I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
“I’m so sorry,” the vet said, both before and after she put Trinity, our 15 year old cat, to sleep.
I really hadn’t expected it to hit me the way it did. The tears kept welling up as I stroked her matted fur.
Trinity had always been so independent. She called the shots. She let us know when she wanted to come in or go out. In fact, from the very beginning, she had refused to be an indoor-only cat. She jumped on the table, even though I told her not to. She jumped on the counter, another no-no. She would stealthily sneak past us into basement which we tried to keep her out of for her own good; more than once she got locked in there for no fault but her own. Likewise, she would sneak upstairs to sleep on our beds and vomit on our carpet.
Nobody could tell Trinity what to do.
I guess that’s why I liked her so much. I saw me in her.
This past Sunday, at church, there was a suitcase in the front of the sanctuary. Our pastor told us that it was heavy, full of books, in fact, and invited us to come hold it for a while during the sermon. The sermon was on forgiveness and included references to the burden that non-forgiveness can be, but really the illustration works for anything that’s a burden.
A young-ish man lifted it first. After a few minutes, another man took the load. Then another.
I’m really not a feminist, per se, but I knew that I could carry a suitcase full of books as well as any man, so I went next.
It was heavy, but not impossible.
A man relieved me of my burden. Then another man relieved him. An elderly man took it and hoisted it to his shoulder, and I couldn’t decide if it was easier to hold it up there, or if he just wanted to show how strong he was.
Meantime, I was busy patting myself on the back for being the only woman to carry the heavy suitcase.
When an older woman from the choir started to come down for the suitcase, she was joined by another woman from the back of the church. Together they held the burden.
Then two more women came. And two more.
The flood gates had opened for the women to participate, but they did it in pairs.
I was the only woman to hold it alone.
I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
Because when I took Trinity to the vet, I was alone again.
After she had been euthanized, I scooped her little body into my arms, and held her in a snuggle she would never have allowed in life. Her head lolled, and I cradled it, gently, lovingly. Her tail hung down, fluffy, but lifeless, like the tail of dead squirrel that flops in the road with the gust of a passing car.
I had brought a box that she nestled in perfectly.
Then I sat in the driver’s seat and cried. Alone.
In the end, Trinity had not been independent. She had needed me to see her through.
And in the end, I’m not so independent either.
I wished I had a shoulder to cry on.
Or someone to share the burden with me.