This morning I woke with you in my arms. “What time is it?” you asked me. “Time for school, kiddo.”
You rolled over, all arms and legs, and groaned. Moments later you sat down at the kitchen counter in running shorts and a hoodie. “Casual day today, huh?” You smiled.
“So. Being eleven has pretty much sucked so far, huh?”
You laughed and your eyes filled with tears. I turned away and offered to make you some eggs for breakfast. I don’t usually cook in the morning but I wanted to be busy and I couldn’t look at you. I knew if you looked me in the eyes you would try to stay home with me today. I can’t ever fool you.
“It’s just that everything we do all day will make us miss him even more, Mom. It will really feel real when I get off the bus. Even though it’s different now, like he doesn’t run down the driveway anymore, he still comes out…”
You stood and I wrapped you in my arms. You have grown so tall. And you have grown into this warm, compassionate, funny girl. We held onto one another in the kitchen until Lucy barged in and broke up our sobfest.
Yesterday, after Fisher was gone, we were sitting in the living room, you and me and Dad. I mentioned that I should probably throw out his dog bed before one of us was curled up in it, breathing in his scent and sobbing. Dad broke the silence as he said “Yeah, Mom is really trying to help me save face here because I was just about to do that…” Your laughter was so perfectly right on time.
Not an hour before Fisher was gone you were eating an oatmeal raisin cookie and you broke off a little piece for him You stopped and pulled your hand back “But the raisin….” and we all laughed. You have my same horrible sense of humor. But you have a quiet confidence that didn’t come from me. I love it.
Em, I am sorry that this birthday will always be the day before Fisher died. But I will never forget the gracious, loving, incredible young woman you turned into when you were only eleven years and one day old. I asked you if you wanted to be in the room when Fish was put to sleep and you said that you did. And then I asked you for a difficult favor. “Baby, I am going to need to be there for Fish. And just kind of do everything I need to do for me to let him go, if you’re there, too, I am going to need you to just kind of take care of you for a minute and I feel awful even saying that…” You interrupted me to assure me that you knew that already and that you’d be fine.
The veterinary assistant was carrying Fisher to the front door when you sat down in my lap and put your head onto my chest. “Oh, Mommy….” Together, we wept.
This morning the bus pulled up at the bottom of the driveway and I kissed you quickly and said “Don’t worry about me today.” You smiled back at me. “Impossible.”
You’re incredible, Emily June. I love you and your big puppy feet.