Saturday, April 05, 2008 (2:15AM)
Bubba is gone. Off to snake heaven, to chase (as Mary puts it) all the “slow, stupid mice” he can eat. I went to refill his water dish Thursday night, feeling guilty that I hadn’t remembered to bring him anything to eat. He didn’t flinch when the water hit the dish, as he usually did. He didn’t move when I knocked on the side of his tank. He didn’t perk up or flick his tongue or anything when I talked into the cage at him. For about ten minutes, I stood there in denial, shaking his aquarium and watching for the breath he would not take. Finally, I lifted the screen and gave him a gentle poke, knowing he was dead. And dead he was indeed.
Scenes flashed through my brain as it caught up with reality. I saw the tiny baby snake I brought to my dorm room at Towson State the morning after my first real date with Lisa#2. I saw that baby snake, curled up and sleeping in my sleeve, holding me painfully motionless for two solid hours because I didn’t have the heart to disturb the little guy. I recalled explaining to this little reptile why it was a big deal that the Berlin Wall was coming down. I saw Wife#1 talking to him, commiserating about the difficulty I was encountering in trying to free myself from the hell that was retail. I replayed the story, one of the last coherent stories my father recited, of Bubba and the house painters who seemed so in awe of him. I heard [Maris], using her squeaky “Bubba” voice to translate for me – countless times – his wistful demands for mice (or for “more mouses”).
I looked again at his limp body, and I can tell you, I cried. I moved his favorite rock and placed it beneath his little chin, curled him into what seemed like a more comfortable position and draped a tissue over his body. It pained me to do it, but about 45 minutes later I woke [Maris] with the news. I was quite taken aback, as I still am, by her sadness at Bubba’s passing. He may have been “just” a snake, sitting silently in an aquarium 99% of the time, but he was a living presence in our home. He had been with me since long before she met me. He was cute and pretty and seemed to like when she played 80’s metal on the stereo. He was just always there. And now, somewhat suddenly, he was not.
Leaving Bubba’s lifeless little body in his tank while we moped our way through a drizzly, depressing Friday was probably not the best of ideas. By the time we got home from work, Bubba’s room was in need of a thorough airing out. We carefully coiled him into a sturdy box, lined with tissue paper and gravel from his cage, placed his favorite little rock inside and gave him a final pat on the head. On the top of his little cardboard casket I wrote:
Bubba “The Party Snake”
August 19, 1988 - April 4, 2008
August 19, 1988 - April 4, 2008
Bubba’s final resting place is in our back yard, in a spot that gets plenty of sun. He slumbers beneath several inches of earth and the rocks from atop his aquarium. His spirit will keep me company during grilling season. It’s hard to walk by the empty space he occupied since we moved into this house without feeling the sadness of loss all over again. He was a good snake and a wonderful pet. In our mail on Saturday was a sympathy card from SiL, BiL and Little Nephew. They noted that Little Nephew had declared that “Bubba got in his car and drove away.” Indeed. Bubba - out on the open road, cruising for meeces and girl snakes. Drive on, Bubba. You are missed.