In an earlier post, I talked about how we’d purchased crabs for the boys (We’ve Got Crabs…But It’s Not What You Think.) Right after that post, Batman seemed a little sluggish. We woke a few days later to find that he’d abandoned his shell and had passed on to the other side.
We decided to bury his shriveled, little body in the backyard and have a service. Miguel dug a small hole with his hands, and we all sat around the grave. I asked Joaquín what he’d like to say about his crab.
He said, “Batman was really good crab. He like climb ups sticks” (he motioned with his fingers the imaginary legs of Batman scaling a stick). “He go under sand and snuggle with his brother, Superman.”
I asked if he knew what it meant that Batman died.
He hung his head and said, “I’m never gonna see him again.”
We covered Batman with dirt and placed a rock, decorated with sidewalk chalk, to mark his grave. A few times throughout that first day, Joaquín would go back to the rock and dig up Batman. We told him he had to leave Batman alone; he had to let him rest in peace.
I can’t remember when I first learned this lesson of death with an animal. On the farm, there must have been a dozen barnyard cats run over by cars, stillborn calves, and roadkill deer. I learned not to get too emotional and eventually saw these instances as a natural cycle of life. Even though we’d only had Batman a short while, I saw how attached Joaquín had become, how excited he was to see him crawl around everyday.
Knowing how much I knew he’d miss Batman, I couldn’t help welling up when Joaquín said so simply, “I’m never gonna see him again.” Isn’t that the most difficult part of death?
What childhood pet do you still miss?