When I was a little girl, our family had a canary named Charlie. He was probably a she because he didn’t sing much, but we loved him anyway.
Charlie was a birthday gift for my mother. He was supposed to be a secret, but when my dad and older sister wouldn’t let me pet him when they brought him home, I stormed into the living room where my mother was sitting and told her, indignantly, “They wouldn’t let me touch that bird!”
Mom, of course, acted surprised at the unveiling later that evening and Charlie took his place in the corner of our family room for the next several months.
It was my little brother’s job to take the cloth off Charlie’s cage every morning and feed him some seed. My dad was always there to “help,” which was a good thing since one morning, Charlie was lying, feet up, on the bottom of his cage. This upset my brother immensely, but, being the tough little camper he was even at age 3, he didn’t cry. He got mad. He walked into the bathroom, where our mother was brushing her teeth, and declared, “Charlie died last night I said,” and walked out, slamming the door.
And so it was with us the last few days – anger and sadness over the death of a beloved pet. Yesterday, my pregnant daughter and her husband had to put down the best cat who ever lived, little Apple. She caught a freak case of pneumonia after being spayed last week, and her 7-pound body just couldn’t fight it.
Apple was born in a barn last August and had lots of brothers and sisters, and her “owner” was a kid named James who took really good care of her. But James’s house caught fire and burned to the ground in October and his family couldn’t care for Apple and her siblings much longer. My daughter fell in love with the little brown and orange kitty and named her Apple.
Apple loved to play with the little porcelain covers from the bolts that held the toilet to the floor. She’d toss them down the stairs and chase them all the over the house. Her best day was when Cassie and Matt installed wood floors. Those little covers FLEW across the room with Apple in hot pursuit.
The doctors tried everything to keep little Apple alive, but her lungs couldn’t clear themselves. Cassie was mad and sad and called me sobbing. Apple died last night, she said. She and Matt buried her under the trees in the back yard.
But the scales of life tilted in our favor today with the heartbeat of a baby, my little grandbaby. At Cassie’s doctor’s appointment today, its little heart sounded out loud and strong, and at that moment, life was balanced again. Sadness was sidelined, put into perspective.
It’s been a long few days. Hell, it’s been a long old month.
Apple died last night, I said.
I’m alive and well and growing, my grandbaby said.
Thank god for little indignant voices.