Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. fuck, fuck.
This is going to suck.
Canada Day. Everybody is happy. Breakfast with the kids. Cereal, toast with peanut butter and jam, coffee (lots). We are packed up and ready to go see Grandma and Grandpa. A great long weekend planned months ago. Miss M and Little Man make faces at each other then burst out laughing. I hear Lady K step out of the shower and start to get dressed. Her steps move to Miss M’s room, undoubtedly checking to see if Cuddles The Puddles was fed.
Nope. That’s not good. I calmly bolt up the stairs as milk pours out of Little Man’s nose. Lady K is rigid in front of the tank. I look down. Cuddles is rigid inside the tank. What the fuck! Am I really seeing this? I bend down to take a closer look. He’s belly up, his stiff frame bobbing up and down below the surface by the filter. And he’s staring at me.
“He’s not sleeping.”
“No,” I agreed. “No, he’s not.”
Miss M worked hard for this turtle. For three months she had to prove to us that she was responsible enough to take care of a turtle. She would take care of her brother while we were working (from home), cooking and cleaning.
She would take extra care to be aware of other people’s feelings and would make little sacrifices to make them happy. We were really impressed. It was amazing to watch.
The day we went to buy Cuddles was perfect. Miss M and I drove out through the sunshine to an enormous pet shop I found online. They were the best and they had loads of pets of every kind. Birds, lizards, snakes, fish, giant bugs, sharks (fuck yeah!) and, of course, turtles. The place was writhing as we bounced our way through.
Really. The $200 one.
“That one! He’s perfect!”
Can’t argue with that. I would have at one time, but I have learned a thing or two from very recent history.
And then it was done. A perfect day. Recorded on Facebook just to legitimize the whole thing. Piled with likes and hearts and happy faces. The comments section overflowing with “Awwwwws.” June 4th.
The fucking thing didn’t last a month.
“This is gonna suck.”
“You got to tell her.”
And so I walked the dead man’s walk. Little Man was shaking his butt and Miss M was laughing so hard she couldn’t speak.
I sat down on the couch and asked her to sit next to me.
She jumped up and I wrapped my arms around her. Then I told her. She cried so hard. The sadness in those tears felt like the end of the world as we know it (and I felt like shit).
I held her tighter but it wasn’t going to help. I said all that you can say, I kissed her head and wiped away her tears as they were immediately replaced and held her tighter still. And none of it was going to help.
We disposed of the body, cleaned out the tank and took it right out of her room. No sign of Cuddles anywhere. It felt like we were covering up a crime scene.
The weekend was great. Lots of playtime with cousins, being spoiled by grandparents, doing a surprise visit to a friend who owned a little farm. Miss M picked the eggs from the coop that day.Little Man chased after the roosters. Lady K marveled over the landscape and I got bit by every fucking bug on the planet.
Before school begins, Miss M will get a fish. Lots of tiny, pretty fish. If one dies, who gives a fuck, you have twenty-seven more. Yeah, that little fucking turtle needed a huge tank. You take what you’re left with and soldier on.
And three days later Miss M is fine. Completely unfazed. Not a shred of sadness. I, on the other hand, still feel kind of devastated. Our daughter has just experienced death. Again. We lost a kitty a few years back and that was bad enough. This was hers. This was direct. I still can’t believe that the fucking thing died and that my beautiful, sweet daughter had to go through so much pain. But three days later she is fine, while I feel stupid for feeling all this shit.
Such is life. There is death and we deal with it, all in our own way. I’m glad Miss M is able to move on. Months later, she does bring him up. They are happy memories.
Rest in peace, Cuddles The Puddles.
You were here for a good time, not a long time.