We have a small window to perform our ceremony – in between the comings and goings of teenagers.
A line forms and we sing “Amazing Grace” while walking to the burial place in the corner of the yard. Our daughter and her friend dug the hole earlier. To make sure it was big enough they placed Trouble the dog in the hole but he quickly jumped out.
Seasons have changed for the children as well. A Cub Scout is now a Boy Scout who will be doing his Eagle project on Saturday. A small girl, who was always the first to jump into the swimming pool, is still the first to try most things in our house.
Our procession takes us underneath the flowering crabapple. The sweet scent follows. I lay down the paper bag holding our beloved.
There is a discussion about whether to bury Angel in the shirt that he is wrapped in. I kneel, gently cover his black and white face with the fabric so dirt won’t fall into his eyes. My stomach constricts. I straighten. Jody hands the girl the shovel.
There was a day when the children were ten months old that I thought they would be that age forever. I could not see past that day to this one. Parenting was hard work. Parenting was demanding. It still is, but in a different way. Now I need to stay attuned to who they are, what they are doing. I can’t be any less present. Because I need to be there if only to say, I see you. I am watching you. Give me your phone.
After our ceremony, as they are rushing off, I pull down the branches of the apple tree and smell the white flowers that within days will fall off the branches.
I want to shout to the children’s departing backs that I’ll never give up. No matter how hard parenting may become, I’ll never give up.
Angel our cat is gone. He had a good life. I have a good life. And, you are worth it.