Saturday, May 24, 2008

R.I.P. Princess

Friday morning started like any other day, with Mike and Caleb awake at dawn and Alex and I sleeping in until the last possible moment. We got dressed for school, had breakfast, brushed teeth, and had 20 minutes to spare until the bus came. Alex went down to Princess the hamster's room (storage closet, we didn't actually give a hamster its own room) to check on her. Thirty seconds later, Alex came screaming bloody murder up the stairs. 

"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.


  1. I hope Alex is getting past this tragedy! I remember having two hamsters as a child. One night, the bigger hamster ATE the other one. It was very traumatic. My mother grabbed the perpetrator, ran into the backyard, yelled "I just don't know what to do with you!" and pitched the hamster over our fence.

  2. I love Kristen's story too!

    Poor Alex- I am so sorry for your loss. Princess was a good girl. RIP. Jodie you are such a good story teller. I love the part of Michael's 30 min dump & read. I love getting bits of every day Howerton life from your blog! We love you!

  3. Jodie, I was just in your city this month. I went to a writer's conference with Shannon Woodward. I am in love with that city!!

    I'm in Canada... brrrr....

  4. You make a tragic story so funny! I would love the be the fly on your wall.

    Our sad story?... :)

    My nephew TJ was en route to our place last summer with Hammy in a shoe box to show my kids his furry new brother. Little Hammy poked his head out of the box to see what all the comotion was and TJ's reflex was to slam the lid down with his chubby little fist. The end....

  5. I love all the hamster stories :)

    "We were meant for each other!" - that's so sweet. I couldn't help but giggle the through the whole story.

    Having kids is such a rich reward!

  6. Soooo sorry about Princess--yes, we had a few such losses in the childhoods of Michael, Mark and Sarah! You and Michael, as always handled it with such love and dignity!! Your children are blessed!


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