Kids and Death

Friday, I walked passed the ferret cage and noticed that something didn’t seem quite right about how our female ferret, Ophelia, was sleeping. I called her name and she popped up, so I assumed it wasn’t a big deal. That night, Sean called up from the basement.

“Dear, I think Ophelia is dead.”

I asked him to try to wake her. Told him that she had seemed “off” earlier, but woke up and seemed fine. He told me she wasn’t waking up–told me to get him a bag to put her in. I couldn’t stand the thought of a plastic bag. I found a shoe box and took it to him, asking him to please be sure–feel for a heartbeat, watch for breathing. He took her out. He was sure. She was gone.

That night, I dreamed that I was going to burn in hell for not realizing that she was dying (totally not making that up).

Our kids really don’t interact with the ferrets–they aren’t exactly kid-friendly pets–but the cage is somewhere that the kids can see them. Saturday morning, we told the two older ones that Ophelia had died. W~ took it pretty much in stride. N~ said “I need to go say a prayer for her,” then ran off to his room to do just that. I sometimes forget what a sweet and sensitive boy he really is.

Later on that afternoon, Sean took the kids down into our woods and had a little ferret funeral. N~ has mentioned several times since then how sad it is that Ophelia died.

Yesterday, the boys and I went to the Children’s museum (I figure we’d better do it now, since I’m probably not going to be brave enough to try for awhile after the baby is born), then met Sean for lunch. As we were eating, Sean told me that his old assistant’s father had recently died. N~ was instantly interested. He asked how the man died. Sean explained that he was very old, had lived a good life, and hadn’t been sick before he died–just like Ophelia, he had died unexpectedly.

N’s response?

“Daddy, will we have to dig a big hole in the woods to put him into, too?”

I think I’ll wait until he’s older to tell him about the tombstone that used to be in our back yard.

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