That was the text I got back, and picturing my little girl almost-adult-daughter typing it out nearly made me cry.
I've written here often about Elizabeth and her rats, so I trust you are well aware of these pets. We've had lots of laughs with those critters, but not every story is a happy one. Like today's episode.
Elizabeth "adopted" Nibbles about 10 months ago from a friend who just didn't want to take care of his rat anymore. And because her heart is so kind, Elizabeth loved Nibbles well.
I suppose it is also because her heart is so kind that Elizabeth began aching for Nibbles a few weeks ago when she seemed to be quite sick. Elizabeth was concerned about the noises she was making, and noticed changes in her physique and behavior. She was convinced Nibbles was dying. And suffering in the process.
Now, I may not be a rocket scientist, but one look at Nibbles led me to the same conclusion. And so we began our research on how to humanely put Nibbles out of her misery.
Every day which passed had Elizabeth a little more sad for her dear Nibbles. But finally the plans were in place and as Elizabeth was walking out the door to go to a bonfire at school she said, "You'll take care of Nibbles while I'm gone, right?" She didn't want to be here when it happened.
So that evening, Brian and I put Nibbles to rest and when it was finished I texted Elizabeth saying, "Nibbles is no longer suffering. Her body is in a white box on the counter. Didn't know if you wanted to see her..."
A few minutes later I got the "Thank you, Mommy" response. And I wanted to drive up to the school to hug my girl.
It's weird that "killing" my daughter's pet made me feel such a close connection to her, but somehow - it did.
A rat doesn't have an eternal soul. It's just a short-haired rodent, for crying out loud! But Nibbles was so much more than that to Elizabeth and I could see her sweet heart breaking. So I did for my girl what she couldn't do - the thing she knew needed to happen, but simply didn't have the strength to do.
And as I've thought about it more I have realized that won't be the last time I do for her something she cannot do. (And, actually, it isn't the first.) Because that's what we moms do. It might be praying for our children when they are facing trials; it might be caring for a sick baby; it might be comforting one who has just had a nightmare; it might be giving a pep talk to a nervous kid before their first oral book report; it might be calming the fears of a college freshman who's leaving home for the first time (while we try to hide our own tears); or it might be euthanizing a sick pet rat.
Whatever "it" is, each of us moms have been given a precious opportunity to care, to love, to nurture, and to encourage. May God give us the grace to recognize and embrace these moments.