Daddy, I Have a Heartache
When I started writing this blog a few months ago, one of the very first things I wrote about was a trip that my daughter Meghan and I took to the dentist. It was a visit that ended up being more traumatic for me than it was for her. She was only 4 years old and getting her first tooth pulled. Meghan was a trooper all the way, but the sight of my little girl in physical pain was almost more than I could bear to watch. At the time, I didn't think there could be anything worse than that for me or for her to go through. But as a first-time parent, I am continually learning new things every day.
And recently I learned that I was wrong in my initial assumption: There is definitely something worse than seeing your child hurting physically. There is a pain that doesn't always heal over time. A kind of pain that there is no bandage for. It is watching a child deal with a broken heart.
Picture this: It is the night before Thanksgiving, and you are getting ready to go away for the holiday with your family. Your 18-year-old cat Munchie, your wife's long-time companion and your daughter's favorite pet, has not been doing well for a while. The last thing you want is for your wife and daughter to come home from the holiday weekend and find that their beloved cat has passed while you were away. So after a long emotional talk with your wife, you both decide that it might be best to end Munchie's suffering. The appointment is made for that night. You sit your daughter down, explaining to her that Munchie is getting older, how she is in pain and it is her time.
My daughter Meghan has always surprised me with how grown up she can be. This experience was no different. The only thing Meghan asks is if she can hold Munchie one last time to say goodbye before the trip to the vet. Mommy and Meghan pick up Munchie together. They hold their cat close, telling her they love her and will miss her.
Munchie curls into them, lets out a long purr, something she hasn't done in weeks. And then content and satisfied, Munchie shudders once, then twice, and dies quietly in their arms. So much for making this EASIER on everyone! There is nothing in the parenting manual for this situation! And my wife Lori is no help at all, because she is crying even harder than Meghan at that moment. Wow, Meghan really impressed me though. She insisted on bringing Munchie to the vet with me, a trip that her mother couldn't bring herself to make. Meghan cried all the way to the vet and all the way home, even waking up in tears in the middle of the night. However, she got through it. Meghan was strong when she needed to be and even comforted her mom a few times over the weekend. As a parent, it is amazing to see how mature and grown up my daughter is becoming, at only 6 years old. I think the next pet will be something that lives longer though…maybe a turtle— or a nice tree.