Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘pet

Last night we faced the first pet death in a long time, at least one that the family as a whole was invested in and attached to. (Not that I don’t like all animals, but when my son’s bearded dragon eats a chinese water dragon, my heart doesn’t break.) It was that of our beloved 3.5 year old guinea pig, Mocha. Just seeing that in print hurts. I am a wimp, I know it’s ‘only’ a guinea pig but she was a pampered piggy, a member of our family for over three years now, and a well-loved addition to our home. She will be very missed, and I wonder how long it will take for us to walk by where her cage was without forgetting that we don’t have to lean down to say hi to her.

 It happened late last night, and ds was asleep, so he woke up this morning, excited to go play at a friend’s home (yay!) and didn’t notice her missing cage. It wasn’t until we were walking through the garage that he noticed her cage, only half hidden. “Mom! Mom! Why is Mocha’s cage out here? WHERE IS MOCHA?”

I leaned down and gently told him Mocha had died last night, then I watched his face closely to see what direction this was going to take. It could either be “Oh” or “OHhhhhh NOoooo.” It was the latter. It took about 30 seconds, after he said “But xxx <xxx being my younger dd> will be so sad when she comes home!” before he started to cry. To sob. To wail. We talked about how Mocha was in Heaven, and ds said he wanted just one more year with her. I explained that Mocha had been a pampered piggy, she was always happy and we’d given her a good home. He agreed, then tried to stop crying. “Okay, I’m a big boy, I will stop now,” even though I knew he wasn’t over it. More wails, then another attempt to stop. Third time’s a charm. We quietly walked to the truck, with him a little more slumped over than usual but no longer crying. On the way to the friend’s house, he again talked about dd’s reaction when she returns from her mission trip on Thursday. (Can I just say now that I dread that discussion? She will be a mess, and who can blame her? She leaves, her pet’s fine, she returns, it’s gone.)

While it’s a very sad topic overall, I’m impressed with ds’s handling of it. He showed really good empathy, and he seemed to understand that death is permanent. It’s a lot different from when my dad passed 2.5 years ago, and he wanted to play Gameboy during the funeral, and later would blurt out, completely randomly “I’m sorry your Daddy died, Mama.” But I have to look at the bright side that as much as you can learn from a situation like this, ds did.

We do have one other guinea pig still, Chai. You can bet she’s going to be a lot more spoiled now than she was before, and that’s always been a lot. Hug your pets, their lives pass too quickly.

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