Buttercup died late last night.
Buttercup was our Siberian hamster. We suspected Buttercup was nearing the end of her life about a week or two ago. Her fur was graying. She was moving much more slowly. She just seemed tired.
Yesterday morning, while I was at the coffee shop reading, Michael IM’ed me saying that Buttercup was dying. I rushed home knowing this would be a painful time for my kids.
When I got home, Cathy was holding Buttercup in her lap. Everyone was around her crying, telling Buttercup how much they loved her. Buttercup could barely lift her head, so the kids hand-fed her snacks and water whenever she would eat.
Buttercup was a great hamster! She had a wonderful temperament. She was just cute all the time. You couldn’t help but laugh and smile as you watched her explore her environment.
So we sat on the couch taking turns holding Buttercup and sharing stories about how she rolled around in her little plastic ball, how she escaped from her cage a few times and explored our home, how she stuffed food in her cheeks, how she came to you when you called her.
We didn’t want Buttercup to die alone. So Cathy fashioned a little nest for her in a denim purse and we took her on our day’s activities. The kids took turns gently carrying the purse, checking on her comfort and giving her food and water.
Moments like yesterday cause me to swell with pride as a dad. My four kids have learned how to love deeply. Buttercup was not just a hamster. She has been a part of our family the last 18 months. They cared for her. They saved what little money they could to buy her special treats. They held her, played with her, laughed at her antics. My kids reflected God’s image onto that little portion of God’s creation.
It still amazes me that in this large world, a tiny hamster could so deeply capture the heart of my children, and in her passing, leave such a gargantuan hurt. My children remind me of a God who mourns the passing of little sparrows.
Last night, before bed, Buttercup was barely breathing. She wouldn’t wake up. We knew this would be her last night with us. So each of us held her, stroked her soft fur, and told her how much we loved her and would miss her. And we cried and prayed and hugged and cried some more. My kids fell asleep crying.
Perhaps the hardest thing as a dad is to watch your children in pain. It tore me up watching my children grieve. Their pain created such an ache in my heart.
As I was getting ready for work early this morning, I cried again, knowing that my children would wake up, rush to Buttercup’s cage, and discover what we all dreaded. And I knew they would cry and grieve again as they prepared for school. And there is nothing I can do to remove the pain. All I can do is be there with them through it all.
So I made this video to help my children remember Buttercup and to help them grieve her passing. But more importantly, I made this video to honor my children and their deep love. And in a way, I made this video to honor a God who creates hamsters and children who love them.
Father, your creation, even in its broken state, displays your goodness and glory. Whether it’s a spectacular sunrise, majestic mountains or the gentleness of a hamster, we see you and know you. May we always be able to respond with deep love.