In Memory of Flan

Chimes Opinion Article - September 23, 2009
Zachary Newcott

Flan was the first pet I ever had to die on my watch; at the very least the first one to die outside of a fishbowl. As a matter of fact, Flan died holding her most precious treasure, a large chunk of food which I could barely manage to pry from her cold dead claws.

Flan was a feeder mouse, which automatically placed her housing and board a cut above the rest of her old buddies from the two dollar bin at Pet City. I could classify her as being exceptionally "well cared for" as long as I didn't feed her to a large snake or pony. Just about every day for her was a new chance at life. She was mine, and I sought to care for her to the best of my ability.

Some time earlier when my mother was first diagnosed with a severe case of cancer, my sister-in-law suggested we visit a grief counselor. Knowing how backwards many aspects of my life take place, it only seemed fitting that we meet with someone to help us deal with death before it actually occurred. Seeing it as a great opportunity to get a free box of tissues to help deal with the gravity of the situation, and my allergies, I dragged myself to it as well.

In the counselors office, a rather large green plant dominated the corner gave me a slight jab each time I began to doze off and unconsciously lean towards it. It was at one of these moments that I thought I'd stop to "smell the roses" so to speak and take a whiff of the provided foliage. Smelling the fresh scent of Febreeze, I realized the plant was about as real as the photos I had seen in bargain picture frames at Wal-Mart. It made sense. After all, who wanted to be reminded of the fleeting nature of life in a grief counselors office by a withering brown sac of weeds?

I buried Flan in the weeds behind my house, quite literally, as I couldn't manage to pry up any dirt with the spoon I stole from my roommates kitchen supplies. I covered her as much as I could and decided it would be only right to give her a few words of remembrance.

"Flan," I said to myself and my roommate's cat, who I had to tenderly kick away after he began pawing at the barely covered box of Thermaflu, "You were a great mouse. Although I had no idea that your cute arched back was probably due to how incredibly inbred you were, I was smitten by your curiosity and tendency to run in mindless circles on my hand. You died doing what you loved most, eating. I respect that. I think we all do when it comes down to it."

That green plant in the grief counselors office is probably still there today. It probably will be for the next decade. It will stay green when it is thrown in to the back alley and replaced by whatever artificial foliage mankind comes up with next. Then, much later, when mankind is overpowered and destroyed by their mechanized cognizant artificial foliage, it will probably still be around. Eventually that evergreen plant will outlive us all until it's the last green bit of foliage on earth, and then it will be more alive than all of us. It will never experience grief, or loss. It will never fully experience anything at all. It will just stay green until it needs a loving hand to dust it off and appreciate it for being there to stand in the corner and jab kids awake when they don't know what losing someone really means.

Read it online at The Chimes.

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