Monday, June 22, 2009

Rest In Peace, Zack

I had wanted to give an update tonight on our Father's Day/ Ben's b-day weekend, but that will have to wait until later because tonight there is something very heavy on my heart. You will all be saddened to know that our beloved pet, Zack, has passed on.

Zack came into our lives about three weeks ago when my son, Caleb, found him crawling on a leaf. Zack was a common tent caterpillar. Caleb and Zack formed an immediate bond. They spent the first few days together frolicking in the backyard. Well, Caleb frolicked and Zack chilled out in the mason jar we provided him.

We fed Zack leaves, since he seemed to enjoy them. I consulted my caterpillar reference book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by ecologist Eric Carle. I fed Zack sausage, strawberries, and watermelon. These were suggested by Mr. Carle to grow your caterpillar nice and fat. Sure enough, Zack soon formed a cocoon!

You might think that watching a caterpillar cocoon himself is a beautiful and moving experience. It is not. It is kind of icky. Nevertheless, we were very excited to witness Zack's transformation into a beautiful... moth. We consulted our reference book and discovered caterpillars can stay in their cocoons for up to two weeks before they come out.

Three weeks went by. This past Saturday, I told my sister Joyce about Zack taking his time becoming a moth. She looked at him, looked at me, and shook her head. It was then I knew. I think I had known for a while, but I didn't want to admit it. Zack was never going to hatch. He had died... in cocoon.

Was it my fault? Did I not feed him enough? Was his small home too confining? Did we smother him with our love and affection? Should I not have fed him cake?

I will never know the answer to these questions.

You are probably wondering what I am going to tell Caleb. This is a wonderful opportunity to have a deep discussion about life and death and the difference between souless caterpillars and soulful humans. It is a great opportunity to explain that sometimes bad things happen to good caterpillars, and that Zack would have wanted us to move on. What an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with my first-born son.

I thought about it, however, and I've decided against it. I've decided that Zack emerged from the cocoon and flew away before I could say chrysalis. He is now living somewhere in the backyard. Everytime we see a moth, we will wonder, is it Zack? Only I will know the truth.

Yes, I sleep fine at night. Why do you ask?

Zack and Caleb during happier times.

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