Stephen's rat died last week. It was his first encounter with death, at least in his conscious memory, and the sag of his shoulders and sobs coming from deep in his chest were enough to break this momma's heart. As I held my boy, trying to will comfort into him, I knew I'd never loved him more than I had at that moment.
And then Stephen's little brother Joseph, empathetically weeping with his brother, offered to give Stephen his own much-loved rat, in hope of easing the pain. And I hugged my generous boy close and knew I'd never loved him more than I had at that moment.
And then, a few minutes later, I watched from the warmth of the kitchen as Hubs pounded away at the ice with a shovel, digging a little rat-sized grave. And I watched his strong arm around my Stephen's shoulders, leaning down to our son's level to hold a little ratty funeral in the frigid, pelting ice. I knew I'd never loved that man more than I had at that moment.
And yes, I know there is a very odd irony that these precious life moments were brought about by rats--rats, of all things!--but isn't that just the way of things sometime? The messes mixed in with the joy, the heartache stirred up with the oddities. Living life is a mixed bag, isn't it?