlie is gone,” Jeff said with a softer tone, “And we don’t know if he is coming back. What do you guys think? What could have happened to him?”
Charlie has been our family pet since before we were a family.
Charlie came to live with Jeff after my sister hid him in her room at my parents house because she wanted a cat and my dad hates cats. When my dad ultimately found out, Charlie needed a new home and since Jeff and I were going to be getting married soon, Jeff took him.
This cat had been with us through three moves and allowed us to be ‘practice parents’ so that when our children came along we sorta knew what we were doing.
When we moved into our current house, we started letting Charlie go outside. We live in the woods, on multiple acres of land and what cat wouldn’t want to go out their to frolic? Charlie would go out all night and come home in the morning usually with some mouse or mole that he caught and decapitated during the night. That cat had a thing for decapitating small mammals.
It was on a Thursday evening that I realized that I had no seen or fed Charlie since Monday. My heart sank. What kind of kitty mom doesn’t notice her cat is gone for three days? I looked around the house in all his favorite hiding places but they turned up empty. I looked around outside and called his name but this time no meowing echoed my calls.
It was now almost two weeks since Charlie’s disappearance and Jeff and I felt it was time to tell the kids.
“Charlie could have got dead,” Claire said answering Jeff’s question.
“Yes,” I said. “Charlie could have gotten hit by a car, gotten into a fight with an animal or maybe he was sick and ran away to die in the woods.”
“Maybe he found another family,” Quinn added.
“Yeah. That could be true too,” Jeff said patting Quinn on the head. “Charlie could be living in a new house with better cat food.”
“Mom,” Hayden said tears now streaming down in face, “I want Charlie to live here. I miss him so much.”
I pulled my oldest son to me and he melted into me as a big miss of tears and sobs.
A part of me wanted to chuckle because it had been over two weeks since Hayden had even thought of Charlie but the other part of me ached for my son because he was sad and Charlie was such a good family cat.
I held Hayden as he cried and suddenly, Jake chimed in.
“I know what happened,” Jake said sternly, “I think a tornado came and pickeded up Charlie and whirled him to another place. So don’t be sad Hayden because when there is more tornadoes Charlie will come back to us.”
I couldn’t help but smile. Leave it to Jake to come up with a perfectly un-logical explanation.
We sat together talking about Charlie and remembering him. Jeff and I told the kids that a few years earlier Charlie had been gone for two weeks and then just returned one night. We told them there was hope but we also wanted them to be prepared because we didn’t think that this time he would be back.
Then we just sat in silence, hearts broken for the loss of our beloved cat.
Hayden abruptly pulled his head away from my chest and looked up at me, face wet with tears.
“Does this mean that since Charlie is dead, we can get a dog?” he asked.