“Scramble Pentagon Jones” 
Avid Runner, Beloved Rodent, Trusted Friend

Scramble and his (or her) brother (or sister) Scrabble came to live with us just two weeks ago and today he was laid to rest near our apartment in a medicated chest rub box.  It was a lovely ceremony and a sobering reminder of little things that mean a lot.
In fairness Scramble was purchased with a disclaimer.  Not from the pet shop – the only information they offered was the calm assurance that we were not, in fact, buying mice, or rats or squirrels or beavers (I went through every rodent in the Chinese-English Dictionary just to be sure).  The disclaimer was mine to my daughter and it was simple: “Honey, hamsters die.” Turns out I was right (which I traditionally enjoy) but I thought it would be poor timing to gloat.  The “hard facts about pet ownership” talk was strategically designed to soften the blow when the inevitable day arrived but it was of little consolation this morning when I broke the news.  Tears.
Here’s the kicker.  I first realized Scramble had passed last night, seconds after reiterating the “hard facts” talk.  Rachel had forgotten to feed and water her pets (which I can safely say was not the cause of death) and in an effort to drive the point home I said exactly this . . . “Honey, if you do not feed and water them they will die.”  I didn’t yell.  I didn’t even raise my voice but I was just forceful enough to feel like an absolute heel when she rushed like a paramedic to get water and I noticed that Scramble was, as I had practically predicted, dead.  I quickly reviewed my next move options and chose not to go for, “see, I told you so.”  Instead I chose, “it’s past your bed time, no time to play with the hamsters right now, go to sleep.”  What?
All of this comes on the heels of a far more painful encounter with death.  Our little community of expats was shocked to its core two weeks ago when our dear friends 11 year old son fell from a significant height and did not survive.  He was as sweet and tender as a 5th grader can possibly be.  Is there anything more refining than death? Everything you say and feel and believe is beaten to a pulp when someone so young and so good and so promising dies so quickly and so unexpectedly.  Every cliche is challenged, every philosophy is purged, every idea about life and death and God is pummeled with a baseball bat until all that is left is what was too strong to be destroyed.  I’m proud to be a part of a community that has been beaten senseless and shown that things like real faith and real hope and real love (especially love) never, ever, ever fail.
Rachel’s eulogy notes:  (Translation)  “Scramble P. Jones, I
loved you.  I will miss you.  I will be lonely with no friend.
Hope you’re buried good.  Love Scrabble. S.P.J.
I’m also proud to have a daughter that knows how to take care of her pets . . . even when they die.

There was some concern that scoundrels and looters
might bother the grave site.  Ra thought a note might help.
“Ded Hampster.  leave
aLONE.  Scramble Pintgon Jones.”


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