Have you ever had one of those weeks where you think: “This can’t get much worse?” and then it does. As in the hamster dies.
Last week included two parent teacher conferences at two different schools, two fevers, three doctor visits, three evening functions, Girl Scout cookies, piano lessons, two playdates (I feel like Noah in the amount of things that happen by twos!) –really do I need to continue?
So by Wednesday I was pretty much shot when, as I was helping someone (can’t really remember which one) with homework and Marc yells, “Maddie! I think Max is dead!”
God bless my husband. I’m not good with vomit or death. So, I froze. But Scott immediately leaped up from his desk and started making a bee line to Max’s cage and Marc. Everyone followed and. . .I’m embarrassed to admit this. . .I decided (yes, I actually considered ignoring the whole thing but I’m taking this parenting class. . .) to also go over to the cage.
Sure enough, the poor guy was dead. Scott gently picked him up with a grocery bag and showed him to everyone. I looked away. Guilt?
You see, I’m partly to blame. I’m pretty sure that he had wet tail, which is an infection that if not treated immediately results in death within two days. A couple of days earlier Maddie had shown me Max’s bottom and it was green and gunky and we looked it up on the internet to see if we could confirm the issue. We weren’t sure. I could have (in retrospect should have) taken him to the vets. . .but–okay, just reread the second paragraph–I opted to “wait-and-see.”
Wait-and-see obviously ended in a funeral, which Scott quickly started organizing.
Marc, who was the most devastated by Max’s demise, started calling his Denver support system beginning with Grandma Judy. Grandma listened and commiserated and offered words of condolence. Marc also wanted to call Aunt Sam, who is an ER doc and often has a crazy schedule, but Grandma suggested that maybe she wouldn’t be available. (He’s had a crush on Sam ever since Jon introduced her to us and she is that perfect combination of empathy and good advice.)
After Scott had a hole in the backyard ready, Marc grabbed the US flag because this was going to be a burial with honors.
I had to intervene in the burial arrangements when Scott started looking up funeral music on Pandora. I felt we had probably crossed some line into hamster macabre.
Scott had everyone go around and say a favorite memory of Max. I liked that part because it was so sweet and everyone participated. My favorite memory was of Max running away because he was a hamster who, like me, loved to travel.
We also said the “Our Father” and I though that that was okay, too. Dylan had his shovel ready to help with the burial.
Even though the hamster was Maddie’s, it was Marc who expressed his feelings the strongest. The only time we saw a clink in her armor was when Scott placed Max in the grave and Dylan was covering him up with dirt, “Are you sure, Dad, he is dead?”
This was possibly the first death that has ever affected them. We were sad. We made plans. We remembered and laughed. We had a ritual. We prayed.
And then we went inside and had dinner together.