A Lizard Named Jesus

Before leaving for our road trip to Arizona, I found that a small baby lizard got stuck in a coffee pot I had out to use as a planter.  I completely forgot to let it free and it weighed on me through parts of the trip when the sun beat down on me. 

Upon arriving home I cringed to see a small stiff body, but to my surprise it was alive. 

Sadistically I kept it as a pet because I kind of fell in love with the little booger and fed it crickets and kept filling it’s water bowl. Elijah fell in love with it too, in just 2 days. 

Today he was looking inside and said we should let it free before it dies. I said, “wait! Just wait! Let me look up more info on it to learn the best way to care for it.”

“Mom! It’s going to die! Let’s let it go.”

“Hold on. I’m looking into it.”

Elijah shouts,”mom! I could tell it’s about to die, I can see it in his eyes.”

Seconds pass and he comes running towards me with the liZard in his hands and his eyes watery.

“See mom I told you! I saw it coming. We need to give him a funeral. He’s dead! He was such a pretty lizard.”

The kids scramble to give it a proper ceremony. Jazz makes it a tomb stone mumbling how much Elijah loves lizards and we must make a good ceremony and Clarence imitating them. After burying it Elijah comes to me and says,”mom we have to give him a funeral song. Will you play the piano and give him a funeral song?” 

“Of course! I’m sorry love.”

“We have to get everyone here. They all have to listen.”

After the song is over, he grabs a bottle of essential oil and says we should spray the grave like the women did for Jesus. 

I ask, “where’d you bury him anyway?”

“In there!” He points to the zen sand garden that Clarence often plays in while I garden. 

“Love, we have to bury him somewhere else or Clarence will unbury it.”

“But…… Ok, but let me be the one to get him.” He removes the fake flowers and jewels that adorned the grave already and as soon as he lifted the little toy door he placed above the body, the little body moved and scurried out of the sand.

“It’s Alive!” Everyone yells “it’s alive.”

“See my prayers came true! I prayed it would come back one day.” And he beamed looking down at me with a halo surrounding his head from the light of the sun. 

Precious Life

Since having the honor of being ordained a priestess, I have been called to perform two funeral ceremonies, both to our pets, both fish. Which might seem silly to some, but we sometimes learn from the smallest of creatures.
On Monday morning, I discovered Poro, aka Grape, dead in his tank. I waited to tell Elijah after he got home from school while on the toilet doing his “number two” because this is where we seem to have some of our deepest discussions. However looking back I feel foolish to have believed he would take this news better than he did the first time with his pet Sharkie.
“Elijah, I’m going to tell you something that might make you a little sad.” He looks up at me innocently with his doe eyes. “Poro died. ” I say maybe a little too freely. His face morphs into grief and his mouth is withdrawn and opens , yet no sounds escape him. Then the tears begin to well up and he lets out that first cry that seemed to have been stuck in his throat.
“But I love Poro” he cries. We get out of the bathroom and he runs to the tank. “Aw. My Poro! Is it because you forgot to feed him? Maybe his tank is not clean. Why did he die mom. He was a good fish.”
And I start to feel the emotion welling up in my throat, “Honey, I think it was just his time. We’ve had him for almost two years.”
“Can we get a pet that won’t die?”
“Aw honey, everything eventually dies. That’s how life works.”
Panic strikes him with a new understanding, “Will you die? Mom, will you die? When you get old? Are you going to die first? You’re older than me. Will you die first?” He is bawling and frantic.
“Love, we will all die, but we don’t want to focus on that. Death is as important as living. It keeps us moving and growing and then we make room for more to come and grow and love.” I feel humbled by my little guru who is moving me with his compassion for all life, even one in a body as little as a pink and indigo betta.
“Do you want to have a ceremony for him when Jose gets home?”
“No! I want to keep him here. He’s my Poro!” As the tears stream down his face.
“Remember how you told me the other day that people like Bruce Lee will live forever because someone will always remember him? Well, we will always remember Poro.”
“But I might forget him Momma. Can we keep him in his tank. What if I forget him.” He says in between sniffles.
“Maybe you can draw a picture of him. That way you won’t forget him.”
“But I don’t have paper! I need crayons!” He cries, but I gather everything and he begins to draw.
“He has five points on his fin.” And the paper gets wet with his tears.
When he finishes he goes back to the tank and stares at the lifeless pink body. And he tries to muffle his cry now.
“Do you want to say a prayer for him, so he can be free?”
“No, can you do it?”
“Ok. Dear, God, Jah, oh Universe. Thank you for giving us such beautiful times with Poro.” Elijah covers his face and cries harder, then he looks back at me with his mouth open and sad. “We love Poro and will remember him. Please enjoy him. He is coming back to you.”
“He is a good fish. He is my good fish.” He touches the tank and sobs a little louder. Looks back at me again and by this time, I’m crying.
I learn each day and I am reminded that all life is precious.
We have the ceremony the next day and send him off with the smoke of palo santo and celebrate his life with sparklers. It was a beautiful ceremony, and it was meaningful.