Sabbatical Blog

...chronicling some of my projects and learnings during this time apart from parish ministry

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ode to IxChel

Our Green Iguana, named for the Mayan Moon Goddess, beloved member of the family for four years, died today after surgery to remove a nail she ate…probably two years ago during a remodeling project. Why did she eat the nail? Who knows. She never ate anything else she wasn’t supposed to and, indeed, I thought of her as our anorexic iguana because she had eating issues all her life. The only thing she ate with relish was bread, which was bad for her, and monkey chow, which she could only have once a week. It was when she didn’t eat her monkey chow that we knew something was wrong.

The nail came home from surgery with her. If I hadn’t seen the x-ray myself, I would have not believed that such a little animal could even have ingested, much less lived with such an object in her gut. That she lived two years with it…we’re talking a bent, four inch nail, here, and she, although 3 feet long, was only about three inches across…is a miracle. For a day after her surgery, it looked like she might make it, which made her death all the harder.

We brought her home from the vet, even had an impromptu viewing, told all her funny stories…how she used to hide in the top of Kevin’s bunk bed, how she once jumped from the top of a book case, (trying to be a dragon, said Kevin) how she got out a window once, spent the night in a bush, and ran across the street at the speed of light when we shook the bush. We remembered how offended she was at the sight of anything that looked remotely like her, including her reflection in the mirror and some of the many dragons which Kevin has collected and which, it seemed, she took great pleasure in knocking over. When we called her first owner, she reminisced about how IxChel had nearly died from impacted eggs as a youthful iguana. The animal definitely had 9 interesting lives.

IxChel taught our son, allergic to anything with fur, the joys of pet ownership, and even in death is teaching him and us her last lessons about grief. He has loved her and cared for her very responsibly. When I discovered that she might live through Kevin’s college years, (read; that we would probably have to care for her for at least four years after he’d left home) I decided to make friends with her, and I’ve loved her dearly, too. So has William. You wouldn’t think it would be possible to love a critter with a brain the size of a pea and no feelings except anxiety, but you’d be wrong.

We buried her in the back yard with a piece of the monkey chow she was so extraordinarily fond of. William and I both thought of words from our church’s pet blessing service: “We give thanks for our childhood pets, who taught us to love and to cry. We give thanks for our children's pets, who help us to teach them responsibility and relationship, and we give thanks for the pets who brighten our days and comfort our nights.

Thanks, IxChel, for brightening our days. In our hearts, you were our little dragon, and now you fly.

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