Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Requiem for a Squirrel

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.”


  1. I wonder if the squirrel I saw smushed on the road this morning felt that car running over his back.

    Will you ask Bob for me?

  2. Melancholic and beautiful :) And I like how Mia called you "Bob's mom".

  3. Yeah, the part where Mia calls you "Bob's mom" - priceless.

    Awesome post.

  4. Taking cues from the spirit of Jerry Orbach, are we? "It all happened so fast . . ."

    I miss Jerry. And the squirrel.

  5. The phenomenon of squirrels falling out of trees puzzles me. I dont understand how it can happen, thats their home... how sad. It's like a drunk falling off a bar stool. Well.. thats not a very good analogy I guess.


  6. You really are prepared for every situation, Bob's Mom.


  7. There are several things I love about this. Your explanations about spirit in a way that four-year-olds could understand. Mia calling you "Bob's mom." The fact that you of all the parents came to get the squirrel and, most importantly, that you had a Von's bag in your purse. You really do have everything in there, don't you?

  8. Very cute. You are very good with explaining such awkward situations. I am taking notes for when I have children. :)

  9. Good job, Bob's Mom! (I think we should all call you that from now on =o)
    The flowers were a nice touch, especially sprinkling them over the Von's bag in the trash can. You are an ace modern mom! x0 N2

  10. So sweet. Wise insight seems to run in the family.

  11. nice. and we have TONS of adventures with the squirrels around our house, especially the fox squirrel we call "foxy."

  12. I wonder what we do need for eternity?

  13. Baby E and I read this story together, and Baby E wants Bob to know that God makes sure animals can't think when they get hurt, so that it's over very, very fast and they don't feel a thing.

  14. Very good story, it's hard to know how to explain to kids how death works. I'm sure it's easier with a squirrel than when it's someone they love that dies.


  15. I wish I'd had some of Bob's Mom's words the other day, when Rascal found a dead squirrel. But there were maggots involved and, well, that should say it all right there.

  16. I remember my first experience with death. Bob is a very lucky young man to have you with him.

  17. Bob is one smart kid. Seriously....I love Bob! And I love you for writing about him!