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A Death in the Family
Louise Linville
February 17, 2002

10:30 p.m.  The phone rings and I pick up. Sobbing - no words.  After a time I hear a child's voice and can tell it's coming from my 7-year-old granddaughter, Amber Rose.  Between sobs, she shares the death of their 14-year-old Maine Coon cat, "Mr. Purr."

Mr. Purr was a stray, who when young found warmth and love at my daughters' door.  He was "king" of the cats and always found my welcoming lap when I visited.

Tears well in my eyes. This black receiver is so cold in my hand. I wish she lived next door, instead of 1,300 miles away.

She tells me she's making a cross for him and keeping his yellow collar to remember him by (it's being put in a special box in her dresser).  His string is being buried with him—the one he liked to chase.  She shares that "his neck is stiff." Then she gulps and says that "his nose is stiff. She bets that "his tail is stiff now too!"  There's a long pause,and, in a halting voice comes the proclamation - "Yup - it is." She says she knows that I loved him too, but not as much as she and mommy. Then she announces that "his ears aren't stiff yet."  

I sigh, and thank her for telling me.  She hangs up, but I hold the receiver a minute longer and tears slide down my cheek.

burial service—
this stiffness
in my back

Louise Linville lives in Florida. Her webpage containing her photography and writing is called "Elle". Her email is: Caladyelle@aol.com