On his deathbed, my dad asked me if I would take his cat. They were very close, but I barely knew her, since I'd only visited a few times & she was usually out exploring the countryside.
His eyes were bright and shining with a desperate need for reassurance when he looked up at me beside his bed and said, "You'll take Edie, right? You'll take Edie?"
I don't remember what I said, but it wasn't "Yes."
It wasn't "Yes, of course, Dad. Don't worry. I'll take her." I knew that was what he needed to hear, that he needed to know that everyone he loved would be okay when he was gone, but I just couldn't say it.
My mind was racing. How could I take Edie? I couldn't. She was an outdoor cat accustomed to the wide wild fields of Nebraska, and I lived in the middle of a very busy city. I already had two other cats who lived entirely indoors. Could Edie become an indoor cat? Could she be *happy* as an indoor cat? Could my other cats be happy with *her*? How could I even transport her if I was leaving in only a few days?
And yes, I knew I'd be leaving in only a few days. He was looking at me with those desperate eyes & I knew his funeral would be over within the week.
"You'll take Edie, right?"
I don't remember what I said, exactly how I hedged, but as he looked up at me and I didn't say, "Yes," I saw something die in his eyes. His body was dying, but in that moment I killed something inside him that the cancer hadn't touched.
He folded in on himself, shoulders hunching as he looked away from me, still tense with desperation but no longer looking to me for reassurance, no longer believing that reassurance was to be had.
He was dead within the hour, and he would never look at me like that again, like he needed something from me, like I had the power to save him from something dark and frightening that was creeping up on him from the inside, as if I could rescue him by rescuing this little sould into which he'd poured so much love.
Some little girls have daddies who are heroes who come to save them. Not me. My daddy was the one who needed saving.
I wonder if Edie is happy.
Note: Looking back, this piece is particularly interesting given my thoughts in the past two days about the fact that I hadn't even thought to ask anyone to help me by giving me a ride to my surgery in Walnut Creek on the 14th. I've gotten better about asking for help & for accepting that asking for help is completely okay and not feeling bad about it, but it still hadn't occurred to me. I'm used to doing everything myself if I can manage it, even if that means it's all tremendously more difficult than it would be if someone helped me.
BTW, I asked Shannon to come with me to the surgery, and he readily agreed, even though he is the furthest thing from a "morning person" I've ever known. We were going to take BART together, but then I got ermail from Katherine offering to drive us there.
So Katherine is going to drive Shannon and me to Walnut Creek, Shannon is going to stay while I wait & have surgery, and then Crystal is going to pick us up and drive us home. And other friends also offered to go with me, though that was after I'd already settled things with Shannon, Katherine, and Crystal.
Instead of me doing everything on my own, it's a jumbo combo pack of support from loved ones. I feel much less anxious now.
I'm very lucky to have such great people in my life ... but I'll also take some credit for finding them, holding them close, and being the kind of friend to them that makes them want to help me in return.
Yeah, yeah, we all rock.