Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Day that Pepper Died.

Yesterday Jada’s hamster, Pepper, died.
We committed his body to the trash. Ashes to trashes. Dust to Dump.
(is that sacrilegious to say of a rodent?)

I’d love to say that we had a moment for him, but we didn’t. Instead I stood there looking into the reddened eyes of my big 12 year old who was crying like she’d lost her best friend. I felt somewhat irritated at first, wanting to remind her that she never cared about him before. And then I thought back to the first day we brought the little hamster home.

The day after we brought Pepper home with us, I noticed that she had a lame hind foot. “Oh Great” I thought, this silly thing is going to die in a week. When I asked Jada if we should take Pepper back for an ‘exchange’ she held fast to the little ball of fluff and said “No! We need to give her a chance to live mom!” And so Pepper walked on 3 legs and kind of pushed with the other. We were this hamster’s saving grace. Accepting her the way she was. It was endearing, for awhile.

Then, I remembered the day that Jada found out that Pepper was a boy, in a way that is a bit too graphic to repeat here. I believe her exact reaction was much the same as it was yesterday-crying hysterically. After that she lost all interest in Pepper. She had to be reminded to clean his cage, change his water, and feed him. Frequently I did most of the care taking. Pepper had become...a chore. He would get out of his cage and Josh and I would spend hours trying to find that little ticking stink bomb before he got into the walls and died or something. He ran in his clattery wheel at night waking up the whole house as all the food he stored in it during the daytime would chickerey-chat around over and over like loose change in the dryer. “What IS the life expectancy of a hamster?” We’d always ask each other.

It was this very thought I was thinking as I continued to search Jada’s so sad face now.
But instead of spending this moment arguing about her odd reaction to things that didn’t matter now, I hugged my daughter tight and felt grateful that she has such an compassionate heart, a trait that isn’t so common these days.
And as I hugged her, behind her back... my husband and I traded a “thumbs up" and a grin.


Anonymous said...

Yea, I agree...

In the past we went through our pets.. as our (now 22 yr old) son, Matthew learned how to take care of:

a little black snake, named "Itsy,
a rooster, a duck, a rabbit (named Thumper, of course), a gerbil, a lot of hamsters, gold fish, beta fish, a rat, a horse (won in a school contest that was too sick to keep), a golden retriever (Shelley) that lived 12 years, and that was the last pet we had, so now no more pets, since we travel more!

Ditto, thumbs up! :-)

Destiny said...

Ashes to trashes. Dust to Dump! ha!!!