Our dogs barked and ran in the basement while our cats hissed frantically. I went downstairs, but it took me minutes because I’m still unsteady on stairs. And when I rounded the corner, I screamed. Indy’s kitten pawed at a beautiful...red squirrel!
I’m still not sure why I screamed. But after I did, my 11-year-old, Indy, stood by me, mouth ajar, and then she screamed too—in perfect harmony. I always knew that kid could sing.
My son, Trey the Warrior, came down after that, his eyes bouncing from our vibrating vocal cords to the dead squirrel.
“So, it’s...a...squirrel,” he said like a young Christopher Walken. “So...what?”
“A DEAD squirrel,” I responded. Plus, the thing was actually almost as big as Indy’s kitten! From its tail to its head, it stretched at least a foot and a half. “I’ve seen dead mice, and I can handle those...now. But this is huge!”
“Dude, look at its razor-sharp teeth, too!” Trey said.
I rolled my eyes. Had he just called me “dude”? So there are worse things than finding a half-squirrel/half-bear in the basement.
“That’s so cool,” Trey poked it with a decorative flower stem.
“Hey, now! Gross! Leave the decorations out of this!”
Indy didn’t seem quite as excited as her brother, and we were all a bit relieved when Mike joined the “celebration of life.”
“Oh my gosh.” Then the man actually picked the behemoth up by its tail before lowering it into a bag.
“Don’t touch it with your bare hands!” I screamed again—because—germs. Plus, I knew I’d be holding those hands later. *wink*
Ruby heard about the squirrel, too, and that evening all three of the kids wanted to talk about it.
“Well, death sucks,” Indy said. “I’ve learned that from the school counselor. Plus, I think that was the cool squirrel we’d always see jumping from tree to tree in our backyard. Won’t see that again now will we? The counselor is gonna hear about THIS tomorrow!”
We’ve had to talk about death a lot lately because of the cancer. It’s nice that the schools are trying to help the kids, but they come home with a lot of questions I don’t know how to answer: “Why are you sick?” “How long will you live?” “Why would God let to us happen to you—to us?”
I looked into Indy’s somber face and knew I had to think quick.
“Squirrel death!” I suddenly announced. “We each need to come up with a story of how it died.”
Trey and Indy seemed immediately stoked about the idea and Ruby and Mike joined in, knowing exactly what I was doing.
So we went around, and suddenly instead of it being this terrible thing, we were laughing so hard I could hardly breathe.
“It was a tragic romance. That squirrel died for love!”
“Well, I think it was a spy!”
“I KNOW it’s been living in our house for weeks.”
And the stories went on and on. Living in Idaho isn’t for the faint of heart. Now we’ve had mice, a raccoon, and a squirrel in our house.
Despite the squirrel death, cancer, and all, I’m still glad to be making memories with my children. Hopefully they’ll never forget the day we tried figuring out just exactly how Bucky the Squirrel died. Personally I think it was a “hit job” by the mob; you should’ve seen that face—he looked like he’d been up to no good!