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Goodbye Larry

Yesterday Larry Lee Lenson, my son's hermit crab, passed on. My son went to the bathroom, where Larry's cage sits, to fill the sink with bottled water for his bath and noticed that he was 'dangly'.

He carried Larry to me saying, "Mommy his legs dangling funny."

Well his little hermit crab body had fallen apart and part of him was still in the cage and the rest of him was in his shell, part way out. I quickly took him from my son, and tried to hide the part of him in his cage with the water sponge. I didn't want to totally traumatize my little boy. It was obvious to us both he was dead.

What do you say except the truth in this type of instance? He asked me what was happening to his crab, and I wasn't going to lie. I gave him the truth...that Larry's heart stopped beating and he in fact was dead. Although my son takes everything in stride he is still such an extremely compassionate little guy. I knew he was internalizing it all instead of showing how he felt right off.

He asked if Larry got stuck in his shell and that's why he died...I responded the only way I knew how. "Maybe honey but Larry's in heaven now so he's not suffering." And of course I got it:

"No mom...Larry's not in heaven...He's right there in his cage!"

I explained that what makes someone inside...their spirit...their soul...well that never stops even though their heart does. And that part of them...their spirit goes to live in heaven.

My son started to cry but stopped himself before crying too much. He decided to putt golf balls down his green, set up in the living room, to make him feel better. I was told he didn't want to talk about it anymore and all he wanted to do was play golf so he'd feel happy. He brought it up a couple more times during golf, and he then decided we weren't to talk about Larry anymore.

Today I knew I'd get reports from my mom as my son let little bits and pieces out about how he felt. She called to tell me that he said it was the worst day he has ever had in his life, but that he was happy our dog was still with us. Our dog, Hershey, almost got put down last month. I'm so thankful now that I made the call to keep Hershey a little longer. I just didn't feel it was his time yet. My son kept telling my mom that Larry was in heaven, but Hershey was doing much better and still lived with us. That seemed to be his saving grace...thank goodness. It was something good for him to hold onto.

It broke my heart yesterday to see him cry like that. I tried to comfort him, but he had to work it out on his own. I learned something about my son yesterday. He wants to be alone when he's that sad. He's the kind that has to sort it independently, and then move on.

I learned that he's a lot like me in that way. I guess things like that are just genetically ingrained in you. It's so odd that he handles the big stuff just like me, when I've not taught him a life lesson in dealing with any of it. I used to come home from school and sit in my closet to deal with whatever was ailing my heart, and when I'd come out my mom always knew I'd be okay. My son seems to handle it the same way.

Ohh.. and my son called me from my mom's not too long ago to tell me that he and Nana went to PETCO today. They came back with a new hermit crab, AND he named it Larry.

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