They are in Texas for Christmas eight months after being married. They are sitting in the front room getting ready to watch a movie with Ruthanne and the man’s parents. Mom comes in dressed in a nightgown and her slippers, and she carries a bag full of needles.
“Lauren, before I forget,” she says. “I kept these in case you might want them.”
“What are those?” the man says.
“Insulin needles. And I know Lauren is a type I diabetic.”
“Where did you get those?” the man says. “Dad is type II.”
“Dad doesn’t use insulin. We had them for Panther.”
“Who’s Panther?” Lauren says.
“Stephen’s cat,” the man says. He looks at his mom. “Panther took insulin?”
“Oh, this was after you were gone. On your mission, I think. Not to college,” Mom says.
“How did that happen?” the man says. He takes the bag of needles and hands it to Lauren.
She looks them over and hands them back. “They’re not really the right size. And I have tons of my own anyway. But thank you.”
He hands the package back to his mother.
“Okay,” she says. “If they don’t work, I’ll toss them out. We had them because after you left on your mission, Gordon, Panther was really old, and she started peeing everywhere. We brought her to the vet, and the vet told us that she had diabetes and wouldn’t live too long without insulin and even with insulin, she might not live long. It’s next to impossible to monitor a cat’s blood sugar. So we were going to put her down. And since she was kind of Stephen’s cat, I brought him along to say goodbye when she was to be put down. And you know your brother. Probably the softest heart in the family.”
The man nods. “Yep. The Force Recon Marine is the softest in the family.”
“Right,” says Mom. “So he looks up at me with tears in his eyes and says, ‘Can’t we just try it for a little while and see if it works?’ And I couldn’t tell him no, so we brought Panther home with a mound of needles and a bunch of insulin, and if you can believe it, she lived almost two more years.”
“Yep,” Mom says.