"Mom, I think Princess is dead! She's not moving, her fur feels weird, and she's curled up into a little ball!"
So, being the calm, collected mother that I am, I immediately screamed,
"Michael!! Get down here, right NOW!" He was just taking his routine 30 minute morning dump-and-read, so I knew he wasn't really busy.
The thought of touching, let alone looking at the dead hamster sent major willies up my spine. Plus, I have a serious, uncontrollable gag reflex. Mike came downstairs, buckling his belt, and quickly confirmed by yelling up the stairs, "Yep, she's gone."
Alex was just hysterical, crying uncontrollably, saying things like, "What am I gonna do now?" and "We were meant for each other!" We snuggled her, hugged her and did everything we knew how to comfort her. The bus came and she went to school with a tear stained face and foggy glasses.
At lunchtime, we visited the kids at school, just to check on Alex's bereavement process. She was glad to see us and seemed to be dealing well with the recent tragedy. We saw her teacher and had a quick chat about the loss. Mrs. Lein is a seasoned, spectacular, super-empathetic, teacher, whom I believe was specifically designed by God to teach 2nd grade. You see, Mrs. Lein recognized how very tragic the loss of a hamster is to a second grader and gave Alex the entire morning to write an obituary for Princess.
Here's what Al wrote,
"Princess was very nice. She all ways liked to run and climb and run up my body. When she was sometimes sleepy she would snuggle up close to my hand. She also was pretty but a little naughty. But, it was a good kind of naughty. Like when she peed in her cage. Or the time she chewed through her first cage ever. I loved her still but I forgot to tell her what good pet she was.
Alex May 23, 2008
To finish out the day and commemorate the 16 month life of our golden hamster, we had a funeral in the backyard after school. Mike had his Bible, Alex cried some more, and we made a small cross out of rocks on the grave.
I must confess that I had to mask a smile as we filed out the back door for the family funeral. Alex was SO upset, and I was perhaps a little bit grateful to be rid of the stench of the hamster cage. But, the Scripture Mike read (Alex insisted that he read a verse or two), was Revelation 21:3-6
" And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" "
At the end of the reading, Mike and I were in tears. Yes, this was a hamster funeral. We were not grieving the specific loss of Princess exactly..........Yet, the redemption and healing that heaven promises brought us to our knees.
Funny how Jesus showed up around the 6 inch grave of a gerbil.