I will never not break inside when I see my child hurt. It is one of the hardest part of parenting. I mean the big hurt, the shoulder shaking sobs that just break my heart. In those moments, I always just pray I keep myself together for my girls, so they can just feel what they need in those moments.
The other night, after a very cold baseball game, we settled in to watch a few Golden Girls episodes and warm up before bed. Amelia went to grab Pinky, her pet rat. I saw her lean down and open the cage… and look in. She touched him and he was cold. She was immediately upset, filled with worry and pain for her pet. She broke into sobs and I got moving. I took Pinky out and assured her he had passed in his sleep, he looked so calm. I wrapped him in a small blanket and handed him to her to hold. She pet him and felt his hands… the only time she ever felt his whole hand because he usually pulled away. I grabbed my clay and my ink pads… we sat and made clay imprints of his paws, nose and tail so she would have a physical and tangible keepsake to feel. I loaded his paws with in and printed them into little cards for her to save, to write all that she loved about him. She cried for a long time, and woke up emotional.
Through it all I just tried to calm her and reassure her that he was not hurting, that he is with Madeline and she is probably showing off her rat right now. She asked if we could bury him and I of course agreed. Lucy has been hanging on to her friends (Jack and Jake) the Hissing Cockroaches who passed for months. She wanted to bury them as well. So… we set out to have a funeral yesterday and celebrate the lives of our friends who are no longer here.
It was a process for the girls to prepare final resting places, dig holes, set up chairs for the services and of course write Eulogies. Just before dinner last night they called Rick and I to the yard for the services, Lucy was the ‘Priest’ and she led to service. She spoke about each of the pets and how they lived good lives and we all hope they Rest in Peace. Amelia wished for Pinky that he was as happy in heaven with Madeline as he was here on Earth. I thought it was pretty profound…
Some might roll their eyes at this loss, but I will tell you loss is loss. We cannot and should not avoid the feelings associated, the hurt and the missing. My girls know what it is like to miss the most amazing sister. They know what it feels like to wake up one morning to not have that skin next to them, and now the fir… or in Lucy’s case the exoskeleton. Loss is loss, pain is pain. Not honoring or feeling it is a injustice. Some kids can lose a hamster or 20 and be ok, to others it is a heartbreaking reminder of moving on without.
When Madeline died, I learned a lot about how to memorialize and remember. I try to get to every child and pet to make clay imprints. I try to get those ink prints… so later we can find them and remember. I know that having a tangible keepsake can be a priceless gift to someone who is missing another. I also learned that we all do it DIFFERENTLY, respect the different. I knew in the moment I saw Amelia’s shoulders sink and heard her words… that I would let her do this the way she needed. I honored Lucy’s desire to double up on the funeral and lay Jack and Jake to rest… I also looked forward to them not being on her dresser. When Jack and Jake passed Lucy held each of them in their last moments, she wanted to make sure that when they left they were ok. She knew her job as their ‘mom’ was to get them to their final place as comfortably as she could. Now they all lay under my trees… with lilacs and simple petals over top.
As Rick and I sat and listened to the girls I thought about how thoughtful and compassionate they are. He messaged me later and told me the same. I love those girls fiercely, just as I am loved by Him- Fiercely. I am grateful for all the moments we keep accumulating, I am honored that He gifted Madeline to us for her moments. My girls are grateful for the moments they had with the pets, kids, they loved.
In our back yard, our little hideaway back yard, now lies some of our missing friends… they will be there for the adventures, BBQs, swinging, bonfires, lawn mowing and laying in the hammock with us. I love our little retreat… I love my girls compassion and simple faith. I remind myself another day- God is GOOD, always.