It was a sad morning in our home today. My Anna discovered that her dear hamster, Mousey, had left us. Anna has such a soft spot in her heart for all of God's little creatures and, of course, this goes double for her own dear pets. She wept and wept. There was no consoling her until she got her tears out. I tried to tell her that Mousey had a great life. She was 3 1/2 years old which is a lot in hamster years. When I looked in her cage, she looked totally peaceful. She was even curled up with one of the little plastic strawberries that Anna had given to her after she saw the mice at the zoo had some just like it. It was just her time.
Death. What a hard thing to explain to your child. I told Anna that it is a part of life and it hurts like crazy for the rest of us. We talked about little Mousey scampering around heaven with God. We placed Mousey in a pretty blue check box with her plastic strawberry and tied it closed with a pink ribbon. We carried her out to the little apple tree by the creek that has become the final resting place of many of our pets and buried her. Patrick joined us and we said a little prayer to thank God for the gift of our time with Mousey and Anna placed the first handful of dirt. Then we finished the job and placed stones on her little grave. Anna gathered dandelions and apple blossoms to decorate it. A fitting farewell to Mousey.
Mousey was a totally sweet and docile little creature. She could withstand the love and attention of many small and careless hands and was never mean. To set the record straight, we believe Mousey was really a boy, but when we first got him, we weren't sure and my girly girl, Anna, decided to call him a her. As he matured, we became fairly certain that she was in fact a he, but by that time we were all in the habit of referring to him as a girl. Thankfully, Mousey never seemed to have any psychological issues with this from as much as we could tell.
I think one aspect of Anna's mourning is not just for the lost of her loved pet, but also for the loss of merely having a pet to hold and play with. After many requests, I gave in to a trip to the pet store this afternoon and Anna is now the proud owner of a little dwarf hamster named Sam. Anna informed me that Sam can't take the place of Mousey, but he does make it a little easier to let her go. Death from the perspective of an 8 year old.
Now for death from the perspective of a 3 year old. Patrick's take on this whole Mousey thing is much different than Anna's. He was the one today to inform me that something was wrong with Mousey as I was making my way up the stairs to check on Anna's crying. You just don't know exactly what is going on inside the mind of one that age. He is very unemotional and matter of fact in the way he discusses that Mousey is not moving any more, but she is not sleeping. When I shared with Daddy and Elizabeth about Mousey, Patrick said in a serious tone, "Mousey's dead, but we didn't flush her. We buried her." I am not really sure where that came from, but it did give me a chuckle. Oh my! Death. Definitely not an easy subject to explain to your child.