Am I Dying?

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote, but the biggest change is that we’re currently living amongst dozens of boxes in a rental apartment two floors up from where Weevy has lived her entire life. We’re preparing to move, in a weird, piecemeal kinda way — it’s a long, boring story, trust me.

Weevy’s been through a lot of stuff by age 7 that I never went through. I didn’t lose a relative or my childhood home until I was in my mid 20s. She lost her grandfather (my dad) and her cat last year, and now she’s losing the only home she’s ever known. The plan is to move somewhere bigger and better, of course, but for now she’s sleeping on a mattress on the floor, with most of her toys in storage. It’s a hell of a lot to deal with for a little kid, especially a super-sensitive girl that will, and frequently does, burst into tears at the drop of a hat.

We sold my late father’s apartment a couple of months before preparing to put our place on the market, so I don’t know if her subconscious put two and two together and came up with the notion that moving = death. But once we packed up our home and moved upstairs, she suddenly started missing Oliver, aka BooBoo, our old cat. Oliver was… he was one of a kind. He was never very cuddly. His purr was very soft and quiet, but his meows were of such volume that my cat-sitting neighbor admitted to us that she worried he was being tortured. As he got old and frail, he took to peeing on our pillows. He was a damaged fellow in many ways, but we loved him in spite of everything. That said, the whole family has delicately confessed that we like our current cat, Princess — a joyously happy, active girl who loves nothing more to leap onto my shoulders and be cradled like a baby — just a wee bit more than we liked Oliver.

Which didn’t stop Weevy from crying every night for weeks. “I miss BooBoo!” she would sob.  “Why did he have to die?!” “Well, sweetie,” we’d explain, “He was very old for a cat, and he was very sick.” “But I miss himmmmm!” she’d wail.  It became a fucking bedtime tradition for her to be totally inconsolable about her cat — who’d died more than a year earlier, mind you — for 5-10 minutes every night.

“I miss BooBoo” eventually morphed into “Am I dying?” The cause of her potential demise was usually what she called “an oogly tummy.” It took us a while to determine that it was not, in fact, pain she was feeling, but a combo of that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach when you’re, say, 7 years old and have to go to school, plus the effects of an absolutely horrific diet for which me and my beautiful spouse are largely responsible. Dinner is, often as not, a couple of bowls of Rice-A-Roni followed by an Eskimo Pie and a rainbow cookie. The lunches we pack for her on school days are almost entirely processed, sugar-laden carbs. It’s a small miracle that she doesn’t have rickets or scurvy or something.

Slowly we realized that at least part of her death fears are probably related to the changes going on in her life.  She still eats like a pig while remaining a veritable stick figure (she’s got her daddy’s metabolism), she’s still pretty cheerful, and after a while, she started asking “Am I dying?” with a knowing grin instead of with real concern. But she was still a little thrilled when she got the flu last week: “Can I die from the flu?” she said with a trace of worry but more excitement in her voice. “No, sweetie, it’s just like a bad cold.” “Are you SURE I can’t die from it?” And so the drama continues — for Weevy, at least.