Two and a half weeks have flown by since we lost Lil’ Rick.
Matt picked up his ashes from the vet yesterday. I guess they will mingle with my good crystal until spring rolls back around and we can give him a proper burial. Returned to the earth under rose bushes dedicated in his name.
He was such a part of our routine. The first few nights I kept calling him, annoyed that he didn’t answer.
‘Come on dude, it’s time to go out. I want to go to bed!’
I’d go to grab a cookie, to shake the glass lid that housed them to rouse him from slumber upstairs, and the jar would be gone from the counter top. I’d freeze, futilely fighting the burn at the back of my throat. He’s not coming downstairs because he is no longer here.
We were grateful that Grace really didn’t ask questions about Rick’s where-a-bouts. She would mention him in passing when going through lists of family and things that she loves.
‘We’re going to go to my happy birthday party. You and Me and Daddy and Clare and Maga and Unkey Jer and Ricky!’
‘Ricky isn’t going to your party Love.’
‘Oh. OK. He’s a dog. He can't go.’
And then she would start talking about Curious George or the leaves she picked up off the ground that morning or what she ‘wants for eat’ that night.
We didn’t correct her. It was still too hard of a thing, and we figured why bring pain to her if she’s not specifically asking questions. The other day she asked. Or she said something about him that made us think she should tell her.
‘So Grace, you know how you haven’t seen Rick in awhile?’
‘Yeah. Where is he?’
‘Lil’ Rick had to go away Love.’
‘Oh? Where did he go?’
‘Well, he was really old – way older than you or me or even Maga – and he went away and isn’t going to be able to come back anymore.’
‘Where did he go? I want him to come back.’
‘He died sweetie. You know how the leaves are falling off the trees right now? It’s because the leaves are old and the tree can’t keep them attached anymore. The leaves die. The tree has to let the old ones go. Ricky was kind of like an old leaf.’
‘Oh, OK…. Ricky fell off??’
‘Kind of Grace. He was old and tired and ready to go to heaven.’
‘Oh. OK. I will miss him. Can I have another cookie?’
She’s mentioned him in the same passing ‘things I love’ way a time or two since that conversation, but hasn’t really asked more questions about him.
Nor has she played with the leaves in the morning though.