Being the mother of two animal lovin’ girls, I face the challenge of loss much more often than I’d like to think is normal.
My daughters (10 year old twins) have grown up through the years investigating and loving everything that has a heartbeat– and I mean everything.
Oh, the treasures they have brought me throughout the years! They have adopted and cared for lizards, beetles, wooly bears, birds, worms, lightning bugs, lady bugs, a praying mantis, Freddie the Rat, frogs, snakes, squirrels, hermit crabs, dogs, cats, mice, guinea pigs, and chickens (the list could go on forever).
They have bandaged, wrapped, and nursed to health (most of the time successfully) birds that couldn’t fly, kittens that were almost road kill, and snakes that, well…were.
I have spent more than I’d like to admit on various types of cages, hay, toys, chews, treats, food, bowls, litter, pet beds, and replacement animals.
They even proclaimed their future careers at the ripe ol’ age of three to be veterinarians. (But, of course!)
Well, with that plethora of small animals has come many the memorial service followed by a ritualistic burial complete with a resting place, headstone, and a prayer (we must all be present for).
These moments aren’t easy. They come with sadness, a few giggles (stifled), and the feelings of great loss–really. It’s heartbreaking to watch your child mourn the death of something they have loved, played with, cared for, and of course named.
In fact, I cannot count the times I myself have shed tears over the furry little bodies we’ve buried and the eulogies we’ve delivered.
But, truly, what do we have to gain if we never jump off that cliff–never love even though it ultimately may bring pain?
I do believe that Alfred Lord Tennyson said it best, though, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost/ Than to never have loved at all.” (“In Memoriam” line 15).
I have enjoyed these experiences and have been able to let the “true” animal lover in me come out as a result. I’ve been able to let go of my inner OCD issues (sort of) and embrace all things living.
My girls love hard, care brilliantly, and respect living creatures in a way that still amazes me, and I will forever be grateful to them for bringing their animal love and all of the madness that comes with it to my world.