Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Funeral for a Toad

Today, one of my Fire Bellied Toads died. At first, I did not feel very bad, it is only a toad and I did not have them for very long, but as I thought about it, I began to feel somewhat melancholy. I was surprised to find out how important they had become to me, and I was not sure how I would break the news to my kids who actually liked them.
I decided I would just do it and get it over with, because sooner or later they would notice that one of the toads was missing and start asking questions. I sat down on the couch, turned off the television, and asked them both to come and sit with me, I had some bad news I wanted to share with them. I could hardly bear to look at their innocent little faces as they prepared themselves for the big blow. I had rehearsed the speech over and over in my mind and felt confident that I knew exactly what to say. However, as I started to explain, I found myself struggling to master my own emotions and my throat became so thick that I had difficulty getting the words to come out. They both looked at me, waiting ever so patiently and I finally blurted out , " Tom died!" The silence that followed was deafening, and so profound that I thought for a brief moment they had not heard what I said because my living room had suddenly become some kind of vortex, sucking out every sound except for the beating of my own heart against my ribcage.
Finally, my daughter spoke and she asked, " Who is Tom?" Are you kidding me?! After everything I had gone through trying to build up the courage to explain this sudden and unexplainable death of a TOAD to them, she does not even know who I am talking about. I had this whole speech prepared about the cycle of life and was ready for any question regarding the mortality of amphibians, and our own as human beings. She asks me who he is, and my son stares at me like a third eye had just grown in the middle of my forehead and started winking at him. I was baffled, dumbfounded, and speechless. I could not even find the words to tell her that Tom was one of our two pet toads and is survived by Jerry, his faithful tank companion. I just sat there, stared at them both for what seemed like an eternity, and waited until I could no longer handle the suspense. I got up, turned the television back on, and went into the kitchen where I could sit quietly and collect my thoughts.
After a little while my daughter came in, "Was he one of the toads?" I looked at her and said "Yes sweetie, he was." She looked very thoughtful for a moment and then asked, " Can I see the body?" I almost lost it.
I eventually let her see it, and she asked me if she could keep it in her room, my son wanted to eat it. We finally agreed to hold a small service in the backyard with Jerry, and our cat Chloe. We paid our respects and buried him in the garden. Apparently, he will not be greatly missed by either of my kids because they did not seem to have as much trouble with the whole ordeal as I had, but I believe Jerry will miss him, and I know I will. Chloe is pretty much indifferent.


  1. This is a great post.
    Kids are so resilient in so many ways ... I remember the first "your pet so and so has passed away" conversation I had with my oldest daughter. I thought I would die from the telling.

    She took it in stride. Go figure.

  2. I am constantly amazed by the honesty and tenacity of children. When I had to tell Cub that our dog had 'died' (more like a one way trip to the vet) I was bawling and he was all "oh. I'll miss him- can I have some icecream".