You may remember Fluffy, our hamster. Here's a good picture of him. (Click here.) I was just thinking last week how good and uneventful he had been lately. Never a good thought.... It all began Saturday morning when I decided I would help teach my children some responsibility. Dad was getting some much needed sleep, the kids had chores to do and I had an urgent need to go to the grocery (no bread, no milk, no eggs--yep, it was pretty much Old Mother Hubbard). As I was preparing to go Ashley was cleaning out Fluffy's cage and he was happily running around the house in his ball. She clearly understood that she needed to wait and put him back in his cage until I returned. So I left a list of additional chores for each of the girls, left them phone instructions if they had questions, grabbed the most mischievous son to go with me, and headed off to the grocery store. The phone rang a couple of times with minor questions. My girls don't get to use the phone much so I think it was more out of excitement to use the phone then an actual question--that is until the final phone call I received that went something like this:
Sara: "Um, mom, I think Fluffy is loose."
Mom: "Yeah, he is running around in his ball."
Sara: "No, mom, he's loose"
Mom: "What do you mean?" (I was kind of distracted by the deli section.)
Sara: "I mean his ball is split open and he is gone."
Mom: "You're kidding...."
Evidently I forgot to tell them to shut the stair door. Fluffy took a massive roller coaster ride down the stairs and ended the ride with freedom. Needless to say we did not find Fluffy on Saturday. By lunch on Sunday it had been over 24 hours since we had had a Fluffy sighting. Joe and I were in discussions on how we were going to break the news to the kids that Fluffy was probably gone forever. That evening around 6pm there was pandamonium as Sara ran up the stairs announcing that Fluffy was in her room. Joe, of course, was not home and I am not good at catching Fluffy. So for about 5 minutes I provided the entertainment downstairs for the kids while I ran around our playroom looking for the "rat in the box" as Joe affectionately calls him. We made the full circle of the basement at least twice and then he ran back into Sara's room. The chase came to a very abrupt end when I stepped on Fluffy. Yes, I stepped on the treasured family pet and he was partially flat on the floor, eyes closed, not moving---dead. There was a silence that fell heavily in the air and then the weeping and wailing started. My children's mourning ritual could easily rival any of the middle eastern country's traditions. I, obviously, felt like the world's worst mom and started the hugs and apologies. My forgiving children murmured their forgiveness in the midst of their tears. Then I realized that I must "take care" of the dead pet. I ran upstairs, grabbed some paper towel because I refuse to touch a dead hamster--even if it is our beloved Fluffy--headed back downstairs to begin the burial process. When I arrived back in Sara's room, the mourning was continuing and I looked over at Fluffy. I thought I saw his eyes open. No, I thought, he's dead. About that time he stood up and took off. He was gone. Elation filled the room with shouts of "it's a miracle!!!!" and I couldn't help but hear my husband's voice in my head saying "Now why didn't you pick him up right after you stepped on him??" I was exhausted from chase and the emotional roller coaster of a possible death so I decided that he would enjoy his freedom until Dad could catch him which he did one day later. And now you know one reason why we don't have a dog...can you imagine me with a dog?? This is also why we will never clean out Fluffy's cage again while Joe is away...I can't be trusted.