You all remember Izzy, right? Izzy was my wonderful cat who died almost exactly a year ago. She was the best cat. This is her:


Do you see how her white face markings are a perfect upside-down heart? She was as sweet as she was beautiful.

Izzy was the sweetest cat in the world. Sam loved her a lot, but Jack and Quinn really bonded with her. For a long time she slept with Jack at night and they were total cuddle buddies. Once she got older and sick, she retreated back to my bed to sleep, where she could hide from the loudness of the rest of the house.

Even though she has been gone for more than a year, she is practically a daily presence in our house. Quinn talks about her all the time. I think he uses her as a calming tool, especially at night when he is going to sleep. I believe that Izzy is still a very real presence in his life.

Jack doesn’t talk about her all that much anymore, but I know that she is still in his heart.

Today, however, Jack got off of his school bus after school and he was SOBBING. I hugged him and asked him what he was sad about.

“I blank zee blank,” he said.

I thought for a minute and couldn’t figure out what he was saying, so I asked him again.

“I blank zee blank,” he repeated. “I can’t stop thinking about it.”

At this point I thought he was using a little Frenchie accent to say something that he was afraid to tell me, like, “I lost zee library book,” or something like that. Let’s just look past the fact that I accepted the French accent without question.

Finally he managed to tell me that he was thinking about “I-Z-Z-Y.”

He told me that he was sad that Izzy was dead. “Let me tell you about Izzy,” he started reciting, in a tone that let me know this wasn’t the first time he had recited this today. “She was a cat who was the best cat in the world. She was my best friend. As the years passed, she didn’t like me as much. Then one day she died and I was sad for a whole day.”

It took me some time to get him calmed down and relaxed, but I wasn’t able to figure out what had brought this on. What had brought Izzy to the front of his mind so strongly that he was sobbing on his school bus?

Then I opened his school folder and found his daily contract on which his paraeducator had written a note about how he’d gotten stuck on Izzy that day and had been crying at school too. However, behind that was a vocabulary worksheet he’d filled out with pictures and sentences that defined his vocabulary words, one of which was “tragic.”

Jack's sentence: "Izzy is dead and it's tragic."

Jack’s sentence: “Izzy is dead and it’s tragic.”

Well, that would do it.

I’m hoping that future vocabulary words include concepts such as “cremation,” “trauma,” and “scary black spiders.”

19 thoughts on “Tragic

  1. How do you manage to make me laugh and cry in the same post on such a consistent basis? I love that your mind went to Jack speaking with a French accent. It totally makes sense.

  2. We’re having a similar problem here. Only we also have a boy who LOVES dictionaries, so he just picks up words and I can’t even blame the school. You can always tell hen he’s using a new big fancy word in a sentence, because he stresses it in his speech pattern. “Mommy, is it a MISFORTUNE to go to school on a snow day? We shouldn’t go to school on a snow day, Mommy. Mommy, MISFORTUNE is when something is bad luck. Going to school on a snow day is a MISFORTUNE, Mommy.”

  3. That’s uncanny! Our dog Sable passed away about six months ago. This morning we watched a Sesame Street with a song “we are all earthlings” and this afternoon Bear asked me what it meant. Then he started naming family members in his repetitive question way (Is Daddy an earthling? Is Mommy an earthling? Etc), then he named Sable and started crying.

    He still gets very upset about her from time to time, but it caught me off guard for a casual vocabulary question to trigger it.

  4. Wow, this made me well up. Wonderful for Jack to be able to express his feelings. Hopefully he’ll also be able to access the happy memories of life with Izzy…

  5. Favorite part: “Let’s just look past the fact that I accepted the French accent without question.”

    The other day the twins had a vocab word they had to put in a sentence, and that word was very difficult to put in a sentence without digging up sad thoughts. This story would be better if I could remember what that word was.

  6. Oh this made me sad. His picture looks so familiar.
    Our dog has been gone about 2 months now and every once in a while the kids blurt out something about her. My youngest was learning about “community helpers” in preschool and he said he wanted to be a vet. To help other dogs but not his because “my dog is dead.” My middle guy will draw similar pictures (eyes X out and everything) and say “I wish I could teach my dog tricks but she’s dead.” I figure it’s how they will process the grief in their own way at the most unexpected times.

  7. Poor Jack. We lost our beloved dog 6 months ago. Any time we pass the vet where we would take her, my 2nd born scripts the entire conversation we had the day our pup died. “Maggie’s sick. She’s old. She’s not getting better. Maggie’s not coming home.” It breaks my heart. But I know he’s just remembering and processing.
    Hugs for Jack. It stinks to be sad about someone we miss.

  8. I’m sobbing. I want to hug you all. Our cat went to “kitty retirement” on Labor Day weekend. Max looked very similar to Izzy… Black & white. He was the best cat for our family. He loved my boys (well, one and tolerated the other.) we explained it and my 8yo sobbed for days. He grieved. He reminisced. My 5yo seemed to just be ok with it. Months later T still walks into the house yelling “Mr. Max!!!” Every time. We got fish. They both died. It was sad & both boys cried & grieved. Now T talks a lot about how Max died too and how we are petless. His mind is grieving at a whole different rate than his brother… I wasn’t prepared for that.

    Hugs to you all!!!!

  9. Ahhh, poor Jack! I feel for him. Izzy looks just like our cat Phantom, only smaller. Even the black under the chin. We lost our cat Boo last spring and we all mourned. Me, my husband and our 3 other cats. It is so sad to lose a furry friend.

  10. Poor Jack. That would have broken my heart. My first cat died when my daughter was still a baby, but we have her picture up. One day my daughter was looking at it and very sadly said she missed her. Even that made me sad.

  11. It IS tragic, and as a fellow cat-lover I can relate to the sadness of losing a pet.
    However. Jack’s drawing? Absolutely (unintentionally) hilarious. He’s quite the cartoonist.

  12. Yes, guffawing about your thinking Jack was adapting a French accent!!

    But this made me sad, too. OUr cats are elderly, and Tipper, who lets our kids maul her, is probably headed for serious health issues. She was declawed when we adopted her and I know her life isn’t going to be easy.

    Have you ever read “The 10th Good Thing About Barney” by Judith Viorst or “Cat Heaven” by Cynthia Rylant? Super comforting–though I haven’t lost a pet since I discovered either book, so I don’t know how well they’ll hold up once we do lose either cat!! Also, Cynthia Rylant has “Dog Heaven”, too. More waterworks.

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