The only pets that fit into my husband’s and my life right now are sugar gliders. Yes, you probably don’t know what they are. Here’s a photo:
Think a gray-scale chipmunk with a long tail and the ability to glide on flaps of furry skin like a flying squirrel.
We got a pair back in February, almost a year ago. While away for winter vacation, the girl of the girl/boy pair passed away. It is a risk with these animals. They are so small that there are a number of dangers and toxins that could have been momentarily sniffed or licked, or a bladder infection that wasn’t noticed, or a number of other things. Yet she died, and my husband and I were crushed.
They were originally supposed to only be my pets. I remember that specifically: my husband sighed as he finally approved them as a potential pet, but said they were hideous and “they will be your pets, not our pets”. Which of course guaranteed that he would fall head over heels over them. I have rarely seen him cry. The only time in the last year was when his grandparents died. He cried a few times over lovely little Lulu.
A picture seems appropriate here. Here is one shortly after we got her, a 2-month-old baby who had trouble balancing easily on the edge of her food dish so she just laid down in it instead.
We buried her with a felt nesting cloth and leaves, because she was a nester. We would periodically stick in a silk leaf or piece of felt cloth in the bars just above her sleeping pouch, and she would quickly pull it in and spend a half an hour arranging it just right.
I honored Lulu with a good burial, thinking of pagan burials of old with artifacts to follow them into the next life, and hope her spirit is comforted and delighted with the sea of leaves and scraps of felt we buried her with, along with her favorite kinds of treats.
I gave an apple as an offering to Manannan Mac Lyr, and sent Lulu our love and hopes for a peaceful journey into whatever lay beyond this life for her sweet little spirit.
I mourn her passing. Yet I find this is the easiest passing of a family pet who has died. When I was little, people told me that animals could not go to heaven, and in my teenage years, when I stopped believing in heaven and hell, I was frightened by death. The rituals and beliefs of my childhood were abandoned, but nothing had settled in its place.
I do not claim to “know” what happens to our souls or spirits or what-have-you, but I believe that the energy does not — cannot — simply disappear. I know that my ancestors are remembered and honored, and I believe they are at peace. I honored them by name and prayer each last Samhain. I will honor Lulu at the next, and the next, and the next after that. The continuity of ritual is a profound comfort.