Yes, Avan and Jensen's turtle has passed away. We noticed he was sick on Thursday with slimy eyes and shell, and by Friday there were little, white worms in his aquarium. How do I know what to do for a sick turtle?! On Saturday morning I thought I'd make sure he was eating; so I picked him up to bring him to his food, and knew immediately he was dead. I think I might be a bad Mom: my first thought was, "Gross, I've handled a dead turtle!" It was only after that that I realized Jensen would be crushed.
She was. I tried to break it to her gently, without making a big deal out of it. At first she seemed only somewhat disappointed, I think because her mind was on something else. But later, when we decided to bury him in a small box, she lost it. She cried and cried and bawled and bawled. She asked for some alone time with him by his grave to say good-bye, and we could hear her from yards away trying to hold back her sobs. For twenty minutes or so she grieved over how much she loved him and would miss him, saying things like, "I've never been this sad," and "This is the saddest day of my life." I could barely handle it.
We buried Vincent, and Daddy said a few words and a prayer. Jensen made a red X on paper and cut it out to mark the grave. She continued to sob uncontrollably, and seemed ashamed of it. I told her that it was absolutely OK to feel this way, and that she wouldn't feel this sad forever. I think that made her feel like it was OK to cry, because then she didn't even try to hold back, and she let it all go. Thankfully, Cooper was oblivious. I couldn't have taken two grieving children.
Fortunately, Tom had planned a nature walk with the kids. Right after the funeral he took them to Firestone Park here in Akron and they walked the trails and marveled at nature. They made a little fire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and had a great time. Jensen was feeling MUCH better by the time she got home, saying that it was "one of the best days ever, EVER!" I was so relieved.
Nature Walk, October 1, 2005
The next day we were telling Avan about our weekend, and Jensen told her that she thought Vincent had died because Jensen took him on a field trip to school for Green day. Of course that broke all of our hearts, and thankfully we were able to convince her that wasn't the reason. Later she told us that she still missed him, but she wasn't as sad as she had been the day before. A lesson in grief.
I just hope PETA doesn't catch wind of this.