Photo We Heart It
Bob, Brandon, J.P. and Mia sat around a pile of sticks they called “the campfire.” Under the shade of the biggest tree in the park, they told ghost stories.
“There’s a bloody arm in there,” said J.P.
“Ew. No there isn’t,” said Mia.
Bob pointed up to the branches above them. “I think there’s a ghost in the tree up there.” Jake started up the small hill to meet the campers. The other parents and I chatted in the ravine below. “Hey you guys!” called Jake. “It’s a dead squirrel!” There was a rush down the hill as kids encircled the squirrel corpse.
“Whoa,” said J.P. “His eye popped out.”
“His tongue’s sticking out too,” said Brandon.
Jake poked the squirrel lightly with a stick. “Maybe we should put leaves on him?”
Bob looked at me, his bottom lip starting the sad quiver. “Can we make him not dead, Mom?”
“No we can't fix him but he’s not using his body anymore,” I said.
“I think a stranger gave him bad food and he got sick and died,” said Mia.
“Maybe a storm trooper fought him in a battle?” Bob said.
“Guys? I think he fell out of the tree,” said J.P.
I dug a plastic Von’s bag out of my purse and wrapped up the squirrel. “I’m just going to move him out of the way.” Brandon, J.P. and Jake lost interest and went back to the circle of sticks. Bob and Mia followed behind me as I walked up the hill with the squirrel bag. I set it down gently in the garbage can. We picked small purple flowers from the vine on the fence and scattered them over the bag. “Let’s say a few words for the squirrel.”
“Okay, Bob’s mom,” Mia said.
“I bet this little squirrel had a very nice life. I know if I was a squirrel, I would want to live in this beautiful park,” I said. “Now he’s on his way to squirrel heaven to play and eat snacks for eternity.”
“Bob’s mom? What’s eternity?” said Mia.
“It means forever.” We started back down the hill.
“Hey, Mama? When is God going to take the squirrel out of the garbage can? How does he get him out of there?”
“God won't need to take the squirrel's body because the squirrel isn’t in it anymore. His little squirrel spirit is has already moved on.”
“Where’s your spirit?”
“It’s the part inside you that you feel with. The part that makes you, you.”
“Mom? Did that squirrel hurt when his eyes came out?” said Bob.
“I’m betting it all happened pretty fast and he didn’t have time to feel it.”
“Yeah mom, and your spirit doesn’t need eyes for eternity.”