With death comes new life. It is interesting how it happens. All in the matter of a week the Rookie experienced both life and two deaths in his life.

While the Rookie was out on a trip to see his cousins, sometime during that trip, one of his hermit crabs died. It was something that both Mrs. Rookie Dad and I struggled with figuring out a way to explain to him what happened.

Do we just flat out tell him what happened? He is 4-years-old so he will know if one of his pets is different.

We could just go out and buy a new hermit crab and explain that the one who “died” changed their shells. Is it worth lying to him about it?  That would completely disregard one of the reasons that we walked into the pet store that day.

To help teach him responsibility.

The decision was made that we would explain to him and show him what happened to his hermit crab. Surprisingly, he took it very well. We explained to him that we knew something was wrong with this particular crab because we never did see much activity from him. We never saw him eating or drinking. We told him that it wasn’t anything that he did and that these things happen. The crab is in a better place.

hermit crab - The Rookie Dad
In memory of Chris the Hermit Crab

After a few tears, we told the Rookie that we would get him two new crabs to replace one that died. We explained that one would be to replace the dead crab and the other would be because he was so close on his sticker chart to get a new crab that we would go ahead and get him one.

The next day we made our way down to the pet store. Without going into deep detail about this particular pet store, I am just going to say that we LOVE this store. It is locally owned and has more animals and the staff is more knowledgeable than any chain pet store that we have been to.

After picking out two knew crabs, we started to walk around the store. Looking at all the lizards and frogs and turtles and birds that they had. In the middle there was a cat that was available for adoption. The Rookie really wanted to pet the cat and we told him no. Partially, because he has been saying for the longest time that he wants a cat and we would know that it would lead down the path of a tantrum when we tell him that we could not take it home with us.

As we leave the store, the Rookie has excitement on his face holding his box of hermit crabs. Making sure not to drop them before we get home. We place the hermit crabs in their new home and watch them for a while.  But one of the few things he could talk about during his pet store experience was the cat. The cat in the middle of the store waiting for adoption. The cat that we wouldn’t allow him to pet.

The next day, the Rookie was so excited about his hermit crabs that we get them out and play with them. As we are watching the three hermit my phone goes off. It was a news notification saying that there was a fire at a local pet store.

Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about this but I read the story because we were at a pet store the day before. While reading the story I found out the pet store that was destroyed in the fire was the pet store we had just been to 24 hours before.

Most of the pets were lost in the fire, the ones that survived were the turtles and reptiles. As I kept reading the story, it mentioned the cat. The cat that the Rookie wanted to pet so badly in the store. The cat that the Rookie was so excited to see and wanted to pet so badly. The cat that we wouldn’t let him to pet.

The cat was one of the many victims of this fire.

As I read the story the Rookie started to get some tears in his eyes. He loved this pet store just as much as Mrs. Rookie Dad and I loved the store. He asked about the hermit crabs to which I didn’t know the answer.

He asked about the cat. With a heavy heart, I told him that the cat is up in heaven with his family. As more tears started to roll down his face, I explained that everything happens for a reason and that the cat is in a much better place. I told him that we need to be thankful that we saved the two hermit crabs from the fire.

There are times when I have felt an incredible amount of grief for not letting the Rookie do something to avoid a tantrum later when I tell him we need to go do something else. Never have I felt the grief of telling him that the cat we wouldn’t let him pet died in a fire.

Why didn’t I let my son just pet the cat?

Pet the Cat - The Rookie Dad
Best buddies! The Rookie and his dog.

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