Day 10: Life goes on...

I think my 5 (six in five days) year old just taught me a life lesson this morning.  Something I probably should have learned years ago, but yet he so simply taught me it, without even knowing it.

Our beloved friend Junior has passed away (I think). He lived a wonderful life in a beautiful hamster home (the most beautiful hamster home I have ever seen).  He got to play in cars and explore Little People play sets.  He got to be held and cuddled and loved more than any hamster ever could.  He was a best friend to a kid who had never had a best friend before (other than his mom, but that doesn't count).

I never realized that hamsters have a pretty short lifespan, with the average being just 3 years.  Junior is (maybe was) three years old.  Which is sad because we've only known him for a year.

But it was a great year!  Junior learned how to play the piano and he got his very own beetle.  He was  (maybe still is) living the hamster life of luxury!

Over time, I noticed that Junior did start to slow down a bit.  He hasn't been as active and mostly just wanted to hang out in his awesome castle house, not that I blame him, but it was a little worrying, but if you think about it, he's like a little old man in hamster age.  I got a senior citizen hamster in a castle, wearing depends and watching Wheel of Fortune at 7pm and complaining that his TV Guide had the wrong time for Dr. Phil.

So when I found him this morning passed out beside his little hut inside his castle house, I was heartbroken, I figured he had died over night sometime and I broke the news to Mason, who cried and called his grandmother.  While he was on the phone, I got some paper towel and picked Junior up out of his cage, and to my surprise he was limp but he started moving around in my hand a bit.  So I got a fluffy towel and wrapped him in it and held his cold little body for a while. When I couldn't take the cold feeling in my hand anymore I put him down in a shoe box, still wrapped in the towel and I saw his arm twitch when I put him down and then it happened again.

I then did what anyone else does when there is a crisis situation on a Sunday morning, I turned to "Dr. Google".  Upon investigation, I was told that a) he was hibernating b) he was dying and that the hard part was figuring out if it was in fact a or b, but to make sure that it was b before burying him.

I kept checking on him and there was no change in his situation.  Finally at one point I declared he had died because he was cold and now completely unresponsive.

and I was sad.  Really sad.  About a hamster.  Which is okay because it was the saddest thing to happen to us so far in 2010.  Ten days into it.  We're on a roll for having a crappy year I guess.

I couldn't bring myself to do anything with the body just yet, first of all the ground is frozen solid and covered by tons of snow, but also because I was still convinced he would pop back up at any minute and escape from the shoe box and hide under a dresser somewhere laughing his squeaky hamster laugh while we looked at him.

The problem with waiting and grieving (yes I know it was just a hamster, I am an emotional person) is that young people don't appreciate the waiting part...or the grieving part.  In fact Mason was pretty upset that I had cancelled our plans to go tobogganing, I think even more so than the fact that his hamster had just died, but you know how kids are, selfish!

When he asked me for the billionth time if we could still go tobogganing, I explained to him that I was too sad to go outside to toboggan today and that he should be too because his hamster just died.

The kid looked me straight in the face and told me we have to go out and have fun and be happy.

My god he was right.

Why couldn't he tell me that when he was 15 months old and I stayed in my bed all day crying like a lunatic, never getting dressed or showered, only leaving the house to get necessities and wishing I was dead.

I'm sure people told me that when I was grieving, but I just never listened.  It took a 5 year old (who will be six in five days) to make me understand that the world shouldn't just stop when someone dies.

So we went.

and at first I was guilty about it.  I thought about Junior at home in that little shoe box all by himself, but at the same time I enjoyed watching the joy on this kid's face as he went down the monster hill (that was conveniently behind the hospital's emergency room).

It took me a really long time to actually let him go down the hill.  I looked around and saw kids plowing through other kids on the hill, kids with bloody lips, kids with lips that had previously been bloody but had healed (who had most likely gone down this monster hill before).  It was just chaos.

For some reason I pictured this hill, first of all, a lot smaller and secondly to have only our sled going down it.  Was I ever wrong.  I'm pretty sure every little ER candidate from Mason's school and then some were going down this ginormous hill.

I called my friend to make sure she thought he would be okay and after much convincing, I let go of the sled.

and he was fine.

Getting back up the hill was another story and it took him about 20 minutes to get back up each time.

My mind was clear, only focused on keeping my child out of the ER and my frozen toes.

When we got back home, and had some hot chocolate, I walked by that little shoe box to find that Junior had moved from the position I left him in.  I was so sure he had passed on, but now he was flipped over the other way.  I was certain of it.

Which reminded me of the time my dog Phoebe caught a mole.  Have you ever seen a mole before? They kind of remind me of a Pokemon for some reason. They are adorable, and I've never had one as a pet so when Phoebe brought me a mole one day, I was overjoyed!

Only the mole was injured and my mom was convinced he was dead.  I held the little mole in paper towel (geez what is it with me and dying animals and paper towel?) until my mom got mad and told me to put it down in the garden and leave it be.  So I did, but of course I checked on it every few minutes.  Each time I looked at it, the mole had changed positions.  One time its mouth was open, one time it was closed, another time I swear I saw it breathing.  Eventually my mom grew so tired of me checking on this mole that she took my water baloon flinger thingy (that looked like a lacrosse stick) and flung the mole out into the forest.

So the mole problem was solved.  No more guessing if it was dead or alive because that mole flew pretty far, and even though it was quite mean and rather unnecessary, I kind of wish that my mom was here to give me some answers with this hamster because on one hand I'm a little grossed out if he is in fact dead and I have been watching a little dead carcass rot and on the other hand I don't want him to be gone but then if I had another hand I would say I don't want him to suffer if he is really sick.

I will keep you guys updated on the situation, I am treating as if it is hibernation but at this point I am fairly certain we will be saying goodbye to our little friend tonight.

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