In the Summer Shadow


A good friend of mine is hurting right now. Her pet, her little bit, is dying. He has led a good life and is well loved. Thinking of the pain she is in reminded me of time when I lost someone close to me, so I thought I would share that day.

Portrait of a male tabby cat
Portrait of a male tabby cat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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            I woke that morning with a start. “Get up! Eric! Ginger’s hurt!” It took a moment for the words to sink in, my head still addled from working the graveyard shift, but when they did, I was out of bed and dressed in a flash.

            “What happened? Where is she?” Ginger was my cat, my best friend and constant companion for the last nine years.

            “Out front, some dogs got her. Oh, Eric.” My sister was crying and scared. I ran outside and was momentarily blinded by the mid-morning sun. The summer heat of Arizona dried tears as they fell.

            “Oh, God! Ginger!” I fell to my knees next to her broken form. Her beautiful brown and black fur was matted, coated in blood and saliva. Her breath came in gasps and a small, weak meow greeted me. “It’s okay, Ginger, we’ll get you to the doctor.” Tears blurred my vision as my family acted. My father got me some cardboard to slide beneath her while my mom put down the seats in the back of her jeep. I carefully lifted her on the cardboard and got her into the back of the Cherokee. My sister and brother climbed in with me while my mom started it up.

            “It’s okay, Ginger, just hold on a little longer.” I sat close, petting her softly, speaking the words like a mantra, hoping that they would help her, knowing they would not. My sister and brother were crying beside me, touching my shoulder, watching her and comforting me. Her breathing turned into sharp gasps. “Please, Ginger, don’t leave me yet.” A couple more breaths, and then she was silent.

“No!” I cried out in primal pain, unable to hold it inside. “Ginger, no. Please don’t die.” I wept openly, like men are not supposed to do. My sister cried and tried to hug me while my brother cried, unable to be closer.

We were only five miles from the house and so my mom turned the car back around without a word. When we got home, I brought her from the car and laid her lifeless body in the shade. I got a shovel from the garage and dug her little grave without asking, or requiring, any help. It was the last thing I could do as her owner and friend.

I placed her broken form in the hole, stroked her cold fur, and cried fresh tears upon her. “Good bye, Ginger. I’ll see you again some day.” I filled in the hole, tears drying in streams down my face.

“I think you chose the right place for her,” my father said, placing his hands on my shoulder.

“Yeah, she always liked sitting beneath these roses.”

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