All were lackadaisical at best with most of our dearly departed deposited in the pine straw of the backyard, flushed down the toilet or simply tossed into a trashcan somewhere in the bowels of PetSmart.
Sadly, pets die all the time. We mourn them and move on, especially considering these pets — one Beta fish, 12 tiny frogs and one cannibalistic toad — had the combined lifespan in our home of less than a year (of which the Beta, named Sully accounted for roughly 99.995 percent of that total).
The Diva is obsessed with frogs — stuffed frogs, pictures of frogs, paintings of frogs, tattoos of frogs, statues of frogs, of simply saying the word “frogs” as some sort of mantra from which to draw strength and courage.
Yet My Lovely Wife and I have long since drawn the line at her actually owning any form of living, croaking frog for fear of her losing interest and leaving us to raise it as though it were a baby found on a doorstep — warts and all.
But a couple of weekends ago, The Diva was driving a golf cart through the woods at her grandfather’s house when she spotted a bunch of itty-bitty frogs under a tree. Without a thought, she grabbed a Solo cup and scooped up, like, 15 of the critters and brought them home.
They died — one by one, day after day until no more little froggies were left a hoppin’. The Diva was devastated. But it wasn’t her fault that the cadre of Kermits all went to the “Great Big Swamp in the Sky.” She did everything humanly possible to make sure they were happy and healthy.
But every morning, she had to make another long walk to the backyard to say goodbye.
When they had each bitten the proverbial dust, The Diva and her boyfriend decided to upgrade to a PacMan Toad she fell in love with at PetSmart. They named it Herman.
Herman was one bad mutha! It actually ate other frogs. I saw it. Herman gobbled up a yard frog like its videogame namesake gobbled up colored ghosts. For long grotesque — yet oddly fascinating — moments, our entire family watched it digest another of its kind with just a tiny head hanging from its powerful jaws.
The Diva was a proud Mama and I, in return, was a proud Papa. I’m a sucker for animals of all kinds (even cats, though they’ll steal your breath while you sleep), but The Diva’s never been so … well … nurturing. Her last pet, a hamster named Sherlock, was dead in her room for a week before she noticed anything was wrong.
Granted, she was like 10 years old, but still.
And yet, she took great pains to follow the directions and take great care of Herman. She even took the lamp out of my office to be sure he got the required amount of morning and evening heat.
Herman died, too, surviving roughly 48 hours. Though she had the receipt and a 14-day guarantee, The Diva didn’t have the heart for a replacement frog (they were also out of stock).
And while Herman, Sulley (who, noble a fish as he was, got The Big Flush), as well as the nameless woodland frogs are no longer with us, the memory of The Diva’s motherly instincts shall never die.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org