Followers of maxgrace.com will remember a recent Hammy incident. Hammy, my seven year old daughter’s hamster, escaped his cage. After a harrowing chase scene worthy of a John Wu film, he was captured and returned.
Most importantly, my daughter’s feelings were spared. I don’t know if there was enough evidence for a court of law, but we suspect her as the cage-opening culprit.
It happened again last night. There we were, enjoying the company of Dave and Dale, when a cry of alarm shattered our focus on Rummikub. “Hammy’s gone! Hammy’s gone! It’s all my fault, but Hammy’s gone!”
In the great scheme of things, a missing hamster wouldn’t register on the Richter scale of human suffering. But a broken heart is a broken heart, whether it’s over a hamster or a terminal disease… a seven year old can hardly tell the difference. And my little girl’s heart was broken.
Of course, we emptied the closet and checked in all the shoes and moved around the stuff in a futile search for Hammy. My daughter was in tears. She sobbed, “A member of our family is dead!” She worried it had gotten outside and a coyote ate it. She berated herself for leaving the cage open. She snuggled in my lap, and cried her little eyes out. We prayed. Surely the God who sees a sparrow fall can shepherd a hamster safely home.
When we put her to bed, she asked for her Blankie… for the first time in almost a year.
In literature, when a story has a U-shaped plot, we call it Comedy.
Hamsters are nocturnal. Not ten minutes after she went to bed, I checked the mud room, and guess who was nibbling on sunflower seeds?
I valiantly grabbed Hammy, shoved him into his cage, carried the cage up to our little girl’s night stand, and woke her up. “Look who’s back!” Call me Conquering Hero. Call me Dad. Sleep well, little princess. Sleep well.
When my girl came down the next morning, she asked to hold Hammy and spend time loving him. “Of course,” I said, feeling like Napolean. “Go enjoy your little buddy.” Big mistake. Maybe Napolean wasn’t the best comparison.
At about 7:20 a.m., Hammy escaped my daughter’s grip, and vanished.
In literature, we call this TRAGEDY. Especially since it seems inexorable, and a fatal flaw in our pet-keeping abilities. Did I mention that one of our Beta fish died last week?
More tears. More searching. More prayers. “It’s all my fault! He wiggled out of my hand! He ran… waaa… waaaaa… over there…. waaaa… and it’s all my fault… and… waaaaa… sniff….how could he VANNNISHHHHHH?”
Not as much parental mercy this time around.
Twelve hours later…
The reality hits us: we are going to bed soon without Hammy. More prayers. More searching… Last night’s very late bed time for the kids necessitates today’s early bed time. Another night with Blankie. Hammy’s cage is on the floor. Hammy’s food bowl is outside the open cage. Multiple checks throughout the evening. No Hammy. Poor Hammy. Where’s Hammy? Come back Hammy. We love you, we miss you, don’t get eaten… Will he starve? Will he drown? Where will he get water? Did Popcorn eat him? Popcorn ate him! No way, his mouth isn’t big enough. We assure our kids that our little puppy didn’t eat our little Hammy.
For our hearbroken daughter, there was no happy ending tonight. Bedtime, and her pet is still AWOL. Mom and dad comforted and prayed and put the kids to bed.
What lessons can we learn from this? What is God saying to our family? When I think of the real problems people face, a lost Hamster seems so silly. But my daughter’s heart… her tears are real. Her heartache is not silly. What does God think?
Margi and I have a few moments to unwind… watch TV. I doze, as usual. Good night, little Hammy, wherever you are.
Proverbs 12:10. A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast.
Before sleep conquers me, I climb out of bed to check one last time. I approach the closed mudroom door. The time is 11:15–sixteen hours after Hammy wiggled free. My hopes aren’t high. But… wait… what’s that noise? I smile. I hear the noise that made us put the cage in the mudroom to begin with… I know that noise: the squeaky whir of a spinning hamster wheel.