Monday, January 2, 2012

Life Lessons from a Hamster

Tragedy struck the Kelly household last week when Emma's hamster got out in the night and fell. We took Jacques to the small animal vet who told us the hamster had broken two legs. He gave us two options: Treatment/repair for $200-$300 or euthanize for $12.

I looked at Emma and said, "Do you understand what our choices are?" She shook her head. I could tell I was going to have to pull out the big guns.

"Hamsters life expectancies are only a few years, and I don't think we can spend this much money on making him better right now. But the vet can give him a special medicine that will put him to sleep so he won't be in anymore pain. Would that be okay with you?"

She paused for a few moments while the concept sunk in. And then the flood gates opened. For both of us. She cried because she was so attached to her pet. I cried not because I loved a $15 rodent deeply, but because the Mama Bear in me was so distraught at her reaction. And up until this point in her tiny 9-year old life span, Mom and Dad have been able to help her find solutions to all of her problems. But not this time...

She bowed her head and sobbed. I said, "Honey, do you want to hold him one last time and mommy can take a picture of you with Jacques?" (Above is the pathetic picture I took as she struggled to regain composure in the vet's examination room.)

And this is what we learned that night...

Lesson #1: Emma internalized this parenting principle-- Mommy cares about things that are important to me.

"Emma, who created Jacques?" I asked gently on the car ride home.
"Jesus," she responded between sobbing breaths.
"The scriptures tell us that we return to that same God who gave us life. And all living things with spirits will be resurrected. So guess what? You will see Jacques again someday, and he will have four perfect legs."
Lesson #2: Emma learns more deeply about the Plan of Salvation, from a pet-lovers perspective (you know, the Cliffs Notes version).

Lesson #3: Emma will see that she can do hard things. The Holy Ghost strengthens and comforts us. And we keep on moving. It never gets easy saying goodbye to a pet. And maybe that's a good thing.

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