Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day, Interrupted

What started off full of promise ended up quite unexpectedly.

We woke up to our youngest, who figured out how to get out of his bed - yes, he's 2.5, but it's called a Crib Tent and he somehow managed to figure that out and was playing with the loudest toys first thing this morning. Neil asked if I wanted to have a lazy morning and while that sounded like a nice plan, my head filled with visions of a packed church at 11:30 Mass with all the other moms an their families who *also* decided to have a lazy morning. So, we were up and ready to go at our usual time, saw all the familiar faces that make Sunday morning such a treat and I designated two kiddos to get the annual Mother's Day flower from the altar after Mass.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up all the 'fixin's' for our Mothers' Day brunch. We had planned on cheesy scrambled eggs, maple sausage and bacon, and a hearty fruit salad. The kids would have chocolate milk {a rare treat in our house} as well as OJ and coffee for me and Neil.

Nothing too out of the ordinary, right?

We get home, everyone helps unload groceries, the kiddos scamper off to change out of their church clothes {which usually translates getting back into jammies - totally ok with me!}, and Neil and I start to prep for our brunch. It's getting late, I'm starving and making the fruit salad. I started by chopping the apples, then the strawberries that I had to fight to keep out of Drew's mouth, and had moved on to the grapes when {I believe it was} Ashley says the cat is sleeping outside...and it's sprinkling. We drop what we're doing and bolt to the back door to check it out. All six of us are staring out the backdoor and Templeton is laying in what appears to be a normal position.

Only his tail is completely poofed - a sign of distress. I don't know why my pregnant self thought it was my responsibility to be the first one to go out there. Neil stayed inside with the kids while I went out and shut the door behind me. I nearly gasped. Heck, I'm pretty sure I did gasp. I immediately turned around and looked at Neil through the glass. There was no hiding my emotions from the kids. I went inside and instructed them to go upstairs to the playroom. They knew he was dead. Neil and I went outside to investigate exactly what happened. We concluded that his "breakaway" collar had somehow gotten caught in his mouth along with part of his tags. He most likely asphyxiated on his own tongue, something that makes me cringe.
His body was not cold, so this had happened sometime while we were gone to Mass. He had gone outside when we left for church - I remember commenting about his drinking from our water feature next to the front door.

Then all the what-ifs went through my head. What if we had gone to the later Mass instead, as Neil had suggested? What if we didn't stop at the store? There was no way to know *when* it happened. But that didn't seem to stop those kinds of questions from running through my head like some perpetual scrolling marquee. The reality is that this beloved and loyal pet had died from a freak accident, leaving us at a loss as to how to deal with this death. Templeton was 12 years old and picture perfect health for an 'old man' cat. I think the thought that worries me the most, is that he died by himself. For all his years of service and love to our family, we weren't even here in his final moments, moments that were no doubt filled with panic and fear. You see, Templeton and I go back a long way. I have always had a soft spot for animals, particularly our pets. No, I don't buy them health insurance or dress them up in doll clothes, but I have a special affinity the way St. Francis does towards animals. I have saved his life a couple of times and he knew that. We had a special bond that was solidified each time he squashed me flat in the middle of the night, lol. I had even given him a middle name so I could appropriately scold him. Years ago, we had another cat and they were like brothers. They both had middle names. Marley and Templeton...except I beefed up their names and called them Christopher Marley and Templeton Joseph. They knew when they were in trouble!
{never one to miss out on catching some rays cat style, Templeton *loved* to be outdoors roaming, drinking water from our water feature, harassing the birds, annoying the dogs next door, and playing with the kids}

So, instead of celebrating Mother's Day with our typical cheer and family fun time, along with our annual picture of me with the kiddos, we spent the day eating our brunch with very little conversation, stopping along the way to cry and mourn our dear pet of 12 years. We worked our way through the grief by talking to the kids and hugging them and letting them know it's ok to cry. And what would have been an afternoon spent watching movies and munching on snacks, was spent watching Neil dig a hole {no easy task in Central Texas with all the limestone} while I sat next to Templeton and recalled memories and cried a little bit here and there.

Templeton Joseph - January 11, 1998 - May 9, 2010

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