Yesterday we buried Frederick, the Senegal chameleon I wrote about in this blog. We did everything we could. On his last day I found myself using the blunt end of a chopstick to make a mash of live waxworms, water, liquid calcium and vitamins. Under the advisement of a professional chameleon breeder, I held his bony body in my warm hands and used my thumb to pry open his mouth, and force fed him drops of this mixture in a last ditch effort to save him. She warned me--this would either be the beginning of the beginning, or the stress of this procedure would facilitate the end.
It's heartbreaking for a nurturer when what is necessary doesn't look anything like my idea of love.
Frederick perked up for a few minutes afterwards, and then curled up under the light on top of the plant. I watched his toothpick splinters of a ribcage expand dramatically, and then with a sigh, it was over.
We buried him in the memorial garden for J's mother, underneath the big cherry tree.
Hayden sobbed, "You were right, you were right." Because we had told him not to buy a chameleon, that they were too challenging for novice reptile keepers. And I hugged him and said I had never wanted to be right, that this was the moment I hadn't wanted to come for either of them. Inside, we turned off the lights in his tank. Hayden took down the chart of the fridge that represented the 42 jobs he had to do for us to earn all the extra things we bought for Frederick, the bargain reptile show chameleon--he had just completed it the day before Frederick took a turn for the worse.
But though I was sad for them both and disappointed I hadn't been able to pull him through, inside, a part of me was glad Haybes was grieving. When Frederick first came to live with us, one of the things I said to J was, What if he dies and Hayden is devastated? followed just as quickly by, What if he dies and Hayden doesn't really care?
Life goes on here at the Hoffstead. I was woken up this morning by an American toad the size of a small hamburger bun being thrust in my face as he peed on my pillow--LOOK WHAT WE FOUND ON THE PATIO MOM! I was dragged out of the shower to come see a huge snapping turtle who made her way onto our lawn in the midst of last night's rainstorm. As we walked her to the stream with a net, Hayden chattered about the tadpoles in our pond. And while the boys and I released the snapping turtle and the toad and walked the dog, J got the phone call that his Papa Joe will come home from the hospital... with hospice care. I feel so grateful that they all had such a great weekend together over Memorial Day.
Round and round it goes.