Just over a couple of months ago, our boys were given a tiny painted turtle (at the time, they thought it was a mud turtle, so the boys named it Muddy) by a friend of ours. We had no intention of keeping it, really. We don't have room for a pet. But we quickly grew attached to it and Muddy became a fixture around our apartment.
This morning, I discovered Muddy wasn't moving in the water (don't worry, I didn't even attempt mouth-to-mouth). He had been a bit lethargic lately, so we wondered if he was getting something. We had just discussed releasing him into the lake at the nature center so he could have the freedom he needs (but we weren't entirely ready to see him go). So it was a sad day. Anders cried off and on through most of the morning.
We had a burial after lunch. I've never cried so much for a turtle--though it wasn't so much for the turtle as it was for my son. It was hard to see death through his eyes. There were some points of remembering my grandfather's and my father-in-law's funerals. So we talked a bit here and there about life & death and being sad and missing people.
And so we laid Muddy to rest. I dug a hole in the grass behind the apartment building. Anders picked a stick to mark the grave. The boys said goodbye to Muddy (like they're going to see him again tomorrow--I don't think they grasp the finality of death--or maybe they just know there's more life to come). We said a prayer (Anders prayed that Muddy would get better). Then I covered up the hole, and we said good-bye one last time. Anders cried for a while more, but seems to have moved on--just as life goes on.