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The Death of Cookie

This sort of looks like Cookie, but, sadly, we never thought to memorialize her in photographic form!

I guess the title is just a tad misleading, so let me clarify… Cookie is (was) our pet hamster, and she lived with us for the past year and a half, until she peacefully passed away yesterday.  Rest in peace, Cookie.

There are a couple of reasons why I am including her passing as part of my blog.  First, Cookie has been indelibly intertwined with my recovery, because she was purchased by my husband about a week prior to the start of my recovery.  Why the last-minute purchase of a rodent that neither he nor I had any interest in, particularly during that stressful time in our family’s lives?  Yes, the kids had been pestering us for one, but they pester us for stuff all the time.  It was, more or less, an impulse purchase by my husband, and this is a man who rarely does anything by impulse.  So my guess is that a distraction was what he was looking for, but that is purely speculative, and probably irrelevant.

It may sound unfeeling and harsh, but when I think of Cookie in terms of her starting point, well, let’s just say that I am not sad to see her go.  It’s one less tie to a past I am working, day by day, from which to distance myself.

The next reason I am including this event is how to deal with the loss of a pet.  This, it should be said right up front, is with regard to the children.  Cookie’s purchase date notwithstanding, I had a thousand other reasons I did not want a pet hamster.  If there are hamster lovers reading this post, then my humblest apologies, but there is not one fun thing about having a pet hamster.  They do not interact, they sleep during the day, they run all night on a really loud wheel, and they scatter food within a 10-foot perimeter of their cage.  So, from my perspective, there was little emotional entanglement between Cookie and me.

But the children!  First, my daughter was the one to discover this tragedy.  She came to my husband and me, in distress, and said, “I think Cookie is dead!”  As it is 7 am, we attempt to assure her that Cookie is sleeping, like she typically does after a night of frantic wheel-racing.  My daughter says, “But she laying on her back with her feet up in the air!”  So we hurry over to the cage to verify, and, yep, that’s one dead hamster.  So the goal now is to calm my inconsolable daughter before she heads off to school.  Not an easy task, but we do the best we can, and she has at least stopped crying before she leaves for the day.  I do my best to process her feelings on the subject after school, and her biggest regret is not spending enough time taking care of Cookie, so we talked about the ways we did care for Cookie, and the good times Cookie had in our home (try doing all this with an appropriate expression on your face, I dare you!)

Onto my son… we call him down that morning to explain the situation.  His reaction, unsurprisingly, is a 180 from my daughter.  He had an instant morbid fascination with checking out the dead body.  Once we establish the crime scene and banish him from it, he was perfectly fine, it was as if Cookie never existed.  It should be noted that my son was the one on the “We Need A Hamster” campaign for months before my husband broke down and bought one, and now it’s as if he hadn’t a care in the world.  That is, until after school, when I indicated that I had taken care of Cookie’s “burial” on my own while he was in school.  Now he is the one in tears, asking me to go dig him up so we can have a proper funeral.  This provided me with the opportunity to discuss what is important about funerals, and how we can still hold a ceremony without the actual body.  Luckily, his distracted 10-year old personality worked to my favor this time, and the crisis was averted.   I suppose Karmic justice will eventually have me presiding over a memorial service soon, but if he doesn’t bring it up, I’m not bringing it up!

Today’s Miracle:

On a completely unrelated note, today’s miracle is that I have prepared, from scratch, a beautiful Boston creme pie for my Mother-in-law’s birthday tonight.  I will have to let you know if it tastes as good as it looks…

The Ticks and the Fleas

A speaker at an AA meeting I recently attended used this expression:  “it’s not the bears and the lions that will get you, it’s the ticks and the fleas.”  I had never heard it before, and it really resonated with me.

At almost any point in time, if you ask me how I am doing, I will answer that I am doing fine, and I will mean it.  Because I know that, on every level, my life is truly blessed, and unbelievably wonderful, by virtually anyone’s standards.  And so, when I come across any of life’s trials and tribulations, I tend to think that I should be able to handle things on my own.  In other words, what do I have to complain about?

I have come to learn that, in recovery, this mindset is the complete opposite of success.  Because the pathway to relapse is paved with stuffed feelings and unspoken resentments, and it is vital to learn how to speak about what is on your mind.  The consequences of failing to open up can be life or death.  At the very least, the serenity and peace so often heard about in the rooms of AA will be elusive.

For me, articulating what is on my mind is not the problem, it is believing that what is on my mind is worthwhile.  In other words, I need to overcome the feeling that I am wasting people’s time with my silly nonsense.  Since I have joined the fellowship of AA, I now know I need to fight my instincts, and open up more about what is renting space in my head, so I can repel the ticks and the fleas.

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