Had an interesting experience today with the Ferguson. Our eldest cat, Bartholomew, made a rare appearance on the main floor of the house this morning. I was getting dressed, and Ferg saw him come into the room. He seemed excited, and he went to play with Bartholomew (which usually tends to be kind of rough), and I said, "Be careful with him, he's sick. He's going to die soon."
While I don't know this for certain, I'm pretty sure that Bartholomew is on his last legs. We've noticed that over the past month or so, he's slowed down a lot. And he's lost a ton of weight. He used to be an absolutely gigantic cat - not just in girth, but in height too. Very lion-like (especially when shaved like this). Now he's just skin and bones. He spends most of his time on a chair in the basement, just taking it easy and sleeping. Other than that, he doesn't appear to be in any pain, and he's in good spirits. He still comes up to me and wants to be petted, and he still purrs like crazy. If he were suffering at all we'd definitely take him to the vet, but for now everything seems to be OK - he's just slowly going down hill, which is to be expected with a cat his age.
Anyway, we have been talking about Barth's impending demise for a few weeks now, even around the kids. We haven't held anything from them. That's why I unabashedly told Ferg, "He's sick. He's going to die soon." It's nothing different than what we've told him the last few weeks. But this morning, something must have clicked in Ferg's head when I said this, because he got an incredibly sad look on his face, and the tears slowly started to fall. I gave him a hug, and then he went to see Mom and give her a hug too. Rather than get into a sin and death talk, we just decided that for now he should know that things eventually die. And we made sure to let him know that this is part of the way God has made the world. Things die (and pretty soon, we'll begin talking about why they die). He seemed to be able to accept that.
Eventually the tears went away, the cat went back down into the basement, and everything was hunky dory again. It's interesting to see how much kids can understand.