Friday, May 18, 2007

Requiescat In Pacem, Rufus

Saturday night Barnacle Boy appeared in the kitchen distressed, "I think Rufus is dead, Mom." Rufus is his hamster. "What makes you think that?" "He didn't eat dinner and he's not breathing." Rufus is downright ancient for a hamster, and doesn't always wake up for dinner, so this would not in general worry me. The not breathing, however, is a tip-off. The Boy is right, Rufus has indeed gone on to the next life where he'll always have dried papaya and a wheel that doesn't squeak. We take the cage out to the garage and I promise to help him take care of Rufus in the morning (we're having a thunderstorm!).

The next morning, we consign Rufus to the earth. Last summer my director (a Jesuit priest) had told me about the 6-yr-old son of friends, who'd called him to try to convince him to come help him bury his fish. Four phone calls later, he'd promised to construct a service and phone in to preside. He took the canticle of the three men in the furnance from Daniel and converted it to a litany (All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord). We did the same. There were tears, but litany as a form seems to weave something healing around you, and it seemed to have channelled the grace in this case, too.