Wednesday, July 11, 2007

RIP, Doc Oc

While in Alaska, we got a call from our pet-sitter. Luke's guinea pig, the aptly-named Doc Oc (what could be more villainous than kicking litter and turds onto my floor?) had, sadly, died. We weren't sad for ourselves, really, since we always wound up caring for this messy, biting animal, but we knew that Luke would be very upset when he discovered that his only pet was dead.

We decided not to tell Luke about Doc Oc's demise until we got home from vacation. Luckily, when we arrived home at 7 a.m. from a night of flying, Luke was asleep. Sleep-deprivation was not something we needed to add to the mix when we were gingerly telling Luke about the death of his beloved villian.

The day before we flew home, I had casually said to Luke, "You know, when I was a little girl, my dog cocoa died. She was very old and just fell asleep and never woke up."

Knowing Luke and his intensity, as well as his great love of television and junk food, I ad-libbed a little extra, throwing in, "and my parents let me eat lots of candy and watch a lot of T.V. the day cocoa died since I was sad."

So when Luke woke up from his long nap that day we came home, he asked if our pet sitter was in the house.

"No, Luke, Charlie just came to our house to take care of Doc Oc but he slept at his house," I told him, realizing that now was the time to break the news to Luke.

With a nervous stomach, I told Luke that Charlie had called a few days before and told us that Doc Oc had died. Luke cried. He cried quite a bit. But he didn't scream. He didn't freak out. His reaction seemed appropriate.

And then, when he was done crying, he asked me, "Can I watch T.V. and eat candy now?" And I said yes.

I wasn't sure what we should do with the body, but I knew I wanted it out of my freezer. (Yes, we told Charlie to put the body in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. What else were we to do? And, too, this carries on a family tradition that involves a dog and a suitcase and a deep-freeze.) So I told Luke that we would decorate a special box and put Doc Oc in it. Then we would have a memorial service and leave the box out in the hall for the pet buriers to pick up. That's all this city-dwellin' mom could come up with on two hours of sleep.

Luke made a great box, and at the service Luke asked me to say a prayer and he would share some of his favorite memories of his pet.

"Dear God," I prayed, "Please be with Doc Oc up in heaven and tell him that we miss him. Please give him lots of space to run around in and lots of produce to eat. Please take good care of him until Luke comes to heaven, too, in a long, long time. Amen."

Luke seemed satisfied with the prayer, and began his part of the service, speaking in a strange, sing-song sort of monotone.

"I remember when Doc Oc bit me on the finger," Luke said. "I remember when he ate his food. I remember when he sat in his cage."

Craig and I, in our sleep-deprived states, were beginning to get a little hysterical at this point, so we cut Luke off and carried the box to the hall.

A half hour later or so, after Craig took a furtive trip to the dumpster, we told Luke that the pet buriers had come. And in his sugared-up T.V. daze, he raced out to the hall with a look of childish, joyful belief, happy that the mysterious pet buriers had done their job.

I hope you are somewhere with a lot of space for running and a lot of produce to eat, Doc Oc.


Jenny said...

Oh Ser,

What a treat this post is. Just the title alone, with the image was enough to start me chuckling--and then Luke's eulogy. What an impressive pet Doc Oc was. You must miss him dreadfully--he sat, he ate, he bit! No wonder Anna keeps begging for her own Doc Oc.


Ser said...

Thanks for your support during this time of grief, Jenny.

Anonymous said...

Ser, I have to add a comment. I think this is the blog that has made me feel like laughing and crying the most. It is soooooo funny and brings back lots of memories involving beloved and not so beloved pets. How creative of you to think of the city "pet buriers." I love your blogs. I miss all of you. Mom

Nancy said...

I know this is totally crass of me even to think, but you must be so relieved not to have to move the critter. I'm glad the candy and TV worked!

Did you ever read the Tenth Good Thing about Barney? (Judish Viorst, I think) Doesn't sound like you need it, but it *is* a good book about pet death.

Ser said...

Oh, Nancy, you aren't crass at all. I lost my first post I started writing about this, but in that I included how when we got a message that Charlie had called, we were saying, "Oh, we hope Doc Oc died!" (Luke was in bed when we said this.)

We did feel bad for Luke, but the feelings of relief at not having to move the creature (and not having to endure his bad habits) outweigh it all.

Bethany Torode said...

Hey Ser - this is HILARIOUS. You really need to write for publication. You've got a great knack for humor. Really - you've got an instinctive knack for comic set-up and pacing and everything...

Mara said...

Ser, I know I already emailed you about how much I loked this one. I even developed hiccups while reading this. I love the part of the service that Luke contributed in his "sing song" tone. He can be so hysterically funny... and I love your writing. It really cracks me up. I read it when I need a little laugh, and little family reminder.
Miss you guys!
Aunty Mara

Mara said...

I meant "liked" this one, not "loked."

alaskapeter said...

Ser! It was awesome seeing you guys 3 weeks ago! I just finally got caught up with your blog; I forgot how good and funny it is. I'm here in the library reading it, and was starting to cry a bit I was laughing so hard at the part where Luke is "chanting" his memories of Doc Oc. Funny! I may be passing through Columbus again in a week or so...