Death, Karma & Two Hamsters
Teddy was a teddy bear hamster my brother got from Santa at Christmas one year when we were young. Freddy was a vanilla colored hamster I received from Santa, oddly enough, a week later. I guess he heard my outraged and heartbroken cries on Christmas morning.
Teddy and Freddy were both males who lived happily together for about 3 months until unexplainably they multiplied. We discovered this when teeny tiny balls of fuzz were scampering across our living room floor.
We learned quickly that you cannot determine the sex of a hamster by gently turning them over in your hand, having an assistant part their little legs and looking at their furry underbelly. This leads only to a marginally alarmed hamster. I think it also creates an unrealistic expectation on your hamster’s part that they will get this kind of attention all the time.
One bright morning my brother gently removed Teddy from his cage. He was holding Teddy by one foot. Teddy’s body was extended straight out from his foot. He closely resembled a wide nail file dressed in a fur coat.
My brother’s strangled and tearful question, “Mom, is Teddy dead?” was unfortunately met with the muffled giggles of me and my cousin, Ryan. I assure you, I was not laughing because Teddy had passed on; it was simply the tone and delivery of my brother’s clearly confused and innocent question. The answer seemed so obvious.
My brother has yet to forgive me for my callousness. This from the guy who tied me up and locked me in the closet every time my parents went out and released me the moment they pulled into the driveway. I never ratted him out, by the way.
Anyway, Freddy bravely carried on despite her loss. She was a happy little hamster. I remember her spending hours running around in her plastic hamster mover, exploring the tubes and tunnels of her glitzy home, peacefully sleeping in the pocket of my royal blue, terry cloth robe and artfully escaping to scare us senseless by scratching in the bottom of a metal waste basket. They were good times, my friends. Good times, indeed.
One morning I awakened to find Freddy mysteriously absent. I checked her hamster mover and my robe pocket to no avail. She was gone. My mom came to me with a loving and sympathetic expression. I knew that meant bad news. She told me the tragic tale Freddy’s final escape. Unfortunately our outdoor cat, Snowball, had remained indoors that night for protection against the brutal Arizona cold. Apparently, my mom explained, Freddy had motored under the door to the laundry room where Snowball was "relaxing" and they had a rousing game of hide and seek. According to my mom, the excitement of the game with a new friend was just too much for Freddy’s little heart to handle and she had passed on to her great reward.
As my mom was breaking the news, my brother was standing directly behind her. Rather than the sympathetic and understanding expression I expected, I was met with an obvious look of indifference, sprinkled with a hint of pure malice. The puzzle would become clear 20 years later when I found out the naked and horrible truth. My brother knew all along that, in fact, my beloved Snowball had murdered Freddy in cold blood. Hello Karma, nice to meet you. I will never laugh inappropriately ever again. Well, unless I’m at church, in a meeting or involved in anything that requires me to be serious. I’ll tell you more about that later.