The phone was ringing as we walked through the door. I saw on the caller i.d. that it was my mother but I couldn't pick it up. Earlier this morning we took our oldest cat Woody to the vet and had him put to sleep. I wasn't in the mood to talk. I was in the mood to nap. I fell onto one couch and The Skimmer fell onto the other. Our youngest cat Jack jumped up with The Skimmer and curled up beside him.
Lying with my eyes closed, I thought about the day we brought Woody home, a few weeks after we had moved into our first house. After a few minutes I said, "Skimmer? Twenty years goes by awfully fast."
The phone rang. It was my mom again.
"I'd better get this. Something might have happened."
Her voice was hesitant at first because she knew we were thinking of doing what we ended up doing today. I told her that we did it. She was quiet on the other end of the line as I told her that the vet said the reason Woody would stand up, very slowly, and freeze in position for five to ten minutes at a time was probably because he was disoriented, confused. At his age, his behavior was indicative of a neurological problem, which could also be the reason he wouldn't use the litter box anymore. I've been thinking this last year that he was just old and ornery and wanted to go where he wanted to go, dammit. But, now I think he just didn't know where to go. And that I may have let this situation go on too long.
I didn't tell her that afterwards The Skimmer and I sat silently on a park bench surrounded by mums and pink impatiens until we figured there was nothing else to do but drive home. I didn't tell her that because I didn't want to cry so instead I sighed and said, "How was H's game?"
"Well, on a happier note."
H, my 13 year old niece, who has been playing baseball with the boys since she was six, played her last game of the season today. Another team already had first place locked up and H's team was playing for second place. In this league, they still only play seven innings. They had been losing the entire game, and at the bottom of the seventh the bases were loaded when H got up to bat. As she walked past my mom and to the plate, my mom said to her, "Dig deep, H! You can do it."
H stepped up to home plate, took a deep breath, crouched down and got into position.
My heart skipped a beat, "What happened?"
"Very first pitch, she connected and hit that ball a country mile."
I started laughing and burst into tears.
My mom started crying, "She hit a grand slam to win that game!"
"Oh my God. What did she do?"
"She ran around the bases pumping her arms in the air, smiling from ear to ear."
"What did everyone else do?"
"That place went... wild. Just wild!"
"What did yaya do? What did you do?"
"We were crying out eyes out," she sobbed.
"I'm crying my eyes out now! Oh my God, Oh my God. What did the team do?"
"They came barreling out of the dugout yelling and screaming and when she touched home they all jumped on her and they ended up in a big mound rolling around. Just ecstatic!"
"Oh my God. How is she?! She has to be so happy, so happy."
"She's in heaven. Just in heaven."
"Oh, I can't believe it. No, I can believe it. Tell her how proud I am of her and tell her how much I love her."
We hung up and I've been laughing and crying on and off ever since. Thinking about the passage of time, the joy and the sadness, and that I wish my stepfather was still here and could have seen that game.