Cheryl Hughes: Passage
When we pulled into our driveway on Sunday afternoon, I started to cry. “What’s wrong?” Garey asked. “I miss my Sabria,” I said. “You just spent an entire weekend with her,” Garey said. “I know,” I said, as I began unloading our car from our trip to Alabama. We went to Aggie’s house (Garey’s mom) to exchange Christmas presents. Natalie, Scott and Sabria went, as well.
What I couldn’t explain to Garey was that I miss the little girl our granddaughter, Sabria, was. She’s almost nine now, and more interested in YouTube than any of the imaginary games we played when she was younger. While we were at Aggie’s house, we played Sonic Monopoly and she shot her BB gun with Garey then she spent a large chunk of time on her mom’s phone watching videos on YouTube.
I remember when my youngest daughter, Nikki, reached that age. Garey came into the bedroom where I was crying in order to check on me. “I’ve lost my Nikki,” I told him. I think what I cried for in both Nikki’s case and Sabria’s is the loss of their individuality. When kids reach a certain age, it’s like they get absorbed into a collective: adolescents, teenagers, young adults. They stop being uniquely themselves. They will become uniquely themselves again on the other side of those transitional years, but it is heart-breaking to watch what is lost during the process. (I tease my oldest daughter, Natalie, about being 26 when she was born. Natalie and I have always pretty much had an adult relationship from the beginning, and I think we will always be close.)
When we’re with Aggie, I can feel the loneliness she feels, because Garey lives so far away; and even when she stays with Garey’s sister, Charlotte, she’s pretty much by herself, because Charlotte works every day then has a gazillion home improvement projects going on when she gets in from work. Aggie is blind in one eye, and she’s lost so much strength in her ninety-one-year-old body that she has to use one of those rolling walkers to get from point A to point B. She finishes up her physical therapy this week at Charlotte’s house, so we’re hoping she will stay with us for at least a couple of weeks. The loneliness of separation from the living is something nobody should have to endure. There are times when I want to be alone by choice, but being forced to be alone, because nobody will take time to be with you is unfair to people, like Aggie, who have loved you all your life.
When we left for the weekend, we had to put down extra food and water for our cat, Figaro, who is seventeen years old and blind in one eye. We dare not leave him outside, because there are too many vicious critters that could get hold of him. I left the radio on NPR for him, so he could hear the sound of human voices, but he was overjoyed at the sound of our voices when we came into the house. He cried and purred and cried and purred some more. After we gave him what we considered to be considerable attention, Garey went down to his shop, and I went into my BBC room to watch a British mystery on Prime.
After about ten minutes, I heard the most mournful cry I have ever heard Figaro make. He was lonely. I went into our bedroom where he was standing on our bed continuing to make that same cry. “Here, Figgie,” I said, as I picked him up, “You come in here with me.”
He sat beside me in my chair as I rubbed him. He purred until he had had enough then he bit me, jumped down, nudged the door open and made his way to the food bowl. I guess it doesn’t take cats as long to recover from loneliness as it does people.