Our 13-year-old daughter discovered this evening that her pet hamster Nibbles had done what all hamsters tend to do after 2-3 years. Tomorrow afternoon after we get home from church, we will have a short service and Nibbles will join Wilson in the quiet corner of our backyard that has been designated the final resting place for our family pets.
I realized, as she was sobbing on my shoulder after making the discovery, that there was nothing that I could do to help the situation other than say “I’m sorry.” She didn’t need me to remind her that she had known that Nibbles had been getting toward the end of his life expectancy. It wouldn’t help to note that Nibbles was, after all, “just” a hamster, a not-too-distant cousin of the mice that occasionally meet their end in the traps that we (I, anyway) set in the laundry room. And, it certainly wouldn’t have helped to observe that she had never really gotten 100% comfortable with handling him. At that moment, none of that mattered. Nibbles had been alive, Nibbles had been hers, and now Nibbles was gone.
Kids (and all of us) need moments like these in order to grow and develop. But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.